Northern Ireland man Simon McBride has officially become a permanent member of rock royalty Deep Purple, after filling in for veteran guitarist Steve Morse over the last year.
he band said they were “thrilled” to fully welcome the Belfast-born musician into their ranks, after Morse announced he was completely stepping down in July, due to family reasons.
In a statement on the group’s website, they said: “Simon’s playing is up there with the greats. Of course, Steve can’t be replaced, the same as Ritchie [Blackmore], and Steve has a long legacy with Deep Purple. In Simon we have not found a replacement, but an extraordinarily talented and exciting guitarist in his own right.”
McBride will be filling big shoes, as Morse was the band’s longest-serving guitarist, having joined in 1994 and played with the English band for the last 28 years.
The NI native was enlisted as a step-in electric guitar player in March of this year, when Morse took a temporary break to take care of his wife, who has cancer.
“The reception from audiences over the summer has already been great and we are looking forward to the forthcoming dates in the UK and Europe across the rest of the year,” added Deep Purple. “It is clear that Simon also holds great respect for those before him. We are all excited for what the years to come hold for the band.”
McBride stated: “At the start of the pandemic if someone would have said to me that I was going to be the new guitarist in Deep Purple I would have just laughed, but here we are and it’s happening. Deep Purple has a history of great guitarists so I’m very honoured to be asked to be part of that. They are all amazing musicians and more importantly, I have become very good friends with the guys so I can’t wait to continue touring and even perhaps some writing and recording.”
Alongside touring with Deep Purple this year, the 43-year-old also released his latest solo album, The Fighter, in May.
In 1972, Deep Purple were cited as the world’s loudest band by the Guinness Book of World Records.