NEIL MURRAY

INTERVIEW Ė LONDON

David Coverdale once said to Kerrang ĄNeil Murrayís bass playing is the most melodic bass playing Iíve heard since Mc Cartney. Heís a staggering bass player".

One of the most in-demand bass player in the UK during the 70Ďs and 80Ďs, Neil is not very well known in the US although he played on one of the best selling hard rock album of all time, Whitesnake 1987.

Mainly known for his work with Whitesnake (1978-1982, 1984-1987), Neil also has been a member of the Gary Moore Band, Black Sabbath and Brian May Band. A well rounded musician, he also played, toured or recorded with most of the worldís most famous names like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Sting, Paul Rodgers, Ian Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Vai, Bill Bruford (Yes), Colosseum II, Chris Thompson (Manfred Mannís Earth Band), soul/jazz diva Madeline Bell, Glenn Hughes, The Scorpions, Simon Phillips, Joe Satriani and many many others.

We had the chance to meet up with Neil in Notting Hill, London, on 3 June 2000. As interesting interviews about his stints with Whitesnake can be found at http://www.companyofsnakes.de or http://www.whitesnake.f9.co.uk, we took this opportunity to talk a little more about some of his other works. For those who are interested to know more about this superb bass player and great gentleman, please check out Miguel Terolís site at http://geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/9932/nmurr_b.htm.

Neil, first of all thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me. Letís talk about your current gigs/projects. You are featured on Micky Moodyís first solo album ĄI Eat Them For Breakfast". It sounds like a family affair as Bernie Marsden produced it. Can you tell a bit more about it ?

The album was quickly and cheaply recorded with not much recording time. It features most of the guys from Company of Snakes (Note : CoSĎ members are Robert Hart on vocals, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody on guitars, Neil on bass, Don Airey on keyboards and John Lingwood on drums), well actually all of them in different formations. On the more straight blues songs, Micky used people like Andy Pyle on bass and Henry Spinetti on drums. I suppose that some songs are songs Micky had for quite some time. There is one long song that we spliced together to make a real song and thatís quite a fun thing to do on stage. There are some good stuff on it but it may take some time for people to even be aware that thereís an album out.

Company of Snakes used to be called The Snakes (they have two albums out with Jorn Lande on vocals). Is there any recording plans as far as the Ąnew" line-up is concerned ?

There is a small German label whoís made us an offer to do two albums, one which should be a live album which, if everything goes well, we should be recording in August at the Wacken festival in Germany. Plan is to do a studio album where we might re-record some of the tracks from The Snakes album (Note : Once Bitten) and, hopefully, do some new things as well. So that will be good. The band should be quite busy in the autumn. I think, there are proper structured touring plans and possibly going to the States for three weeks or something. For the moment, and all last year, it was just whatever comes in. We worked for a few days and then we stopped then we did a bit more. We try to get it a bit more organised now.

Any chance to see David Coverdale joining you..... ?

(Laughs). I think thatís very unlikely. Heís just about to put out a new album and I think itís under the name Whitesnake. Iíve heard most of it. Certainly, itís a more bluesy direction but I still donít think itís kind of quite the same as it was with the old line-up.

Coverdale hired Marco Mendoza from John SykesĎ band. You could play musical chairs and work with Sykes again (laughs)...

Well, I donít know if Marcoís in the band. You know, heís a very good bass player. I think it was just like a session for him. There was a chance of me working with John again a few years ago but then, really, itís not very sensible when Iím in Britain and heís in the States. You kind of have to go and live there. It didnít come to anything in the end.

It might have changed your career if you would have moved to the US back in í85 and stayed there....

Yeah... yeah... well, I mean, I was living in LA during í85 for quite some time and I think, if I had been able to stay there for the next few years then maybe that would have worked out.

It doesnít bother me now, IĎm quite happy to be here really.

Another of your current gigs is with the SAS Band . The group is not very well known, can you tell us a bit more about it ?

