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Deep Purple star Steve Morse has quit the band to care for his wife during her battle with cancer.
The guitarist took a break from the group in the autumn after his partner Janine was diagnosed with cancer but he has now decided to make the hiatus permanent so he can stay at home and look after her as she undergoes treatment.
In a statement, Steve explained: "Last Autumn, I suddenly left the Purple writing session in Germany because my wife was having a real medical crisis.
"Almost a year later, we are learning to accept stage four aggressive cancer and chemo treatment for the rest of her life.
"We both miss being at shows, but I simply couldn’t commit to long or far away tours, since things can change quickly at home."
Steve - who was temporarily replaced by Simon McBride on tour - went on: "I suggested lining up a substitute guitarist last Autumn, hoping we could see the miraculous cancer cure all of us have heard about. As time went by, I could see the way things were heading though, after 28 years of being in the band."
He insisted he'll miss his bandmates and their crew, but he needs to be with his wife.
Steve added: "I’ll miss everybody in the band and crew but being Janine’s helper and advocate has made a real difference at many key points.
"As Janine adjusts to her limitations, she is able to do many things on her own, so we will try to play some shorter nearby concert tours with friends to – hopefully – get both of us out of the house!"
Steve's Deep Purple bandmate Ian Gillan added in a statement: "All this has come at a terrible time for everybody, including the other musicians in Deep Purple. After two years off the road because of quarantines everywhere, we had to get back to what we do ...
"As we get older, we realise that we’re much closer to the end, and that triggers an urgency that won’t be tamed. From Steve’s perspective, I can only imagine that there is no possible ‘nice’ way of continuing with a new man, but it is either that or call it a day, because the lack of momentum was gradually becoming something more significant; it felt terminal."
He added: "The best way I can describe this is by using Steve’s own words; when I sent him a love letter a few weeks ago, he replied that it was weird being at home whilst we guys were out there, but 'reality intervenes' … and that’s what has happened.
"I can only put out love and respect, and positive vibes at the memories of good times together."