As Deep Purple prepares to launch a major European tour in late May, the band has announced that longtime guitarist Steve Morse "will be taking a temporary hiatus" from the band because of a serious family matter.
The group assures fans that Morse remains a full member of Deep Purple, although he won't be playing the concerts scheduled for May, June and July. Replacing Steve at those shows will be Simon McBride, a veteran rock guitarist who previously has toured with Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan and keyboardist Don Airey, among many others.
In a message, Morse explains, "[M]y dear wife Janine is currently battling cancer. At this point, there are so many possible complications and unknowns, that whatever time we have left in our lives, I simply must be there with her."
He continues, "I am not leaving the band -- I hope that after she gets a clean bill of health, I can re-join the tour. However, I am not seeing any likely situation which would allow me to do overseas touring in the immediate future. I continue to be privileged to be a part of the Purple family tree, and also to get to feel the amazing support of so many loyal fans and the rest of the band."
Steve also praises McBride as "a certified world class guitarist," and concludes, "I appreciate all your sincere prayers for Janine and thank you all."
The rest of Deep Purple adds, jointly, "All of our thoughts are with Janine during her fight against cancer and also with Steve while he supports his wife at a very difficult time."
The U.S.-born Morse has been a member of Deep Purple since 1994. He also is a co-founder of jazz-rockers the Dixie Dregs and previously played with Kansas.
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