September 1, 2023

OPETH leader Mikael Åkerfeldt has paid tribute to original WHITESNAKE guitarist Bernie Marsden following his death on August 24. He was 72 years old.

On August 30, Mikael took to OPETH's social media to write: "It's with great sadness we received the news of Bernie Marsden's passing. A superb and influential guitarist and a lovely bloke. We met a few times over the years, and we had the pleasure of dining (at length) with him during the NAMM music fair once. Fredrik [Åkesson, OPETH guitarist] and I were sat with him and some other artists at a private PRS guitars hosted dinner. PRS himself were sat opposite to me, and I had Fredrik to the left and Bernie to the right. Bernie was into some type of fruit punch, which I found amusing for some reason. He kept ordering them while the rest of us sat sipping some over-expensive wine I had ordered on Paul Reed Smith's tab. He didn't mind (I think!). Of course, I bombarded Bernie with questions about his career. Especially his WHITESNAKE days. A band I have loved since childhood. He didn't put himself on a pedestal at all but was instead very down to earth. A quite common thing for older rockers I must add, and it's always highly appreciated."

He continued: "Musically, Bernie did so much. Until recently, I didn't even know he was briefly in UFO! He's been a member of BABE RUTH and WILD TURKEY and he has played together with our very own Joakim Svalberg! As it turns out Bernie was also a avid record collector. A good trait for any human being.

"Once Bernie and I had gotten the niceties out of the way we dove straight into talking about rare pressings of BEATLES records and obscure progressive rock. I remember he was looking for a original UK copy of the first FREE LP, which I actually found and gave him. It was a good feeling giving something back to someone like him, who's been such an inspiring figure in our own musical ventures.

"Thank you, Bernie Marsden, for everything! In closing I'd like to give our most sincere condolences to Bernie's friends and family. He will be sorely missed."

Bernie's passing was confirmed by his family in a social media post on August 25. They wrote: "On behalf of his family, it is with deep sadness we announce the death of Bernie Marsden. Bernie died peacefully on Thursday evening with his wife, Fran, and daughters, Charlotte and Olivia, by his side.

"Bernie never lost his passion for music, writing and recording new songs until the end."

WHITESNAKE singer David Coverdale shared a tribute to his former bandmate 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."

Marsden was one of the U.K.'s foremost rock and blues guitarists, famous for his time in professional bands since 1972 and a founding member of one of the biggest rock acts of all time, the mighty WHITESNAKE.

But there was a lot more to this man, from his first band UFO to treading the boards of the National Theatre in London, on stage with Ringo Starr in Monaco, playing the Beacon Theatre in New York with THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, writing and playing with Joe Bonamassa and MOTÖRHEAD.

His long-term friendships with so many top names in the guitar business, Billy Gibbons, Steve Lukather, Warren Haynes, as well as rejoining the new WHITESNAKE lineup of recent years and a solo career kept him both on the road and in the studio. He became interested in guitars as a teenager watching THE BEATLES, his fascination continued to his final days. Bernie also developed one of the most unique and expansive private guitar collections in the world.

At a rough guesstimate, Marsden's name appears on a hundred albums — maybe more. In addition to a long-running solo career, the Buckinghamshire-born guitarist had been a recording musician since the early 1970s via membership of such groups as WHITESNAKE, UFO, WILD TURKEY, BABE RUTH, PAICE ASHTON & LORD, COZY POWELL'S HAMMER, ALASKA, M3 and many more. Though there's a tendency to pigeonhole him as a blues-rock guitarist, each of Marsden's acts had its own individual flavor.

In a March 2018 interview with Tigman of the Albany, New York radio station Q103, Marsden stated about his time with WHITESNAKE: "When I look back on it, it was very, very busy — very hectic. I mean, we were touring pretty much all the time, and then we would break specifically to make two records a year, which seems crazy these days, but that's the way it was. And if you look back, it didn't hurt anybody — the creative juices were still flowing, and we managed to write some pretty good material. And it all went very, very well for three or four years. And then we came to an end roundabout '82. David [Coverdale, WHITESNAKE mainman] relocated to America — he lives up in Nevada — and put the band back together in the mid-'80s, but with kind of an American lineup. And that's the band that re-recorded 'Here I Go Again', and the rest of that is kind of history, and [that song] has kind of become an American anthem."

As for what he thought about Coverdale re-recording some of the early WHITESNAKE material with later lineups, Bernie said: "It was four or five years between the two things, and there was no bitterness or anything, I was not thinking, 'Oh, man. That should be me.' I don't work like that. I could listen to WHITESNAKE roundabout the '87 period and onwards, and to this day, when I still play with them occasionally. When they come over to Europe, I very often get up on stage and guest with them. But it was a different band. I could listen to WHITESNAKE then as if it was JOURNEY or FOREIGNER or TOTO, you know what I mean? I liked what they were doing. It wasn't the kind of thing we were doing — it was slightly more adult-orientated rock rather than what I was doing, [which was] kind of blues rock. But a good song is a good song, and as long as you have good musicians, it's always gonna sound good."

It’s with great sadness we received the news of Bernie Marsden’s passing. A superb and influential guitarist and a...

Posted by Opeth on Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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