Guitarist Steve Morse this week announced his hiatus from the classic hard rock group with whom he's performed since 1994, Deep Purple, because of wife's cancer diagnosis. The band had just returned with their first live shows of 2022 last month.

It's unclear what type of cancer Janine, whom Morse married in 2004, is battling. But the guitarist explained in a statement on Thursday (March 31) that he would have to stop touring with Deep Purple for the foreseeable future to be with her. Deep Purple appended words of support to his message. For now, Morse's place in the group will go to guitarist Simon McBride (Sweet Savage, The Don Airey Band, Snakecharmer).

Read the statement near the bottom of this post.

Morse said, "Hello, everybody. I've just done a few gigs with the band, after years (!?) of not playing live. It's a bittersweet, wonderful time to get together. However, my 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 continued, "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. … There's a certified world class guitarist ready to take over for the live shows whom everybody will surely be happy to hear. I appreciate all your sincere prayers for Janine and thank you all."

Morse, the Ohio-born solo artist and the founder of the jazz rockers Dixie Dregs, joined the English heavy metal pioneers in Deep Purple as a lead guitarist in 1994. He replaced original Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore, though Joe Satriani filled in for a few shows in between them. Morse is also a member of the supergroup Flying Colors.

On Thursday, Deep Purple jointly said, "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. We hope that Steve will be able to join us back on the road later this year."

Morse added, "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."

Loudwire wishes Morse and his family all the best in this trying time.

Steve Morse + Deep Purple Statements - March 31, 2022

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