It is supposed to be more of a fun type band. It was originally started by Spike Edney, who was the keyboards player with Queen and many other bands. When we toured with Brian May in 1993, with myself, Cozy Powell and guitarist Jamie Moses, that was the basis of the SAS Band which started the following year. There has been many many musicians also, different bassists, guitarists, drummers but the main thing is to have some really good singers that do two or three of their hits and then some other songs that they always wanted to do. It thus gives them the chance and the audience can see quite a big range of music, you know, rock, soul, pop, whatever and the whole idea is to have a really good laugh and not to be too serious. Itís the kind of thing where sometimes there are lots of those SAS Band gigs, and they have done an album as well (Note : the album is self-titled and was released in 1997. It features, amongst others, Neil, Chris Thompson, Elton Johnís Charlie Morgan, Familyís Roger Chapman, Cozy Powell, Queenís Roger Taylor and John Deacon, soul diva Madeline Bell, Marillionís John Marter), and other times thereís months with nothing so it comes and goes but weíve done some very enjoyable shows.

With SAS you had the chance to play with people like Paul Rodgers, Jimmy Barnes, Chris Thompson (Note : The album features Neil on one song with Chris, Jamie Moses, Spike Edney and Cozy Powell) or Steve Lukather. How is it to work with a guy like Steve Lukather for instance ?

Well, I did not play with Steve when the SAS played with Toto somewhere, I think in Germany, because when Iím busy touring with another band (like a couple of years ago I was with Black Sabbath again) I canít do the SAS gigs for quite some time. Well itís things like that where they do a concert and if some famous musicians want to get up and play they probably can but itís not really a jamming kind of thing, itís probably rehearsed. Itís quite well structured but thereís not a show where the SAS Band does exactly the same as another show because thereís always different singers or different songs (Note : Neil kindly invited me to attend a gig SAS Band played for Microsoft and the singers were Manfred Mann Earth Bandís Chris Thompson, Mike & The MechanicsĎ Paul Young, The Fabba Girls Ė Zoe Nicholas and Susie Webb (backing singers on the last Brian May Tour amongst many others credits), and soul diva Madeline Bell).

Talking about Black Sabbath, I think you worked or rehearsed or did some demos with Ozzy Osbourne ?

I played for maybe two days with Ozzy just to kind of help out. He was trying a drummer, I am trying to remember who he played with later on, but his name was Jimmy DeGrasso (Note : Jimmyís current Megadeth drummer and he played with Y&T, Dave Meniketti, White Lion, Mamaís Boys, Suicidal Tendencies and Lita Ford) and this was around the time Jake E Lee was in the band. You know, I always forget about things like that because it was such a short period of time. It must have been in early í85 because I then got a call from David Coverdale and John Sykes who were writing songs in the south of France and they wanted me to come out and rehearse some of these songs.

You also worked with The Scorpions, were you supposed to join them ?

No, I was not meant to join them. Again, I was just helping out. It was demos for ĄLove At First Sting" and they eventually did their album with Jimmy Bain and Bobby Rondinelli on drums. Iím told they scatched all that and used the ScorpionsĎ rhythm section but who knows ? That was fun, but again, two or three days rehearsing and a couple of days recording these demo tracks. I actually saw them a couple of weeks ago because they were doing some recording in London for that orchestra album that theyíre doing with the two girls singing with the SAS Band (Note : Susie Webb and Zoe Nicholas. Check out their web site at http://www.fabbagirls.demon.co.uk).

One of your careerís highlights was when you played with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Sting and Simon Phillips. When was it and what was that for ?

