Steve J. Morse is an American musician and composer who specializes in the instrumental rock genre. Although most commonly affiliated with rock music, Morse was first influenced by genres such as Jazz, Fusion and Classical. In a vested career that began in the early 1970s, Morse has been part of bands such as the Dixie Dregs, The Kansas and Deep Purple, producing some of the most complimentary tracks the classic music world has to offer. A distinguishing feature often quite blatantly incorporated in his music was his ability to fuse a wide range of genres and make mesmerizing tracks as a result.
Morse’s career took off slowly, often culminating in abrupt junctures where most musicians would simply give up. However, Morse was adamant on driving through these rough patches. A remarkable attribute common to most of Morse’s works was a personified use of melodic rhythmic patterns, intense merging of rock, classical, folk and country elements, and typified stress on experimental arrangements in the compositions. Throughout most of his early career, Morse’s music was meant for only a certain class of experimental music enthusiasts and largely avoided commercial acclaim.
In his early 20s, Morse enrolled in the University of Miami (School of Music), one of the most prestigious music schools of the time. It was here for the first time that his compositional skills were noticed by some of his close friends such as Andy West, with whom he would later form the Dixie Dregs. In 1975, Morse and West began work on a few records under the Capricorn Records label. Most of the works produced would entail jazz, hard rock and fusion elements, with vocals added only very late as a result of commercial pressure. After the releases of Free Fall (1977) and What If (1978), Morse’s compositional ability became widely known and as a result, he was invited to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival of 1978. However, despite the constant efforts of Morse’s mangers to introduce vocals in to their tracks, albums such as Unsung Heroes (1981) and Industry Standard (1982) still had mixed reviews overall.
In spite of some regrettable failures in the commercial context, The Dixie Dregs days did manage to bring out some of the best compositions for Morse. After the band’s separation in 1983, Morse embarked on his own venture, the Steve Morse Band. During this time, albums such as The Introduction (1984) and Stand Up (1985) saw a return to his initial passion to produce instrumental music. Soon after, Morse joined another band, called Deep Purple and collaborated with them on five of their albums, while also occasionally filling in the role of lead and rhythm guitarist in their live sessions. One of his first efforts with the band was the 1996 top charting album, Purpendicular, with Morse taking writing roles on songs like Sometimes I feel Like Screaming. His performances of the song featured some outstanding guitar techniques, with soothing arpeggio arrangements and an impressive use of harmonics.
Some of Morse’s recent projects have included bands such as Living Loud, Angelfire and Flying Colors, with whom he has experimented with a number of genres. Morse’s legendary vision, conceptual framework, song writing skills and guitar arrangements are a few factors that have contributed to a long-lasting and successful music career, with artists like John Petrucci and Shawn Lane often regarded as guitarists following Steve Morse’s footsteps.