Making a Scene Presents Gerry Casey’s Interview with Bernie Marsden
It’s fair to say for most of us there are certain bands that provided the soundtrack to our lives. In my case Whitesnake was one of those bands. “Songs like Fool For Your Lovin’ Love hunter, Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues , and of course the multi million selling Here I Go Again. So when I was offered the opportunity to interview Bernie this was indeed a special occasion for me . In this interview Bernie takes the listeners back to the earliest days of his career then takes us on a journey that defined blues rock and changed it forever. Bernie also speaks of his current projects and the release of his latest album Chess .” Once again this is another interview you will not want to miss
Bernie Marsden is an English rock and blues guitarist born in Buckingham, England. A professional musician since 1972, he is primarily known for his work with Whitesnake having written or co-written many of the group’s hit songs, most notably the USA number one “Here I Go Again”. Bernie is also renowned as one of the greatest rock and blues guitarists of all time.
After a couple of early teen bands he formed Skinny Cat at the age of 17, acquiring a strong local following. Turning professional with UFO in 1972. His following continued to grow across Europe. Leaving UFO to join Glenn Cornick’s Wild Turkey in 1973, touring the UK and Europe, making his first BBC recordings. He was “headhunted”by no less than legendary drummer Cozy Powell to be in his new band Hammer, the line up included Deep Purple’s Don Airey. Hammer didn’t last long, only recording one top ten hit for Mickie Most’s RAK Label, and an infamous UK tour with Suzi Quattro. Babe Ruth was next, making two albums for Capitol Records. Cozy Powell recommended him for the new Paice Ashton Lord group in 1977. Featuring Deep Purple founding members Ian Paice and Jon Lord. One classic recording resulted, “Malice in Wonderland” and it was over.
Bernie’s next gig was to be his career defining moment – joining and forming Whitesnake with David Coverdale. There had been a possibility of playing with his boy-time hero Paul McCartney and Wings, but while waiting, he met David Coverdale, and the rest is history…
Bernie played on the first EP, the first five albums and a live album: Snakebite (1978), Trouble (1978), Lovehunter (1979), Ready & Willing (1980), Live In The Heart Of The City (1980), Come An’ Get It (1981) and Saints & Sinners. There was also time for two solo albums, “And About Time Too” which was top ten in Japan! The follow up was “Look at Me Now”. His time in Whitesnake, and his legacy of songs, remains in the forefront of his musical career.
After leaving Whitesnake in 1981, Marsden formed Alaska, making two albums in the 1980’s, briefly forming MGM with Neil Murray and Mel Galley. That band also included Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball.
Into the 1990’s, various versions of Whitesnake based music followed, “Company of Snakes and M3“ produced a couple of albums. Bernie then became a solo artist and produced several CD albums, the critically acclaimed “Green and Blues” in 1996” followed by “Big Boy Blue, Stacks, Bernie Plays Rory”.
At the Sweden Rock Festival in 2011 Bernie Marsden played with Whitesnake for the first time since 1981, thus becoming the only original member of Whitesnake to play with a later line up, this has happened many times since Sweden.
In more recent years, Marsden has been involved in very different projects. The most unusual being two engagements in 2001 and 2003 at the National Theatre in London for Sir Nickolas Hytner. He also appeared in 6 part television series for German tv called “Frankie”
There were two Bernie Marsden endorsed guitars for a period in 2015, a PRS Bernie Marsden Guitar, and the legendary Gibson company made a very limited run of his iconic 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, known universally as “The Beast”. A limited edition of 300 sold out very quickly. Bernie owns Number 1! The original guitar is now retired, but “The Beast” is seen at selected concert halls! A guitar played by Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, Jared Nicholls and other selected luminaries!
After many years self producing his music he signed a new record deal with Mascot Provogue Records in Holland, making “Shine” at Abbey Road Studios in London The album, released in 2014, features guest appearances from David Coverdale and Joe Bonamassa. He has also produced a blues documentary, “A Day in the Delta”, filmed in Mississippi.
In early 2017 Bernie self-published his autobiography, “Where’s My Guitar: On the Tourbus with the Snakeman” to great acclaim from fans. The book covers Bernie’s musical journey with humour and honesty and features many private, unseen pictures from his career.
Outside of making records Bernie has played with some of the greatest rock and roll musicians of all time. Playing alongside Robert Plant, Paul Weller, Jon Lord, Gary Moore, being part of the Ringo Starr Band, Cozy Powell, Rory Gallagher, Jack Bruce, Warren Haynes, Joe Bonamassa. His stories and recollection of recording and playing live with Ginger Baker alone could be another book.
As we move into 2020 he is as active as ever, visiting his hero Peter Green to jam and chat, or writing with Joe Bonamassa for his next album. A UK tour in May, festivals through Europe into the summer and an Autumn book tour for the release by 4th Estate paperback version of “Where’s My Guitar”, Bernie is now a signed HarperCollins author. His third “Guitar Mojo” mentoring weekend and the wonderful Stowe School is in July 2020. New recordings are also being made ready and a podcast planned.