Bernie Marsden, an English singer, songwriter and guitarist, chats with Kevin Cooper about his love for Albert King, B.B. King, and Freddie King, the truth about not joining Paul McCartney’s Wings, possibly playing with David Coverdale on Whitesnake’s farewell tour and the release of his latest album Kings.

Bernie Marsden is an English rock and blues guitarist, singer and song writer known for his work with Whitesnake, having co-written with David Coverdale many of the groups hit songs such as Fool For Your Loving and Here I Go Again.

His first professional gig was with UFO in 1972 and he next played with Glenn Cornick’s Wild Turkey in 1973. In 1975 he joined Cozy Powell’s Hammer and in 1975 he joined Babe Ruth. It was then that Cozy Powell recommended him to Jon Lord who was forming a post Deep Purple band with Ian Paice and Tony Ashton, called Paice Ashton & Lord. However, after only one album and five gigs the band folded in 1978.

Marsden then formed a new band with former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale and guitarist Micky Moody. During his time with Whitesnake he also released two solo albums. He left Whitesnake in 1982 under some controversy after releasing five studio albums.

He released Green And Blues in 1994, a tribute to Peter Green and also recorded two soundtrack CD’s. In the 2000’s Marsden produced his Big Boy Blue double album, his Big Boy Live and Bernie plays Rory; a double CD of Rory Gallagher’s material.

Marsden has played guitar with Elkie Brooks, written for Joe Bonamassa and has played with Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers. A personal highlight of his long career was playing guitar in the Ringo Starr Band.

He continues to play solo shows, mainly festivals and joining the Joe Bonamassa Blues Cruise. In 2019 he took a show on the road playing the Whitesnake album, 1980’s Ready an’ Willing in its entirety. In 2017 he released his history of rock and roll; Where’s My Guitar – An Inside Story Of British Rock And Roll. The book was up-dated and re-issued by HarperCollins in 2019.

Whilst busy preparing for the release of his latest album, Kings, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good afternoon Bernie. How are you?

I’m fine thanks Kevin. How are things with you?

All is good thank you, and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

It’s a pleasure. Thank you for wanting to speak to me.

It’s been a while since you and I last spoke, in fact it was back in 2016.

Is it really that long ago?

Yes, it was, and you were heading off to the Colne Festival.

Yes, I was, I remember now.

So, after all those years it is nice once again to finally get the chance to have a chat with you.

It is no problem at all.

I must ask, just how is life treating you in these rather strange times?

Well, what can I say; it is the same for everybody. Losing the gigs only becomes a part of the big picture when you play a gig. It is at that moment that you realise just how much you have missed it. I played the Steelhouse Festival at Aberbeeg in South Wales a couple of weeks ago now, and that was the very first gig that I had played in eighteen months now and I must be totally honest with you and say that I was very, very nervous. When I was backstage with all the guys pretty much everyone had the same vibe. We were all there keen to do it but there was also a strong feeling of trepidation when we walked out onto the stage, despite there being seven thousand people shouting because they were so glad to see you (laughter).

There were seven thousand people there, all roaring for you, and screaming at every single thing that you do, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I hope that I can deliver’ (laughter). Having not played for eighteen months, your mind tells you what to do but physically your hands are soft, compared to how they have been for the past forty-three years or however it is now (laughter). It is something that I have never thought about before; you play five gigs, you have a few days off then you play another five gigs. That is how it has been. We have all taken that for granted for all our careers. Saying that, I very much doubt that any of us will ever take it for granted again.

Let’s just hope that we are all now seeing the back end of it.

I think so, I mean we have had the test match played up there in your neck of the woods in Nottingham, and I am assuming that everyone who attended was tested and that nothing untoward came out of it. I recently heard Francis Rossi on the radio, and he was talking about his forthcoming book tour. Well, my book tour was booked in behind his for this year. However, he went on to say that he had lost about a quarter of it due to Covid at the beginning of the year, and he has just started it up once again, but he said that the audiences at the start of the run were very thin. Although the venues had sold a lot of tickets, people simply didn’t go.

