Steve Morse on the Deep Purple smash he convinced Ian Gillan to sing: ‘Definitely needed to be there’

For years, Deep Purple didn’t play one of its earliest, career-making hits — until the new guy, Steve Morse, joined. Since, it’s become an free-form highlight of the band’s recent setlists.

“The one that I pushed the hardest for that the band wasn’t doing was ‘Hush,’ and I still love that,” Morse tells Songfacts. “We have a big improv section in there and it’s just a great feel from beginning to end for me.”

That goes for Gillan, too — who was apparently reluctant to sing the 1968 Joe South-composed track, since it predated his tenure in Deep Purple. “The lyrics,” Morse adds, “are not even lyrics. It’s just ‘na nana na na na nananana.’ It’s the most basic tune in the world, but to me Deep Purple got on the map as a hard rock band from doing that version of ‘Hush.’ So, I love that. And we stretch that out pretty far live.”

As for his long-time lead singer’s reservations? “It definitely needed to be there,” Morse adds. “I think it’s the only time that Ian Gillan sings a song from a version of Deep Purple when he wasn’t the singer … and that was the reason why he didn’t do it before.”

Deep Purple’s on-going North American tour continues this week to New York, Mississippi and Florida. The band stops tonight in Morristown, New Jersey.

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