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Steve Morse has enjoyed a healthy following particularly among guitar players, he has scored highly in readers' polls held annually by musicians' magazines. Although initially inspired by the Beatles as a teen, Morse began to expand his listening to include the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. Although he played a little piano and some clarinet, he became fascinated with guitar after seeing a concert by classical guitarist Juan Mercadal, who later gave the teenaged Morse some lessons. Deeply influenced by a campus performance by John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra while he was attending the University of Miami, Morse decided to focus on instrumental rock music; in 1974 he put together his first band, the Dixie Dregs (later simply the Dregs), which would go on to become one of the defining groups in the fusion genre. After Morse had fronted the Dregs on some 14 albums, the Steve Morse Band began their recording career in 1984. Soon after, Elektra Records snatched Morse up and he cut two albums for the label, The Introduction in 1984 and Stand Up in 1985, before joining Kansas and appearing on two of the arena prog band's albums for the MCA label, Power (1986) and In the Spirit of Things (1988). Morse then signed to MCA as a solo artist, and in the late '80s and early '90s his albums for the label included High Tension Wires (1989), Southern Steel (1991), and Coast to Coast (1992). After leaving MCA in 1992, Morse recorded two excellent albums for Windham Hill/BMG Records, Structural Damage (1995) and StressFest (1996), and in 1994 he joined Deep Purple as a replacement for Ritchie Blackmore, appearing on a number of the hard-rocking metallers' live albums as well as four studio-recorded long-players over the course of nearly a decade: Purpendicular (1996), Abandon (1998), Bananas (2003), and Rapture of the Deep (2005). Meanwhile, in 2003 Morse joined the supergroup Living Loud, also featuring vocalist Jimmy Barnes (INXS, Cold Chisel) and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake; the band released its eponymous debut full-length in 2003 and, following the addition of Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey to the lineup, the CD Live in Sydney 2004 (2005) and companion DVD Debut Live Concert: Sydney Fox Studios, 2004 (2006). The Steve Morse Band's Out Standing in Their Field arrived in 2009, and the following year saw the release of Angelfire, a collaboration between Morse and singer/songwriter Sarah Spencer. ~ Richard Skelly