Former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden has died at 72.
Whitesnake leader David Coverdale shared a tribute to his former bandmate and co-writer on social media. “I’ve just woken up to the awful news that my old friend and former Snake Bernie Marsden has passed,” he wrote. “My sincere thoughts and prayers to his beloved family, friends and fans. A genuinely funny, gifted man, whom I was honored to know and share a stage with.”
Born on May 7, 1951, in Buckingham, England, Marsden cut his teeth playing with several British rock bands in his teens and early 20s. He linked up briefly with UFO and Cozy Powell’s Hammer in the early ‘70s before joining Paice Ashton Lord, featuring Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord. Marsden appeared on the band’s only studio album, 1977’s Malice in Wonderland.
The following year, Marsden formed Whitesnake with Coverdale, who was fresh off a three-year stint in Deep Purple. He appeared on their first five studio albums, through 1982’s Saints & Sinners, along with the 1980 live album Live … in the Heart of the City. Most notably, Marsden and Coverdale co-wrote Saints & Sinners’ “Here I Go Again,” which became a chart-topping smash upon its rerelease in 1987.
Marsden left Whitesnake during the making of Saints & Sinners, as financial, managerial and familial troubles caused Coverdale to clean house. He formed the band Alaska and later reunited with ex-Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody in both the Moody Marsden Band and the Snakes. Marsden also released a steady clip of solo albums and performed on many other recordings over the years.
Marsden eventually rekindled his relationship with Coverdale and featured him on a remake of Whitesnake’s “Trouble” on his 2014 album Shine. The guitarist reflected on Whitesnake’s restless early days in a 2015 interview with UCR.
“Two albums a year. I look at it now and think, ‘How did we do that?’” he said. “Sooner or later, there comes a time where you have to say, ‘We’ve got to take a break,’ and that was Saints & Sinners. The more work they loaded onto us, instead of bringing us tighter together at that point, it kind of broke us apart. So what’s really good for you can end up destroying you as well. But by then, we’d had a pretty good time.”
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