That was the main reason why, when asked if I would like to postpone the tour until 2022, I have gone along with that. I took the decision to say, “nothing until next year”. I feel that people’s confidence has to be built back up, and that includes the audiences, the crew guys, the PA guys, the lighting guys, and the lady who sells the tickets whenever you phone the box office. Everyone needs to be confident enough to want to go back to work.

Don’t forget the humble photographers (laughter).

(Laughter) sorry Kevin, yes, and that also includes the humble photographers.

Swiftly moving on we must talk about your new album Kings.

Yes, we should, and let me tell you there is a lot to talk about (laughter).

I have been playing it now for the past couple of weeks and I have to say that I think that it is fantastic.

Thank you very much for saying that. I personally am very pleased with it. I think that it is an album which I could have made anytime during the past twenty-five years, but it wouldn’t have been as good as it is now. What you need to understand is the lyrical content of those tunes. If I had made this album when I was thirty, I would have been so keen on getting the guitar stuff right, then I would have sung it, and perhaps I would have sung it quite well. But I think that when you reach a certain age, and you have gone through life with your family, losing people together with the total disaster of the last eighteen months, I think that you can reinterpret those songs. I certainly know that I did, with a much better attitude together with a better understanding of just what the lyrics were all about. And I have to say that I think that it shows in the recording.

You have briefly mentioned your singing, and I have to say that I personally think that your voice is sounding better than ever.

Thanks for that. However to me, I will always be a guitarist who sings (laughter). Bryan Adams is a singer who also happens to play the guitar. I would love to be able to sing like that, but I always knew that by the time that I was eighteen years old, I couldn’t sing like the lead singer, and I must be totally honest with you and say that totally frustrated me for years. It’s all down to that range thing and having those extra few octaves. That’s another thing about when you get older; you kind of know what not to do, rather than just going out there and more or less busk it (laughter).

For this album you have re-interpreted songs from the vast catalogues of three of the greatest blues artists; B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King, and I have to ask you, why do these three artists mean so much to you?

The reason as to why I chose those three artists is because I discovered their quality after listening to the English guys who had already discovered them. As you know, I come from that generation of (Eric) Clapton, (Peter) Green, (Jeff) Beck and (Jimi) Hendrix and then I would keep hearing these great songs and I would always be looking at those small brackets on the records where it would say Willie Dixon, Johnny Burnette or Howlin’ Wolf and I would always be thinking, ‘what does that mean?’ I did manage to ask somebody when I was still young “what does that mean?” and they told me that they were the guys who had written the songs. When I was a kid, I had always thought that the guy who recorded the song was the same guy who had written the song.

Thinking about it, I suppose that was the natural thing to do (laughter). By the time that I was playing the guitar at around fourteen years old, I was banging away to my Beatles albums together with my Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers records. Fortunately for me, I had an older cousin who was in an R&B band in Liverpool, who came down to visit us. I said to him, “I can play the guitar” and I played Sweets For My Sweet for him thinking that I could impress him as a Merseybeat Man (laughter). To which his response was something along the lines of, ‘yes, okay, so what’ (laughter). The next time that I saw him, which was some three months later, he said to me “if you can learn that stuff, learn this” and he gave me three EP’s by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson.

So, as you can see, I was bloodied into it. But I had already been aware of Eric Clapton, The Yardbirds, and Jeff Beck before that. I then started reading articles where the name B.B. King would keep cropping up, Freddie King kept cropping up, and then to a lesser extent, Albert King. Then, back in 1968, I actually got to see Freddie King, and that, for me, simply confirmed everything. He was just fantastic; such a larger-than-life figure and such a truly great performer. Having said all of that, the three of them were all so very different from one another; they all had their own thing. In a way, the three of them all being called King really is a bit of a misnomer, in a way. Mr Brown, Mr Pink, and Mr White would have been better (laughter). It simply doesn’t matter.

