Back to his musical roots for Bernie

The wheel will have come full circle when Buckingham-born rock musician Bernie Marsden plays a trio of Personal Odyssey concerts at the Radcliffe Centre next month.

Not only will Mr Marsden be drawing on his back catalogue, all the way back to his earliest days playing with The Originals at Buckingham’s King’s Head, but the venue is just a stone’s throw from his early childhood home on Bristle Hill.

He said:“That’s why the Radcliffe Centre is so poignant for me.”

Together with his band, Mr Marsden has agreed to play the three concerts, on September 12, 13 and 14, in aid of the Roka School Project in Kenya and the Friends of the University of Buckingham.

Mr Marsden, who now lives in Tingewick, achieved fame as guitarist with Whitesnake, making six albums, three of them number ones.

But as he told the Advertiser: “The link between doing a sell-out show at Buckingham Town Hall and playing in Maddison Square Gardens is only about three and a half years.

“It’s quite meteoric, the building of your reputation.”

This is the 40th year as a professional musician for 62-year-old Mr Marsden.

The former Well Street School and Buckingham Secondary Modern School pupil, has been working on a new solo album in the famous Abbey Road studios, filming a TV blues documentary in Mississipi, featuring his friend Morgan Freeman, and working on his memoir, due out next year.

But he hopes to see people from the old days at the Radcliffe Centre gigs.

He said: “It would be nice to see as many people from the Kings Head days as from The Stables.”

There will be music from every phase of Bernie Marsden’s muscial career, which began as a youngster, sneaking in to the Town Hall to hide in the lighting box and watch bands and hanging out with musicians in the Barons Grill coffee bar.

“The food was awful, the tea was awful but the people were great,” he said.

By the age of 14, the self-taught guitarist was playing with The Originals at the King’s Head, with Keith Venables and the late Les Castle, before being poached by rival band the Daystroms.

“They were ther first band I really went on the road with. Of course it was all exciting. I was only 14 and a half or 15 and I was getting paid for it. They used to give me a 10-bob note.”

School was not a happy experience for young Bernie.

Just one young teacher encouraged him in his musical ambitions.

“She filled me with this confidence. She said: ‘Forget all this school stuff – there’s only one way for you and that’s playing the guitar.”

Fellow musicians were also supportive.

Mr Marsden said: “Les Castle particularly was very influential. He used to say: ‘God my boy, you can make that thing talk.’

“Nipper Rogers from Winslow was guitarist in the Originals and he was probably the first electric guitar player I’d studied and he was probably as big an influence on me as anybody.

“Only last year he and I got to play at Les Castle’s daughter’s wedding in Hampshire. We got together as many of the Originals as we could to play in memory of her father.”

After gaining a following with Skinny Cat, Bernie Marsden turned professional in 1972, at the age of 21, with a group called U.F.O.

“That’s the big turning point,” he said. “I went from playing big shows of maybe 150 people to maybe 850 people. But that was in Paris or Rome rather than Banbury or Steeple Claydon.”

Tickets for A Personal Odyssey are £16.50 in advance from the University Bookshop on Hunter Street, At Home on Well Street or call 01280 847444 or 07900 458013.