British Blues-Rock Legend and Whitesnake Founding Guitarist Bernie Marsden Dead at 72

Bernie Marsden, guitarist with heavy rock band Whitesnake, playing the guitar on the set of a video shoot at Shepperton Studios, outside London, England, Great Britain, in 1978.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bernie Marsden, solo artist and founding guitarist of British hard-rock group Whitesnake, has passed away aged 72.

The sad news was confirmed earlier today with a statement from the guitarist’s family that read:

“On behalf of his family, it is with deep sadness we announce the death of Bernie Marsden. Bernie died peacefully on Thursday evening [August 24, 2023] 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.”

A prolific solo artist and collaborator, Bernie found fame as a guitarist following his UFO and Paice Ashton Lord tenures with legendary British hard-rock group Whitesnake – the band he co-founded in the late ‘70s with fellow guitarist Micky Moody and ex-Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale.

Also featuring bass player Neil Murray, drummer Dave Dowle, and keyboardist Jon Lord, the band released their debut album, Trouble, in 1978 with Bernie having co-written several tracks on the LP. 

But it would be his writing contributions to Whitesnake’s number one Billboard hit “Here I Go Again” that he is best known for. Indeed, he even had a column in our U.K. sibling magazine Guitarist called Here I Go Again.

“So sad to learn this,” wrote Guitarist editor-in-chief Jamie Dickson. “Bernie was a real friend to Guitarist mag and always so generous with his time, his memories and his music. Was only talking with him the other day and he was as affable and down to Earth as ever. He’ll be very much missed. God bless, Bernie and rest you well.”

Meanwhile, tributes poured in from across the guitar world.

“Peace be with you all at this time. Such a sweet guy. He will be missed by so many,” echoed Brian Ray. “RIP Bernie, thanks for all the chats and advice,” said Marshall’s Steve Smith. “Rest in peace, Bernie. We were lucky to have known you,” wrote Gibson.

Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.