I got into Albert much later when people kept on saying to me, “well, you really should listen to this other guy” and I thought, ‘oh no, not another bloody King’ (laughter). At that time, I was a big fan of Otis Rush, and because both he and Albert both played the guitar left handed, I had always thought that Albert did quite sound like Otis. However, at that time I hadn’t realised that they were both playing upside down guitars (laughter) and that is where that unique sound comes from because to the rest of us, they are both pulling the strings the wrong way. So, I feel that it was a combination of my commitment to learn, seeing B.B. King soon after he first came over to the UK, buying his 1965 Live At The Regal album, together with his 1966 album, Blues Is King, which very soon became my go to album. Every day when I got home from school, I would play that album.

With your obvious love for the three of them, just how hard was it for you to pick the tracks which eventually found their way onto the album?

To be honest with you, choosing the songs was easy simply because I wanted to do the stuff that really knocked me out at the time. I have absolutely no qualms about recording Key To The Highway, because it has such a cool lyric, and it is a lyric driven song. Having said that, I feel that if I have injected enough of my own thing into it then people will realise that it is me playing.

Is there anything that missed out on being on the album that you now wish was on there?

Oh yes, just where do I start (laughter). What can I say, don’t discount there being a Volume Two at some stage in the future. I have always liked to hear Albert King’s I Get Evil and then I found out that it wasn’t called I Get Evil, it was actually called Don’t You Lie To Me and was written by Tampa Red, whose real name was actually Hudson Whittaker, way back in 1940. I only found that out when we made this record, so it is true, you do learn something new every day. But back to your original question, yes, I could record a Volume Two quite easily.

I currently have three go to tracks and funnily enough they are one from each of them.

That’s cool, in fact that is really cool.

They are Don’t You Lie To Me (Albert King), Help The Poor (B.B. King) and You’ve Got To Love Her With A Feeling (Freddie King). I personally feel that they are three fantastic tracks.

That’s great that you have chosen a track by each of them and, what you must remember is that they are all fairly obscure. For example, Help The Poor is a studio album track that was recorded back in 1961, and it is a track that I have loved for simply ages.

I first heard the Albert King track Don’t You Lie To Me many years ago now on the 1000 Volts Of Stax compilation album.

That’s right; in fact some of Albert’s greatest stuff is on the Stax label. It is such a fun song.

I also have to say that I really do love your two instrumental tracks on the album: Runaway and Uptown Train.

Do you really, well thank you for saying that. It is me tipping my hat to Freddie really, and to a lesser extent Albert as B.B. didn’t really do instrumentals. Runaway is an obvious track. I have stolen everything for that track really (laughter), hopefully in a positive way. If you are going to steal anything then steal from the best (laughter).

I thought that I heard a little bit of Jimmy’s (Hendrix) Purple Haze in there?

(Laughter) maybe there is a little bit knocking about somewhere (laughter).

I personally feel that the two instrumentals simply have the Blues oozing out of them.

I have to say that I totally agree with you. Having a good section of three guys who are really into what it is that you are doing, understanding the originals, understanding exactly where you are coming from, for me, it really was a joy to be in the studio with those guys. In fact, we recorded the Chess album first and that went so well that I booked the studio for the following weekend, and that was when we recorded Kings. So, I must say that things are really the wrong way round (laughter). The label was desperate for us to get the Kings album out first; they thought that it was more suitable as the first release. However, for me it was 50/50 (laughter).

Having said that, I think that you will really enjoy the Chess album. There are two featured instruments on there; I have got Alan Glenn playing harmonica on it so you have got two lead instruments on there. I personally feel quite close to the Chess album because I can listen to someone else soloing which is nice.

Putting you on the spot, do you have a favourite track on the album?

