Personalities | Steve Morse | Dixie Dregs to Deep Purple | Guitar Heroes
A consummate guitarist in an extraordinary variety of styles, including jazz, classical, country, rock and heavy metal, Steve Morse also has the compositional skills and the improvising genius to match. He has played with, among others, Dixie Dregs, Kansas and Deep Purple, while also maintaining his own band.
Morse was born in 1954 into a musical family and learned piano, clarinet and violin before picking up the guitar. He met bassist Andy West at high school and formed Dixie Grit, a heavy-metal covers band, in the late 1960s. Morse and West went on to the University of Miami, where they took part in a musical lab project called Rock Ensemble II, which became the Dixie Dregs, playing a mixture of jazz rock and Southern rock.
Free Fall (1977), What If (1978) and Dregs Of The Earth (1980) were critically praised, but even Grammy nominations couldn’t generate commercial sales, and the group disbanded in 1983. Morse formed his own trio out of the Dixie Dregs and released The Introduction (1984) and Stand Up (1985) before he joined the reformed Kansas for Power (1986) and In The Spirit Of Things (1988). Resuming his solo career, Morse expanded his own parameters on High Tension Wires (1989), Southern Steel (1991) and Coast To Coast (1992), while participating in the Dixie Dregs revival on Bring ’Em Back Alive (1992) and Full Circle (1994).
In 1994, Morse joined Deep Purple, replacing Ritchie Blackmore for Purpendicular (1996). He has remained their guitarist ever since, consolidating his role on Abandon (1998), Total Abandon (1999), Bananas (2003) and Raptures Of The Deep (2005). Live releases include They All Came Down To Montreux (2007). Morse has also maintained his solo career with Major Impacts (2000), featuring his own compositions that pay tribute to his own guitar heroes, Split Decision (2002) and Major Impacts II (2004). In addition to Deep Purple and his solo work, Morse has performed and recorded with other outfits, including Living Loud, formed in 2003; Angelfire, with vocalist Sarah Spencer; and US supergroup Flying Colors, formed in 2012.
During his time with the Dixie Dregs, Morse played a customized Fender Stratocaster with a Telecaster neck that he assembled himself. He now has a signature model made by Ernie Ball Music Man.
Dixie Dregs: Dregs Of The Earth
Deep Purple: Purpendicular
Solo: Major Impacts
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