Whitesnake Guitarist Bernie Marsden Dies At 72

Bernie Marsden, the original guitarist of the immensely popular 1980s metal group Whitesnake, passed away on Thursday night at the age of 72. The news was initially conveyed by former bandmate and lead singer of Whitesnake, David Coverdale, and has been confirmed by a statement from Marsden’s family.

Born in 1951 in Buckingham, England, Marsden had already been part of several notable bands, including UFO and Paice Ashton Lord, by his mid-20s. It wasn’t until 1978 that he achieved international recognition, when he co-founded Whitesnake (originally known as “David Coverdale’s Whitesnake”) alongside guitarist Micky Moody and David Coverdale, who had recently departed from Deep Purple.

Reflecting on his time performing with Whitesnake, Marsden noted, “Certain moments in your career feel like pivotal turning points. While I was playing, I observed everything unfolding, thinking to myself: ‘This is the band you always envisioned being a part of.’”

Marsden remained an integral part of Whitesnake until 1982, during which time he co-wrote some of the band’s most iconic hits, including tracks like “Fool for You Loving” and “Here I Go Again.” The latter song, arguable as Whitesnake’s most recognizable hit, underwent a revision for the band’s 1987 album “Whitesnake,” released after Marsden had departed from the group.

In an interview with Louder, Marsden revealed that crafting the song was a swift process, requiring under a day’s time. This composition swiftly ascended to the pinnacle of the U.S. singles chart, maintaining its residence within the top 10 for numerous weeks. “The entire process took around two hours,” Marsden shared. “The pieces fell into place rather rapidly. When I presented it to David, his excitement was palpable. He retreated to his space and proceeded to rework and reimagine the lyrics. This course of action posed no issue for me, as our collaborative approach at the time was evenly balanced, a true fifty-fifty partnership.”

Following his tenure with Whitesnake, Marsden initiated several individual musical ventures and engaged in collaborations with prominent figures, as highlighted by Guitar World. Noteworthy luminaries he collaborated with include “Robert Plant, Paul Weller, Jon Lord, Ringo Starr, Rory Gallagher, Jack Bruce, and Warren Haynes.” In addition to his musical pursuits, he penned an autobiography titled “Where’s My Guitar: An Inside Story of British Rock and Roll,” which saw publication in 2017.

Marsden’s most recent musical offering, the album “Trios,” was introduced to the public in August 2022, as acknowledged by Billboard. During the same year, Marsden underwent a surgical procedure and encountered health setbacks, including an incident of “acute dehydration,” as conveyed through a statement he shared on social media last August. These challenges ultimately led to the cancellation of a tour originally slated for late 2022, and it appears that he did not resume touring thereafter.

On Friday, David Coverdale conveyed the news of Marsden’s departure, portraying him as “truly humorous and immensely talented.” Subsequently, Marsden’s family authenticated his passing through an Instagram post. The statement revealed, “Bernie passed away serenely on Thursday evening, accompanied by his wife Fran and daughters Charlotte and Olivia.” It continued, “Throughout his journey, Bernie remained unwavering in his ardor for music, persistently engaging in the creation and recording of novel compositions until the very end.”

In a 2020 interview, Marsden reflected on his accomplishments and emphasized the significance of devoted fans in a musician’s journey, considering it as vital as skill or fortunate circumstances. He shared with Louder, “I believe that if you possess talent, fortune will eventually favor you. My constant endeavor has been to deliver performances with genuine sincerity, as it’s the audience—those who generously attend concerts—who form the cornerstone of our existence.”

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