I would have to say that Woman Across The River is quite a favourite because it was just so difficult for me to play. If people think that playing the Blues is easy; well if only (laughter). It has got all of those tiny little rhythm changes, plus the lyrics are great; ‘she won’t talk to me ‘cause I don’t love you anymore, the woman across the river, she was mine but she ain’t anymore’ (laughter). A lot of people have said that they wish that the track was longer because it is only two and a half minutes long. There is a great version which Freddie King did live on The Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1970s. It is so good; it has played in my head for many years now. I have always told myself that one day I was going to record that song. All those Leon Russell produced Freddie King albums; every single one is an absolute killer.

How long did it take you to put it all together?

To be totally honest with you, it seems like a long time because of the lockdown during Covid. In fact, I recorded the backing tracks at the end of 2019. I got everything in the can then I started doing a few vocal overdubs. In fact I did redo some of the vocals, simply because I wanted to keep it as live as possible. However, you can’t sing live and play the guitar live because of spill in the studio. I did go back and give some solid thought as to the way that I had approached the vocals. If there are two guitars, obviously, then one of them will be an overdub but all the lead guitar stuff is live. It was a dead easy process because the rhythm guys were so good. Obviously if there is a Hammond organ and a piano, one of them will be an overdub especially as he has only got two arms (laughter). It was all done very quickly, and the vibe was simply fantastic. We were all reliving our youth really but playing it much better (laughter).

You have mentioned cancelling all your engagements until 2022. Will we be seeing you touring the album in 2022, everything permitting?

I really do hope so because the reaction to the album has been very good, in fact it got to number one in the Blues charts. However, more importantly, it was at number twelve last week in the actual British sales charts. So, what I am presuming will happen, once the promoters get their confidence back, they will be ringing up my agent for me to play Blues Festivals, and stuff. However, I won’t go back out on the road playing the Blues clubs; I am now past that stage really. Having said that, I don’t see any reason as to why I shouldn’t take this line-up and Kings out on the road plus the Chess album will be released in November, which will give me further opportunities to play the Blues Festivals, either as a special guest or maybe as a headliner if people want me to do it, with really cool material. There is always going to be a Whitesnake song, or two, thrown in there (laughter).

Its funny you should mention Whitesnake because a certain Mr (David) Coverdale has recently mentioned that the next tour will be his last.

About time (laughter).

I was going to ask if there is any chance of seeing you at a show or two?

I don’t know, I really don’t know (laughter). If it’s the farewell tour, you know, then why don’t we just sit back and see how long it lasts. Don’t forget that Status Quo did a farewell tour many years ago and look at them now. I heard Francis (Rossi) on the radio saying that their latest tour starts again in April (laughter). I think that David’s days of singing songs like Shut Up And Kiss Me hopefully are over. I would like to hear David record a Kings type of album, because I feel that his voice in that range is still as good as anybody’s. But in answer to your question, I simply do not know. I would have loved to have made the Kings album with him. I think that would have been an interesting concept, with him singing because, as you know, David likes to be numero uno in everything that he does.

That’s alright, that’s the way that he is; I just tootle along and do my thing as they say. I have got onstage and played with David umpteen times over the last ten years now, so, if it really is a farewell tour and he wants me to join him on a gig or two, I feel that I would owe that to the fans if nothing else. Thank goodness for Here I Go Again, which is the main reason why he can be doing a farewell tour in 2022. Without that song where would they be (laughter).

I know that you have intimated that you won’t be playing any Blues clubs. However, I will be keeping my eyes open for you at the Robin 2 in Bilston, just in case.

Now The Robin is a proper club; what I am talking about is back rooms of pubs. If they wanted to do a night of rhythm and blues at The Robin, then I’m your man. I love playing there, you know that. In fact, thinking about it, I haven’t played there for a long time now so it would be nice to get back there and who knows who I might bring with me on the night. You never know do you. If you are down there Kevin, please tell them to hire me (laughter).

