Simon McBride said his opportunity to tour with Deep Purple was bittersweet due to the circumstances that brought it about.

In March, full-time guitarist Steve Morse revealed that he was taking a hiatus to spend time with his wife as she battles cancer. “Whatever time we have left in our lives, I simply must be there with her,” he said, naming the Irishman as his stand-in.

In a new interview with Classic Rock, McBride confirmed that discussions had taken place before the change was made. “I already knew the Purple thing might or might not happen,” he said. “And then, in March, when they told me it was definitely going ahead, I was like, ‘That’s great! But that means that Steve ... .’” He added that "it was a bittersweet emotion. My heart goes out to Steve and his wife. But I’m still going, ‘I get to play for Deep Purple. I get to put my name to that history.’”

Having already worked with Purple singer Ian Gillan and keyboardist Don Airey, McBride was aware of what to expect. “They’re quite fussy about how that song should be played,” he said of the band's signature song “Smoke on the Water.” “And there are certain Ritchie Blackmore solos, too, like ‘Highway Star.’ You can’t get away with playing anything else. But I don’t try to copy how Blackmore or Steve played. You just take the concepts they used and put your own thing to it.”

While Morse described McBride as a “world-class guitarist,” McBride was asked to speculate on what Blackmore might say of him. “It would be lovely if Ritchie gave me his blessing,” he replied. “But am I worried if he doesn’t? No, I’m not worried. Joe Satriani gave me his blessing, so that’s good enough for me. That’s my childhood hero … it’s like the hand of God saying, ‘You’re OK.’”

McBride recently released his latest solo album, The Fighter.

Deep Purple Albums Ranked

Their storied career spans over half a century, with more than 20 studio albums – in addition to many live and best-of sets.

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