Steve Morse was one of those players who I heard in the late '70s on his band's Dixie Dregs albums that I immediately recognized as a huge talent, especially as it related to their unique sound - an instrumental blend of Southern rock, classical, folk and country elements. As instrumental music, it tended to be lumped in with fusion bands, yet very few jazz/rock bands at that time sounded anything like the Dregs. I later read an interview in Guitar Player magazine where Morse talked about making a conscious decision to 'pick every note', which he had obviously mastered, and thus he joined fellow musicians such as Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin as some of the most talented pickers of the day.
Born in Ohio, guitarist Steve Morse spent his formative years in Tennessee, Michigan and Georgia. As a 17-year-old, Morse was eligible for early college enrollment, and attended the University of Miami School of Music. Classmates at the university included future influencers such as Jaco Pastorius, Andy West and Pat Metheny. After graduating in 1975, Morse and West formed the Dixie Dregs, where a heavy performance schedule eventually led to the attention of Capricorn Records and the release of their debut album "Free Fall". The Dixie Dregs (or simply, the Dregs) would go on to release over a dozen albums.
Even his fans might be forgiven for not realizing Morse recorded eight studio albums with Deep Purple, from 1996's "Purpendicular" to "Turning to Crime", released in 2021. He has released records under the Steve Morse Band, and some great instrumental solo albums ("High Tension Wires", "Major Impacts", "Major Impacts 2", "Split Decision"). Don't forget his stint in Kansas - in 1986, Morse joined the established rock group, and they released two albums, "Power" and "In the Spirit of Things".
Morse is considered one of the hardest working guitarists in the world, and I would certainly agree.
Rick Beato sat down at the end of 2023 with the 69-year-old Morse and recorded the following lengthy interview, in which Morse plays some music, discusses his time at the University of Miami, talks about how he decided to 'pick every note', and relates his battles with arthritis and how it has been necessary to retool his picking in order to keep playing at a high level.