I must ask, why has it taken you seven years to release the album?

To be totally honest with you, I have been releasing stuff in-between myself, for example there is the Rory Gallagher stuff. In fact I have released two Rory Gallagher albums. Plus, there have been a few compilations of some new stuff, and because really after Shine I was so pleased to have recorded and released that album, Shine took fifteen years looking at the one before that so this one is quite quick really (laughter). It’s just one of those things where if you look back seven years I was just getting into my sixties, and I was thinking, ‘well just how long can this go on for’ and ‘does anyone really still want to do it’ (laughter).However, suddenly out of the blue, this label came in from Holland saying, “we want you”. The greatest thing that they did was to say when I asked them what kind of album they wanted me to make, they replied, “we want a Bernie Marsden album” which I thought was brilliant.

Also, in that interim period I have been writing a lot with Joe (Bonamassa, in fact I pretty much wrote all of his last record. So, as you can see, I have been doing a lot of stuff in between. Putting out a record has never been a high priority because I have been writing the books and I have been busy. For me, it is also nice to know that my fan base is out there anyway, who waited all that time for Shine and who are now going to get the Kings album plus the Chess album in three months and most probably another one straight after Christmas (laugher). It’s fantastic; my fans are very honest, they soon tell me if they don’t like what it is that I am doing, and I have to say that I feel that is a good thing.

You recently wrote and published Where’s My Guitar? An Inside Story of British Rock and Roll. Was that something that you wanted to do or something that you felt you needed to do?

If I am totally honest with you, I think that it was down to a bit of both really. I needed to do it because when I first did it via crowd funding it was because I had two small children, and at that time I was still travelling all around the world a lot at the time, and with the best will in the world you never know when the proverbial bus will come along, and I wanted them to know what their dad did. So, I started to write it down, and I started to become pretty good (laughter). I had written two thirds of it in rough form, and I sent it to a very good friend of mine, a guy called Harry Shapiro, who I have to say is a very good writer.

I said to him, “Harry I am writing this, do you think that I am wasting my time, is it just like a family journal” and Harry being Harry who is a bit of a cynic, I didn’t think that he would look at it for three weeks, but a couple of days later Harry said to me, “this is terrific”. He said, “you got me from the first five or ten pages”. Harry, bless him, gave me some constructive criticism saying, “if you are going to do it then do it like this”. I spent a lot of time worrying about the layout but of course, publishers do all of that, but at the time I didn’t know that (laughter). Anyway, to cut a long story short, HarperCollins came in offering me a contract basically for them to re-edit the book and to put it back together in what I would call a professional form, and I have to say that it turned out really well.

The first edition, the crowd funded one, did really well, so when it came out again in the first version of HarperCollins 4th Estate, I was really surprised at just how well it did. What I had with HarperCollins was their backup, together with their promotional skills and expertise. That’s why Kings has done so well, because I now have a record company group involved in that one. So, what goes around comes around really.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of you joining UFO. Have you enjoyed the ride so far?

I must be honest with you and say that it has been fantastic. The good thing is that the rollercoaster is still going (laughter). Covid cannot knock us off; it has done its best and we have obviously lost people, good friends, not just musicians, but promoters, lighting guys, the PA guys, guys who don’t think of themselves as being relatively important, but they are really important to people like me. Without them, you couldn’t hear me play. It has been tough, but it has been tough for everybody, all-over the world and it is still bad for a lot of people so let’s hope that we are coming out of it. Like I said earlier, if attendances are okay, then who knows.

I sold out three nights in London at Under The Bridge; all of them sold out in advance but they won’t take a date at the moment for next year because they simply are not sure. That gives you a small insight into the problems that are being faced by the promoters. That is why it is important for all of us to keep wearing the masks whenever we are out in public; Covid is still out there. Let’s all try to be careful and try to be sensible when dealing with all of this. We are still in the middle of a very strange situation, and hopefully we will all come out of it, into the New Year. What I am going to do is see a few of my mates and see if we can get out playing a few gigs for the rest of the year; people like King King. I will find out where they are playing, I will rock up with the guitar and demand to sit in (laughter).

