Bernie Marsden obituary


Described by Guitar World journal as “one of many best British gamers to ever choose up an electrical guitar”, Bernie Marsden, who has died aged 72, was finest identified for his work with Whitesnake, the band shaped by the previous Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale in 1978. Coverdale described how “I’d met Bernie casually in Munich when he was with Paice Ashton Lord. He requested what I used to be doing on the town [London], and on being advised instantly provided to come back and assist out … shrewd, was ol’ Bernie.”

Marsden’s highly effective and expressive enjoying, in addition to his songwriting expertise, made him a mainstay of Whitesnake. He appeared on their debut EP, Snakebite, in addition to their first 5 studio albums and the in-concert set Reside within the Coronary heart of the Metropolis, which reached No 5 on the UK chart in 1980. It was one in every of a stream of excessive chart placings. Lovehunter (1979) reached 29, Prepared an’ Prepared (1980) reached No 6 in addition to getting into the US High 100, Come an’ Get It (1981) went to No 2 and Saints & Sinners (1982) reached No 9.

Marsden co-wrote the band’s first massive hit single, Idiot for Your Loving (13 within the UK, 53 within the US), and the High 40 hit Would I Misinform You. Above all, he wrote (with Coverdale) Right here I Go Once more. This reached 34 within the UK in 1982, however Whitesnake re-recorded it in 1987 as a beefed-up power-ballad that reached No 1 within the US and 9 within the UK. Nonetheless, by that point Marsden was now not with the band. Two years later, Idiot for Your Loving was given the same sonic overhaul and reached the US High 40.

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Bernie Marsden, left, and Mick Moody performing in 1981. {Photograph}: Ilpo Musto/Shutterstock

Bernie, the one youngster of Joe and Kathy Marsden, was born on the Westfields property in Buckingham. In his e-book The place’s My Guitar? (2019), he wrote that “my mum and pa had been working-class mother and father and boy, did they work arduous”. When he was 4, the household moved to a brand new council home in Overn Avenue. He failed his eleven-plus and attended an area secondary fashionable faculty. Marsden didn’t go to college, however was delighted to be awarded an honorary grasp’s diploma by the College of Buckingham in 2015.

He persuaded his mother and father to purchase him a second-hand Spanish guitar, then traded as much as an electrical mannequin after saving cash from a paper-round. After enjoying with a number of native teams he shaped Skinny Cat when he was 17. He advised Basic Rock journal: “I cherished Hank Marvin within the Shadows as a child, however Eric Clapton was the primary guitar participant I actually adored, as a result of I used to be sufficiently old to narrate to it. George Harrison comes into this as properly, then it was Peter Inexperienced.”

Marsden turned skilled in 1972 when he joined the arduous rock band UFO. He remembered that his mom warned him about “the drink and medicines and wild ladies,” to which he riposted: “That’s what I wish to do that for.”

Nonetheless, he later admitted he had not been prepared for what his new standing entailed. “I used to be naive and inexperienced, and thought that becoming a member of a professional band and transferring to London was going to be like the quilt of a Beatles EP, with everybody leaping within the air and being pleased,” he confessed. “It turned out to be something however.”

He stayed with UFO just for lengthy sufficient to play on a European tour and make a few demo recordings earlier than he was changed by the German guitarist Michael Schenker. In 1973 Marsden turned a member of Wild Turkey, the band shaped by the previous Jethro Tull bass participant Glenn Cornick, however this was one other short-lived engagement. In 1974 he joined the drummer Cozy Powell’s new band, Hammer, which achieved little past recording a single, Na Na Na, which acquired them on High of the Pops.

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Bernie Marsden was a eager collector of guitars. {Photograph}: Philip Sowels/Future

Marsden’s subsequent cease was Babe Ruth, with whom he was capable of file the albums Stealin’ Residence and Child’s Stuff. Then, beneficial by Powell, in 1977 he signed on with Paice Ashton Lord, which featured the previous Deep Purple members Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (keyboards), with Tony Ashton on vocals and keyboards. The band cut up in 1978 after Ashton fell off the stage throughout a present in London and broke his leg. The group had managed a solitary album, Malice in Wonderland.

Now Marsden’s luck modified, as he was recruited to Whitesnake, one other offshoot of Deep Purple. The group was assembled by Coverdale to advertise his second solo album, Northwinds, and was initially known as David Coverdale’s Whitesnake. The lineup teamed Marsden with a co-guitarist, Micky Moody, and after some stay performances the group gathered in Central Recorders Studio in London and recorded the Snakebite EP, launched in June 1978.

Two of the 4 songs, Steal Away and Come On, featured Marsden within the writing credit. He additionally steered the group ought to cowl Bobby “Blue” Bland’s R&B hit Ain’t No Love within the Coronary heart of the Metropolis, which turned a well-liked fixture of their stay performances.

In October 1978, Whitesnake launched their debut album, Bother, the lineup now together with Lord. It reached No 50 on the UK album chart. Marsden ultimately felt he was the place he belonged, and stated: “That is me, the primary time I’ve performed the way in which I actually am. Whitesnake is a loud R&B band.”

Nonetheless, Coverdale wished Whitesnake to undertake a extra polished, mainstream rock sound, with the goal of cracking the American market. Whereas Saints & Sinners was nonetheless being recorded, a sophisticated dispute erupted between the band and their administration, which left Marsden out of a job. Coverdale would subsequently assemble a brand new lineup. Marsden later took authorized motion to reclaim royalties owed to him.

He had already recorded a few solo albums, And About Time Too (1979) and Look At Me Now (1981). He shaped a brand new band, Alaska, who cut up after recording a few mid-80s albums.

Within the 90s he teamed up with Moody within the Moody Marsden Band, whose releases included By no means Flip Your Again On the Blues (1992) and Reside in Hell: Unplugged and Actual Religion (each 1994).

With the addition of one other Whitesnake refugee, the bass participant Neil Murray, the group morphed into Firm of Snakes, enjoying principally materials from the Whitesnake catalogue. This underwent varied personnel adjustments earlier than evolving into M3.

Marsden was a devoted collector of guitars, and particularly cherished his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Customary Burst, nicknamed “the Beast” and valued at over £1m. He revealed three editions of Tales of Tone and Quantity, books of high-quality images of his devices alongside his personal descriptions and anecdotes.

He’s survived by his spouse, Fran (nee Plummer), whom he married in 1980, and their daughters, Charlotte and Olivia.


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