Bernie Marsden, the British guitarist who played with David Coverdale’s Whitesnake in the late ’70s and early ’80s and co-wrote hits including “Here I Go Again” and “Fool for Your Loving” and had a long solo career, died Thursday. He was 72.
Coverdale shared the news in a social media post, calling his former bandmate “A genuinely funny, gifted man, whom I was honored to know and share a stage with.” He didn’t share any other details.
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Good Morning…I’ve just woken up to the awful news that my old friend & former Snake Bernie Marsden has passed. My sincere thoughts & prayers to his beloved family, friends & fans. A genuinely funny, gifted man, whom I was honored to know & share a stage with
RIP, Bernie XXX pic.twitter.com/KXwsDEICN6
— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) August 25, 2023
Born on May 7, 1951, in Birmingham, Marsden played with various local bands before linking up with pre-Michael Schenker UFO. He didn’t last long with that group, touring briefly with them recording only a few unreleased demos produced by Dave Edmunds in 1972. “I was naïve and green,” he said in a 2020 interview with BraveWords, “and thought that joining a pro band and moving to London was going to be like the cover of a Beatles EP, with everyone jumping in the air and being happy. It turned out to be anything but.”
Marsden continued to gig and record with bands including Cozy Powell’s Hammer and Deep Purple spinoff Paice Ashton Lord. It was while recording with the latter that he met Coverdale, and the pair hit it off.
“He was like a surrogate brother to me,” Marsden told BraveWords. “Neither of us had any brothers or sisters, we were born in the same year, and even though we grew up two hundred miles apart we discovered we had the same influences; once I started talking about Howlin’ Wolf he was all ears.”
He joined Whitesnake in late 1977 and toured with the group, then known as David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, before playing on its 1978 album Snakebite. It failed to chart in the UK or U.S., but the follow-up Lovehunter reached No. 50 in the UK the following year.
But Whitesnake was about to strike on both sides of the pond.
Former Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord and Ian Paice had joined the band by the time Ready an’ Willing was released in 1980. It hit the UK Top 10, spawning the Coverdale-Marsden single “Fool for You Loving,” which made No. 13 in Great Britain and was an FM hit stateside. The song later was re-recorded for Whitesnake’s 1989 album Slip of the Tongue, but Marsden had left the group by then.
He did stay with Coverdale’s band for its ensuing live disc and two more studio albums, Come an’ Get It (1981) and Saints & Sinners (1982). The latter featured two songs that would be re-cut for Whitesnake’s mammoth eponymous 1987 album: “Here I Go Again” and “Crying in the Rain.” Marsden co-wrote the former, which would become a No. 1 single in the U.S. and Top 10 in the UK — featuring the memorable video starring Coverdale and his then-girlfriend Tawny Kitaen.
Saints & Sinners hit the UK Top 20 but failed to chart stateside, and Marsden would leave Whitesnake soon after its release. He went on to tour and record with bands including Alaska, The Snakes and others, while playing on numerous albums by the likes of Jack Bruce, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. Marsden also had a long solo career spanning several albums and educational discs. His final set, Trios, came out last year.
His autobiography Where’s My Guitar was released in 2017.
Marsden is survived by his wife and two daughters.
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