I’m so pleased that you have mentioned King King as, in my opinion; they are the best band around at this moment in time.

I totally agree with you, they really are very good. What’s also great about them is that they are a good group of lads. I have to say that, in my opinion, Alan (Nimmo) is a great singer and a tremendous front man. I forgot to say that he’s not a bad guitar player either (laughter).

You have mentioned how we have lost friends and colleagues during the Covid pandemic; I must ask you, just how good was the late Dusty Hill (ZZ Top)?

Well firstly let me say that Dusty was a charming man. I first met Dusty over in Switzerland when I also met Billy (Gibbons) for the very first time. Billy and I have remained close friends, whereas Dusty always made the point of keeping himself to himself. Billy asked me if I would like to meet Dusty and obviously, I said yes and I have to say that he was fantastic. I dread to think who will be stepping in. People talk about big shoes to fill, but they simply do not come bigger than Dusty Hill. There are some great bass players out there; don’t get me wrong, but you also have to consider the synchronicity between Dusty and Billy, which has now gone forever.

It is very sad; I haven’t dropped a line to Billy yet because I am sure that he is dealing with it by being on the road. Having said that, I will be sending him a personal message. What you must remember is that those guys went back to when they were 18 years old. Billy was a master craftsman, and a very good singer. I just hope that people are not jumping out onto the road too quick. We are all of a certain age, and with the best will in the world, your head will say, “yes, that’s fine, let’s go” but actually getting back out there, as I have said earlier, when we played Steelhouse I found the whole experience to be very anxious.

I could feel the warmth, but I was still taking extremely deep breaths before I set foot on to the stage. The rest of the band were looking at me saying, “well if he’s going to be worried then I’m going to be worried” (laughter). I wasn’t worried because I had faith in the gig, but anyway it was a triumph.

You will most probably tell me to read the book, but I am going to ask you. Before David Coverdale rang you inviting you to join him in forming Whitesnake, is it true that you could have been a member of Paul McCartney’s Wings?

(Laughter) the story is whilst I was between Paice, Aston & Lord and Whitesnake, I had a call from a guy who was playing with Paice, Aston & Lord, whose name was Howie Casey, who is a very good friend of mine to this day, and Howie was the horn player on all the Wings stuff. Jimmy McCulloch, who played the bass and guitar in Wings was also a very good friend of mine from way back, and he left Wings and while we were in Munich Howie took me to one side and said, “I have just been talking to the office” meaning the McCartney office “and Paul (McCartney) is looking for a guitarist and I have put you up for it”’. I said “great” because by that time, Aston, Paice & Lord had finished.

So, when I got back to London, I called the McCartney office, and I went to have a meeting with Paul’s manager. In the end I had two meetings with them, and it was arranged that we were going to get together and have a jam session basically; it was never going to be an audition scenario. Apparently, Paul had had a few problems, and he didn’t want to go through the audition sequence of over a hundred guitar players showing up, which I completely understood. A week went by, and his manager said “give me a call next week as Paul is in America”. Obviously there were no mobile phones in those days, so I phoned again, and he said “oh he’s still not back”.

Three weeks went by, and Paul still wasn’t back, and by that time I wasn’t earning any money whatsoever because Paice, Ashton & Lord had finished. I took myself off to The Rainbow Theatre to see Frankie Miller, and while I was at The Rainbow I literally bumped into Coverdale. Before that we had only met once. David had been over to the Musicland Studios in Munich to see Jon (Lord) and Ian (Paice) and we had met there. David was managed out of the same office that I was and the first thing that he said to me was, “I understand that you are going with McCartney” to which I said, “no, possibly, but I haven’t heard anything”.

