‘Here I Go Again’…Full interview with Bernie Marsden.

As we're here with local guitar legend; Bernie Marsden.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to The New Roxette.

Bernie Marsden was one of the original members of Whitesnake (1978-1982) having played on the group's first eight releases, and lent a major hand in composing some of the band's most renowned songs, like ‘Here I Go Again’, ‘Fool For Your Loving’, and ‘Would I Lie To You’. Now living near Buckingham, we chat in his memorabilia store Vinyl Riches in Buckingham about Whitesnake, his amazing and interesting career, guitars, recent gigs and recording inside a 1963 Airstream Overlander Caravan!

TNR: Bernie, you have been in the music industry for over 30 years. You’ve obviously seen a lot of changes within the industry, how has this affected you personally, and the choices you’ve made, and the music you’ve created?

I turned pro at the end of 1972, so it’s been a while; things change of course, but not that much really.

If you looked at a Melody Maker from 1975, headliners are Eric Clapton, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bee Gees, Deep Purple; well most of those guys are still the main men!

I worked with Andy Taylor after he left Duran Duran, he told me a lot of stuff, but as successful as they were, it wasn’t Zeppelin was it!

The biggest change is recording, you can literally make an album at home now, that was impossible when I started, but it don’t make the album any better.

I was Mickie Most’s house guitarist at RAK in the seventies for a while,- now he knew how to make records, if he was around today he would have been able to pay us even less, no studio costs, he would have me record at his house. Great man!

TNR: What was it like working with Whitesnake in the early days?

Very funny, very hard work, very underpaid, very successful, not necessarily in that order though!

It was great time artistically; David, Micky and I knew almost from the first day that we had something special going on.

We toured non stop, broke really big everywhere except the US, and then after the band split David had great success over there, thankfully!

We made some good albums, I think the test of time is good to them, some are now what they call classic rock, well that will do me!

We played with many people in the early days, many would not have us on the bill, no names, but Nazareth did early on, bless ‘em, and later AC/DC, and that tour broke us in Germany, we went from 50.000 to 500.000 album sales after the Back In Black tour, we should have gone to the States with them, but David broke his leg in Germany and we couldn’t go, who know what may have happened?

TNR: Do you think Whitesnake would be interested in performing at Aylesbury’s very own Hobble on the Cobbles free Music Festival one year? Now that would be a spectacular event!

I could put a nice line up together for the HOTC, if you want Whitesnake you will have to call David!

I had a line up called M3 playing classic Whitesnake, always great gigs, but endless aggravation with promoters who would insist on putting M3 in the contract and Whitesnake on the posters! It gets tiresome after a while, being asked if you are a tribute to yourself!

TNR: Who were your early musical influences and who influences you now?

The Beatles, Hank Marvin, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, it was a good time to be learning to play rock guitar folks!

First time I saw The Cream was in Aylesbury Assembly Hall, 1967, played the gig myself about a year later.

Local musicians will know this, they had a line on the stage at the hall, it stated, “No amplifiers in front of this line”

Can you imagine what Clapton thought when he got to the gig!

Happy days.

Today? I listen to African music a lot, West and North Africa mostly and Jeff Beck still inspires me, he is still on the cutting edge.

TNR: What was the last single or album you bought, and/or downloaded?

I bought a couple of CD’s, I like Pink’s work, she is always not quite what you expect song wise, and that song “Not Gonna Write You A Love Song” can’t remember her name, great piano intro, clever song, and good album, I have two teenage daughters, so I’m on the money with new stuff, its in the house whether I like it or not, they have good taste though!

TNR: How many guitars do you currently own, and what was the last guitar you bought?

I have a few, I now endorse Paul Reed Smith guitars, and acoustically I use Stanford guitars, I will have a signature Stanford in 2009, check out their website, nice instruments.

PRS are great makers, I have a collection of old Fender and Gibson guitars that has been quite well documented over the years, Check my website and you can see a few of them, nice pictures!

TNR: You recently played and recorded an acoustic gig at The Radcliffe Centre in Buckingham. How was that, and what else have you got lined up for 2009?

I recorded an evening of acoustic music, some Whitesnake, some covers and some new stuff, I played the British Acoustic Festival this year and the gig was amazing, also got a chance to hook up with the Marillion guys after a long break, nice people, a credit to the town!

I have an album of covers in the can, Cream, Jimi, Taste, Johnny Winter, stuff I grew up with, Jimmy Copley plays the most amazing drums on the tracks, I have to release it if only for the drummers!

I am rehearsing for my “Bernie plays Rory” tour for 2009.

I will be celebrating the great man’s music from The Taste until his untimely passing.

Rory Gallagher was a great musician and a good friend to me, his music is timeless, I won’t be impersonating him, nobody can, I will simply try to put across his music my way, if the early signs are to go by, it will be a good show for fans.

TNR: You recorded this gig with Rockhopper Studios, which is a mobile, fully restored 1963 Airstream Overlander Caravan. How did you find the whole experience and will you be looking to release this album soon?

I enjoyed working with Steve and Rockhopper, easy to get along with, and the sound is good, captured the moment(s) beautifully!

The CD should be ready for early 2009, and tracks available on the website before that.

We also recorded a few guitar instrumentals; I might make them available as a download. I used one of my old Les Paul’s through a Marshall, nothing else, - guitar and amp, amazing sound!

TNR: What other things are you up to at the moment?

I’m always up to something! I have a nice situation in Croatia, I have been playing some shows and it’s looking good, nice people, nice venues and good weather in the summer for festivals!

I will be doing PRS clinics across the country, and in Europe 2009, promoting all of the above no doubt, the main thing will be the Rory shows.

TNR: Anything else you wish to add or tell us about?

Quirky thing, I never played Friars in any band I was with, although I rehearsed in Aylesbury though, with Cozy Powell. ‘Hammer’ were up there two/three days a week in 1974, me, Don Airey, Neil Murray and CP.


Please complete the sentence!

I couldn't live without… My family

My worst habit is… poor punctuality

My favourite guitar is… the next one

I'm not particularly good at… Mornings

Readers will be surprised to learn that… I appeared on the stage in The National Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare in 2001 (and that is not the only time I have appeared in Shakespeare at the National!)

Not a lot of people know that in the early days Whitesnake were introduced on an ATV show in 1978 by the late Peter Cook, strange but true!

I co-starred in a six part German TV drama series in 1995.