Marsden interview with Fiona McKeown, October 2006
McKeown: Bernie, you have been in the music industry for over
30 years. You must be proud of your achievements in music. What
makes you different from other musicians and bands that have been
born, flourished and gone within this time?.
Marsden: It must be, over thirty
years now. I suppose I am proud of what has gone on, after all
I only ever wanted to play the guitar for a living, and that is
what I am still doing. I have seen so many bands and musicians
fade away, especially the ones in my early days that treated me
and my bands with contempt for no other reason than that they
were headlining the show, not all though, with great exceptions
such as Slade and Vinegar Joe.
Tell me about the guitars that you own / have owned?
We don't have enough space to go through all of these, except
that I have a good collection, some very special instruments.
Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off with one "Lucille"
but that never happened. Most guitarists have the guitar sickness
anyway, we all have considerable collections, ask David Gilmour,
Johnny Marr, Joe Walsh..
What was it like working with Whitesnake in the early days?
easy, very natural, a marriage made in London so to speak, David
and I became easy writing partners almost straight away. The Coverdale
/ Marsden / Moody writing team was quite formidable in its time,
check out those albums!
am sure you are asked this all the time! Would the classic Whitesnake
(1978-1982) line-up ever consider doing a one off tour? That would
be amazing to see.
used to say never say never, when he was asked this question in
Whitesnake about Deep Purple, so I will use his answer here, I
have to say that it could be a winner though.
While with Whitesnake you released two solo albums. The demo's
for your solo album "About Time Too" were recorded at David Coverdale's
house and he wrote half the lyrics.. tell me about these projects?
are very informed, that is quite correct, Julie Felix's house
to be exact. He was 100% supportive of me making solo recordings,
after Lovehunter he was very insistent about the matter, he wrote
the words and I was very grateful for all of his help, even more
so these days when I realise the pressure we were under.
I know you were influenced by The Beatles, Eric Clapton, and Jimi
Hendrix to name but a few who else were your early influences
and who influences you now?
much the same, add Donald Fagan, Duane Allman and BB King, throw
in some younger people like Pink, Orson and Oasis and I'm still
You are now friends with one of your biggest influences Peter
Green, how did that come about?
That is true, although it has been a while since I saw him in
person, just as I was finishing the sleeve notes to "Green and
Blues" his manager called me up and said that he was not "lost"
as I had put it, he was in Croydon and he would like to speak
toured with Suzi Quatro. This special lady seems to appear in
every interview I do. What is she like?
is special, a female survivor in the male dominated world of rock!
I met her at RAK records in 1974, and we toured together with
The Arrows and Cozy Powell. She was always friendly and always
gave 100% on stage, I liked that, the music was not my most favourite
but the people were great, her ex husband Len Tuckey is still
a good friend of mine. We recently worked the same show in Ireland;
Suzi was just the same, still knocking out those songs, good radio
show as well!
SOS (which later became Alaska) - Robert Hawthorn, Brian Badhams
& John Marter. How did you guys get together? Why did you split?
Through auditions, there were a couple of people before them in
the very short lived SOS. We toured, and made two albums that
sound pretty good with hindsight, but at the time I was never
100% into it and that was not fair on all the other people involved.
I still work with Brian in Elkie Brooks' band though.
are releasing, through Sanctuary, "A Snakeman's Odyssey" in November.
This is a fantastic album covering your full music career. It
is a fantastic opportunity for new Whitesnake fans to hear you
play and for all fans to have an awesome collection of your work.
How did you select the songs on there? What are your personal
A lot of people have been very complimentary about the anthology,
saying I must be proud to be asked to compile one. To be honest
I never thought about it in that way, though now that it is done
I see their point, having the anthology is a bit like a painting
exhibition of your work I suppose. I wanted to get as much as
possible in to it, so we even have Skinny Cat recordings on a
CD with some of the biggest Whitesnake, bizarre. There is an unreleased
version of a Cozy Powell song, Wild Turkey demos, Babe Ruth, I
couldn't get any UFO though, takes us up to Big Boy Blue in 2004.
There might even be a volume two.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
To: Read contracts.
you, what is the best album you have worked on?
It is almost impossible to choose, a bit like choosing your best
child, but I have to say that the Paice Ashton Lord album is a
very fine piece of work, I am very proud of that one, and I got
to have a release on Warner Brothers records, that was always
a personal goal, there is a track from it on the Anthology, "Ready
and Willing" is a favourite because that was the breakthrough
album for Whitesnake, I am also very happy with The Moody Marsden
band of work in the nineties.
you have any superstitions before going on stage?
Not really, just get on and do it!
is your favourite place in the world to play?
Where they want to hear me! Hammersmith Odeon with Whitesnake
was as good as it gets, the UK is always great to play, I love
gigging all over so bring 'em on!
album could you not be without?
Revolver by The Beatles, Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix.
wrote an album with Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden), which he sang
on.. What happened to that? Will it be released?
Adrian and I did write a bunch of songs, he is a great singer
as well as guitar player, they have not been released as yet,
but we have talked about it, good rock and roll stuff it is as
believe you used The Moody Marsden Band to gig with people you
respected at the time. Who was your fave? Why?
We did put guys into the band that we really liked as people and
as players. I loved having Terry Williams from Rockpile and Dire
Straits playing drums though.
Company of Snakes covered Whitesnake and rhythm and blues : why
change to M3?
to clear this up, TCOS and M3 are totally different bands, I stopped
TCOS because we were going around playing Whitesnake and TCOS
material, both would be well received but the Snake songs would
get a 90% louder cheer, so it was plain what the people wanted,
so I called Jimmy and Mark and said that we would play ONLY Whitesnake
from the classic line up period. That is what we do now; check
out the M3 DVD on Warners.
other things are you up to?
I have just been working with Robert Plant and Paul Weller, both
top men. To play those Led Zeppelin songs was a dream come true,
playing with Paul would have seemed so unlikely a few years ago
but we got along great together, both were very complimentary.
I play with Ringo Starr's band in Europe on occasion; just mixing
a new solo album, I have my own three piece and big r'n'b band,
there are not enough hours in the day!
you wish to add?
on a biography, not just about me I hope, it's about being on
the road over the last 30 years, a few laughs and some insight
into the great world of music.
you to Bernie for doing this interview and for all the awesome
music you have put on this planet!
Please check out Bernie's website: www.berniemarsden.com