Veteran rock bassist opens about the influence of Queen’s John Deacon, thoughts for young musicians, gear and more
Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
May 22, 2017
By David Sands
Neil Murray has the kind of rock and roll résumé that ought to make your jaw drop, having played bass with the likes of Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and the Brian May Band, as well as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Sting.
Raised by a music-loving family in Edinburgh, Scotland, he started off studying piano at the age of eight and later picked up the trombone and drums. During his teenage years, Murray served as a drummer in several rock/blues bands before adopting the bass as his instrument of choice at seventeen.
In the early 1970s, despite having studied graphic design at the London College of Printing, he found himself pulled towards a career in music. Murray’s professional bass beginnings were rather eclectic, incorporating work with the jazz-fusion band Gilgamesh, Jamaican-born guitarist Junior Hanson (who’d go on to join Bob Marley and The Wailers), jazz-rock band Colosseum II, rock drummer Cozy Powell, and prog-rock ensemble National Health.
In 1978, the bassist became a founding member of Whitesnake, a band he’d stick with until 1986, excluding a brief sojourn with Gary Moore in the early ’80s. He followed that up with several years as Black Sabbath’s bassist, as well as later work with the Brian May Band, Peter Green Splinter Group, The Company of Snakes and classic Whitesnake tribute band M3.
More recently, Murray spent more than a decade working with We Will Rock You, a musical based around the music of Queen. Over the years, he’s also gigged, recorded and jammed with musicians like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Bill Bruford, Joe Walsh, Paul Rodgers, Phil Collins, Roger Daltrey and Alan Holdsworth. Murray currently plays in the band Snakecharmer and teaches young musicians at the Academy of Contemporary Music near London.
FBPO‘s Jon Liebman recently got a chance to catch up with Neil at the World Headquarters of Warwick and Framus in Markneukirchen, Germany.
Watch our interview with Neil: