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About a musician, Steve Morse (Part 1)

I have been writing blogs almost every week since last August, and the number of blogs I have published reaches to 50 now. 

Looking at the first blog again now, I see I wrote “In this blog, I would like to discuss various topics related to music in general, with a focus on music notation software from now on” but as a result, up until now I have only written about music notations. So this time I would like to take a little break from the topic of notation and write about my favorite musician, guitarist/composer Steve Morse.


I first encountered Steve Morse's music when I listened to the Steve Morse Band's “Coast To Coast” (1992) when I was a university student. Many of our generation, who spent our high school years amidst the Band Boom in Japan, continued to play guitar even after enrolling in university, and the most popular bands among us were Rush, Dream Theater, and Dixie Dregs and Steve Morse Band, both of which were led by Steve Morse.

I believe Steve Morse is very popular in the Western countries including his home country USA, but for some reason it seems he is not so popular in Japan.

So in this blog, as a small tribute to him from one of many big fans of Steve Morse for over 30 years, I will introduce some important YouTube videos that are currently available, and write a brief biography of him based on these videos. 

There is also a general interest in knowing what kind of careers modern successful musicians have. So, here I will add his age to each video and organize his achievements in chronological order.

【Table of Contents】

I. Part 1

1. Formation of Dixie Dregs (1975, age 21)

3. Participation in Kansas (1986, age 32)

II. Middle part

4. Steve Morse Band/Dixie Dregs’ restart (1988, age 34)

5. Participation in Deep Purple (1994, age 40)

6. Pursuit of diversity (2000s, late 40s)

  • Co-starring with Manuel Barrueco (2001, age 47)

  • Living Loud (2003, age 49)

  • “Major Impacts” series (2004, age 50)

  • Angelfire (2007, age 53)

III. Part 2

7. Formation of Flying Colors (2011, age 57)

8. Reunion of the original Dixie Dregs (2018, age 64)

9. Withdrawal from Deep Purple and return to roots (2022, age 68)

1. Formation of Dixie Dregs (1975, age 21)

Steve began his professional career with the band called Dixie Dregs with his high school classmate, bassist Andy West.

Steve and Andy, who both attended the University of Miami School of Music, went on to produce the album “The Great Spectacular” as a class project in 1975 with his classmates Allen Sloan (Vln.), Rod Morgenstein (Ds.), and Frank Josephs (E. Piano) as a special guest. This is Steve's first recording that we can hear today.

The songs included here are the base arrangements for the songs that were later included on Dixie Dregs' major debut album “Free Fall” (1977) and second album “What If” (1987), many of these songs later became standard numbers for Dixie Dregs’ live shows.

Dixie Dregs: “The Great Spectacular” (1975, age 21) *Audio only

This is a recording of a broadcasted live on KWFM radio that took place on May 30, 1978. 

This is a valuable live recording full of songs that are truly Dixie Dregs' signature songs, such as “Odyssey” from the second album “What If” which was later covered by Dream Theater, and “The Bash”, an up-tempo bluegrass rock song with full picking, that instantly made Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, who was a high school student at the time, become a big fan of Steve. 

Dixie Dregs - 1978 - KWFM Live - Bootleg Remaster - HD (1978, age 24) *Audio only

This is probably the oldest public video of Steve, it's a live recording held on July 23, 1978, at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

The camera was a professional shot, and both the sound and image quality were in very good condition for those days, it was also released on DVD.

Furthermore, at the end of this video, there is a video of a 1982 TV show appearance in which Mark O'Connor, a fiddle player who later became active in the classical world, participated on violin/second guitar, and a video of the 1979 live show with T. Lavitz (key.) has been added.

Dixie Dregs - Live At Montreux Jazz Fest (1978, age 24)

This is a performance of Cruise Control, one of Dixie Dregs' standard numbers, in which Mark O'Connor (Vln.) performed.

In addition, you can hear a version of this song performed as a live cover song in Dream Theater's 1995 work “A Change of Seasons”. 

Dixie Dregs Cruise Control 1981 (1981, age 27)

This is a video from a TV show, featuring songs from the first Dixie Dregs' last album, Industry Standard (1982). 

Although they were a band with such high musicality and performance ability, Dixie Dregs unfortunately disbanded after this album.

Steve Morse - Dixie Dregs - American Bandstand tv show - February 22, 1982 (1982, age 28)

2. Solo career and formation of the Steve Morse Band (1983, age 29)

Al Di Meola, also born in 1954, is an extremely skilled guitarist, and in his second album Elegant Gypsy (1977) he collaborated with a flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía. Since then he started working on acoustic guitar duo and trio.

It reached its peak with “Friday Night In San Francisco” released in 1981, and after that, various skilled guitarists began playing in this format. In 1983, Steve also appeared as a guest on this. He has collaborated with Al Di Meola and Paco de Lucia, as well as John McLaughlin, who Steve himself said was a major influence.

Unfortunately, there is no video, but you can listen to the two performances that took place on YouTube.

Steve's guitar solo stage, which opens the show as a guest, begins with a classical guitar, and halfway through he switches to an acoustic guitar played with a pick. This acoustic guitar solo has no studio recording or other live recording, it is a valuable one that can only be heard here.

The Guitar Trio and Steve Morse - Beacon Theater, New York City, New York, USA, 10-7-1983 (Complete) (1983, age 29) *Audio only

This recording also includes a valuable track of Paco's flamenco song “Palenque” performed by four people including Steve.

The Guitar Trio and Steve Morse - Boston Opera House, Boston, Mass. USA., September 30, 1983 (1983, age 29) *Audio only

This is a short video, less than 2 minutes long, and the image and sound quality are not good, but it is probably the only valuable publicly available video that records the guitar trio in which Steve participated.

Guardian Angel rare “guitar trio” (1983, age 29)

In 1984, Steve formed the first Steve Morse Band with drummer Rod Morgenstein, an ally from his Dixie Dregs days, and bassist Jerry Peek who were playing with a North Carolina-based jazz fusion funk group called "3PM", released two albums “The Introduction” (1984) and “Stand Up” (1985).

This is the only video recording of all stages of the first Steve Morse Band's live performance.

Steve Morse Band Koeln 1984 (1984, age 30)

This is the end of the activities of the33 first Steve Morse Band with Jerry Peak and Rod Morgenstein, but these two participated in “High Tension Wires”, which Steve released under his solo name in 1989. 

3. Participation in Kansas (1986, age 32)

Steve joined the American progressive rock band Kansas in 1985 and participated in the production of their two albums, “Power” (1986) and “In the Spirit of Things” (1988).

There isn't much footage of Steve from his time in Kansas, but he was credited as the composer along with Steve Walsh for the hit song “All I Wanted” which ranked 19th on the US Billboard Hot 100 n in 1987. Steve is also seen in the PV.

Kansas - All I Wanted (1986) (1986, age 32)

In the video below, which is said to have been recorded in 1988, you can see footage of Steve playing not only the guitar but also the violin.

KANSAS Live In Iceland USO Tour 1988 (1988, age 34)

During his time with Kansas in 1987-1988, Steve temporarily left the music industry and worked as a co-pilot for a commercial airline. Full-scale activities resumed in the latter half of 1988.

(Continue to Part 2)



The finale intensive course is being held in parallel on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. Click on the banner below for details. (Lecture is given in Japanese. ) 

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