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R.I.P. Bernie Marsden, founding Whitesnake guitarist

Marsden played with the band in the late '70s and early '80s, and co-wrote hits like "Here I Go Again" and "Fool For Your Loving"

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Bernie Marsden
Bernie Marsden
Photo: Joby Sessions/Future Publishing (Getty Images)

Bernie Marsden—English guitarist and founding member of the band Whitesnake—has died. The news comes via Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale, who posted a tribute to his former songwriting partner on X. “I’ve just woken up to the awful news that my old friend & former Snake Bernie Marsden has passed,” he wrote. “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.” Marsden was 72, per Deadline.

Marsden grew up in Birmingham, England and spent the first few years of his career bouncing between a number of bands including UFO, Wild Turkey, Cozy Powell’s Hammer, and Babe Ruth.


In late 1977, Marsden auditioned for and helped found the band Whitesnake—initially called David Coverdale’s Whitesnake—with Coverdale, formerly of Deep Purple, and guitarist Micky Moody. “There was an instant rapport between us,” Marsden said of his relationship with Coverdale in a 2020 interview with Louder Sound. “He was like a surrogate brother to me.”

Individually or with Coverdale (and occasionally Moody), Marsden wrote many of the group’s recognizable tracks, including “Fool For Your Loving,” “Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues,” “She’s A Woman,” “Lovehunter,” “Trouble,” “Child of Babylon,” “Rough and Ready,” and the iconic power ballad “Here I Go Again,” which has received numerous “best song” list nods from outlets like Q Magazine, VH1, and Rolling Stone.


It took maybe two hours,” Marsden said of writing the song in the same Louder Sound interview. “It was the opening sequence that grabbed me, the three opening chords. I had the melody in my head, and when I played it to Jon Lord he had a certain look in his eye. He made me play it again and then said: “You’re a clever little sod, aren’t you? That’s the hook. I’ll do the intro.”

In total, Marsden played on one EP, five albums, and one live album for the band, before leaving to pursue a number of solo projects shortly after the release of 1982's Saints And Sinners. He also released an autobiography called Where’s My Guitar in 2017.