Steve Howe sings the praises of fellow guitarist Steve Morse: ‘The breadth of the music!’

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Steve Morse, as Ritchie Blackmore’s successor in Deep Purple, doesn’t always get the respect he deserves. But no less a guitarist than Steve Howe still remembers precisely where he was when he first heard Morse. It was as part of the Dixie Dregs’ well-respected, though light-selling 1978 project What If.

“I went bananas,” Steve Howe tells Rhino. “I was, like … ‘Who is this guy? This is a hit record, right?’ And they said, ‘No.’ And I was, like, ‘This isn’t a hit record? This isn’t in the American charts?’ ‘No!’ I said, ‘I’ve got to get through to them. This is the most incredible record!'”

Steve Morse joined Deep Purple in 1994, but continues with occasional modern-day reunions with the Dregs, a band he co-founded in 1970. What If made him at least one life-long fan in Steve Howe, guitarist with Yes and former co-founding member of Asia.

“It’s astounding instrumental music,” Howe says of the Steve Morse’s work on What If. “The breadth of the music! Like me, he was doing other styles of music: quasi-classical, quasi-country. … Steve’s a master guitar player. And I feed off the knowledge I got off these other guys who are shit-hot.”

Steve Morse’s most recent studio project was Deep Purple’s well-received comeback Now What?! He’s also a member of the all-star group Flying Colors. Steve Howe, meanwhile, issued a two-disc anthology recently that focused on his underrated solo career. He was also a key creative force behind Yes’ most recent album, Heaven and Earth.

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