I then said to him, “what are you doing here, I thought that you lived in Germany” to which he replied, “No, I’ve moved back to London, in order to put a band together, and I would like you to be in the band, but I can’t match McCartney’s offer”. I then said to him, “yes you can, there is no offer” which at that time was perfectly true (laughter). So, the very next day, I went over to John Henrys rehearsal-studios in London, where Coverdale was auditioning drummers and bass players. And because of my connection with Cozy (Powell), Simon (Phillips) and Ian (Paice) he said, “why don’t you come down and give me your opinion on these drummers”.

When I arrived, I saw that Mickey Moody was there, who at that time was playing with Frankie Miller. He was giggling, and shouted to me, “bring your guitar” (laughter). During those auditions, Coverdale wasn’t there; Mickey and I had found a not-so-great bass player and drummer and we were just jamming. We had absolutely no idea that Coverdale was standing at the back of the room. He took me to one side and said, “I had no idea that you could play like this, that Aston, Paice & Lord album is like a Steely Dan record” to which I replied, “I know, I’m on it” (laughter). Coverdale then said, “you are an out and out rocker; you and Moody together, man’.

He then asked me, “what about McCartney”’ to which I replied, “there is no offer”. So, we had another go at things the following day with a different drummer and bass player, who were a bit better, and Coverdale was singing by then. It was plainly obvious that the three of us were getting along really well. I knew Mickey from before, not well, but we knew each other as guitar players, and we sat down in a pub up the road from this grotty old rehearsal studio, and once again they asked me, “what are you going to do about McCartney” to which I replied, “are we going to put a band together” to which there was a resounding, “yes” from all parties.

I looked at them and said, “in that case I will ring the office and tell them that I am not available”. So that is what I had to do. I then had to ring the McCartney office to say, “thank you for considering me, however, I am sorry to say thank you very much, but I am forming a band with the guy from Deep Purple”. What deterred me as well as my then girlfriend who is now my wife, over that Christmas period, we were watching the Christmas Top Of The Pops, and number one was Mull Of Kintyre. I was looking at it and I must have had that blank look on my face, and my girlfriend who was standing in the doorway looked at me and said, “you are not going to do that, are you?” to which I replied, “I don’t think so” (laughter).

So, that is what happened. I had to ring McCartney’s office and say, “thanks but no thanks”. I then found myself being accused of turning down McCartney, but as I explained, ‘I’m not turning him down, I’m turning down the opportunity to turn him down or to get turned down’ (laughter). And apparently, McCartney wasn’t very happy. I have subsequently found out stuff, and I did actually run into him once, and he did say something to me; something along the lines of, ‘ah here’s the man that turned me down’ (laughter). I have to tell you that I was most embarrassed, but what do you do, you want to be in a rock and roll band, and Mull Of Kintyre was not rock and roll.

The dilemma for someone from my generation was having to choose; having the chance to play with Paul McCartney. I really like Wings as well; I thought that they were very good (laughter). Anyway, that’s the story. You can take it from me, that is how it happened. I didn’t turn it down, because I was never offered the position, but I might have been and who knows just what might have been. I do know one thing; I would never have written Here I Go Again if I had been with Paul McCartney (laughter).

What was the first record that you bought?

The first record that I bought would either have been That’ll Be The Day by Buddy Holly, or something by The Yardbirds.

Who did you first see performing live?

Don’t laugh at this but I saw Screaming Lord Sutch when I was about twelve years old, with Richie Blackmore on guitar. I used to creep into the local Town Hall and hide because I was far too young to legally go in. I also saw Joe Brown when I was a kid.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

There was recently a documentary on the TV about Sunderland Football Club, and the theme music was called Shipyards performed by The Lake Poets. That piece makes me cry every time that I hear it. If you hear it, I guarantee that it will reduce you to tears. It reminded me so much of my father.

On that note Bernie, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been wonderful as usual.

Not a problem Kevin, you take care and I hope to see you in Bilston. Bye for now.