Simon McBride, who previously accompanied both singer Ian Gillan and keyboardist Don Airey onstage, will fill in for Deep Purple’s concerts in May, June and July.
“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,” Morse said in a statement on social media. “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.”
Morse insisted that he is “not leaving the band” and hopes that he can rejoin the tour after she receives a “clean bill of health.”
“However, I am not seeing any likely situation which would allow me to do overseas touring in the immediate future,” he 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. 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.”
The band wrote in a statement that “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.”
While McBride said he’s “deeply honored” to play with “such an iconic band,” he added that his “thoughts are with Steve and Janine and their family.”
The band noted there will be no further comment, adding, “We kindly ask to respect the family’s privacy and keep them in your prayers at this time.”
According to Setlist.fm, Deep Purple have played only a few shows since the COVID-19 pandemic, their last being an appearance on Feb. 14 onboard the 2022 Rock Legends Cruise. The tour itinerary on their website lists international gigs throughout the year, the next booked for May 22 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Deep Purple Albums Ranked
Their storied career spans over half a century, with more than 20 studio albums – in addition to many live and best-of sets.