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.”
In his adolescence and early 20s, Marsden, who was born in Buckingham, England, on May 7, 1951, began his career as a member of many British rock bands. In the early 1970s, he temporarily worked with UFO and Cosy Powell’s Hammer before joining Paice Ashton Lord, a band that also included Ian Paice, the drummer for Deep Purple, and Jon Lord, the keyboards. The band’s sole studio album, 1977’s Malice in Wonderland, featured Marsden.
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— David Coverdale (@davidcoverdale) August 25, 2023
RIP, Bernie XXX pic.twitter.com/KXwsDEICN6
The following year, Marsden and Coverdale, who had just finished a three-year run in Deep Purple, founded Whitesnake. He appeared on each of their first five studio albums, from 1980’s Live… in the Heart of the City through 1982’s Saints & Sinners, as well as the live album. Most notably, “Here I Go Again,” a song by Saints & Sinners that was co-written by Marsden and Coverdale, went to number one on the charts when it was reissued in 1987.
While Saints & Sinners was being recorded, Marsden departed Whitesnake because Coverdale was purging the band due to business, personnel, and personal issues. Later, he rejoined with former Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody in the Moody Marsden Band and the Snakes after splitting up with Alaska. Over the years, Marsden has contributed to numerous additional records in addition to releasing solo albums on a regular basis.
In the end, Marsden and Coverdale were once again close, and on his 2014 album Shine, a cover of Whitesnake’s “Trouble” included Coverdale. In a 2015 interview with UCR, the guitarist discussed Whitesnake’s turbulent beginnings.
“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.”