This was a charity gig for Amnesty International. They had a charity concert, I think probably in 1979 or 1980, called the Secret Policemanís Ball, which was quite successful, and they decided to do another called The Secret Policemanís Other Ball. You had four nights where quite famous British comedians, actors, musicians gathered together. It was one of the first kind of charity concerts which became a very popular thing to do through the ā80Ďs. At that time, Jeff Beckís bass player was Mo Foster and he was supposed to do it and it just happened that I had done some sessions with Simon Phillips on Bernie Marsdenís and Jon Lordís solo albums, so when Mo Foster couldnít play the first two nights of this four nights, they asked me to do that. Involved in the show was going to be a situation where Sting and myself played together, just the two of us with him on guitar and me on bass, we did that the first night but he decided to do it by himself after that ....but maybe I was not so good (smile)... and there were three songs with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck playing together and then the big finale with everybody on, so I did those two nights and they recorded them. The last two nights (actually after the second night Eric Clapton got very drunk and his wife banned him from playing on the third night, or maybe he was too hungover), so Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton did not play together on the third night but they did on the last night and I went along and did a bit of background for the finale. On the album of the show, they just list everybody whoís in the band, all the musicians, so you donít know who played on each track but thereís a version of ĄCrossroads" that I played on. For the film of the gigs, they mostly used only stuff from the last night. I certainly keep that as a very good memory. I did some other work with Jeff Beck as well, but just rehearsing.

Talking about guitar heroes, you also played with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Brian May in Sevilla (Spain) in 1992. How did you end up getting this gig, which more or less was the birth of the Brian May Band ? Did you get it through your involvement with Black Sabbath ?

Yes, mostly because Brian was big friends with Toni Iommi and he really liked the sound of that version of the band. Brian had been asked to put together kind of a heavy rock evening and he got the chance to specify two different rhythm sections (Note : Neil Murray with Cozy Powell and Nathan East with Steve Ferrone). He was not really sure who was gonna play with who. In rehearsals, because Nathan East didnít arrive until maybe the last day of rehearsals, I ended up having to play with virtually everybody but didnít do so much on the show. I really enjoyed playing with Joe Satriani. I also did stuff with Nuno (Bettencourt) and Gary (Cherone) from Extreme... we did a couple of songs together. You know you always think something like that may lead on to something else but it did not...

Mainly because they all live in the US and youíre based in the UK ?

I suppose yes. In reality, it continued down a year later to the Brian May Band actually being formed and we did some recording for the ĄBack To The Light" album (Note : Neil is featured on three songs).

Many people know you as a hard rock / heavy rock bass player but you started playing in jazz-rock bands like Gilgamesh in the early days but the most famous one is probably Colosseum II with Jon Hiseman, Gary Moore and Don Airey.... ?

I did not start out to be a jazz-rock bass player. I definitely came out of the blues period in the late 60Ďs and then heavy rock followed with bands like Cream, Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge and all that kind of stuff... Jeff Beck definitely... you know lots of musicians were going that way like Jeff Beck went towards jazz rock, so it was just a natural thing for any musicians around that time to be into the Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return To Forever and it was pure chance that I met somebody and ended up joining Gilgamesh and playing this very complicated music. Then I left that to do kind of straight Hendrix songs with a band called Hanson just for a few months (Note : it was in 1974). After that I joined... well I did not really join I had taken over as the bass player for Cozy PowellĎs band, mostly doing very straight ahead rock, with very good musicians, particularly Don Airey, who was the keyboards player with that band, and thatĎs kind of my connection to Colosseum II because Don joined that band.... itís through knowing him that I got the job with the band.

Colosseum II was kind of anti-commercial, really, and a bit difficult for most people. I did even more difficult music with National Health, doing very complicated time signature, lots of written music and really having not very much success. By that time (Note : circa 1976-77), the jazz-rock thing was really finished. Then the situation came along where Whitesnake was forming and I just happened to have played with Bernie Marsden before in Cozy Powellís band... you know itís stricly through knowing people and being friends with them that these bandsĎ situations came about.

There are quite a few interviews where you talk about your stints with Whitesnake, so I do not want to dwell on it too much. How does it compare to play with Whitesnake and with Gary Moore, I mean both bands are playing blues-influenced hard rock but it seems you had more freedom playing-wise in Whitesnake....

Whitesnakeís music in the late 70Ďs / early 80Ďs was quite suitable for that kind of Ąbusy" bass playing that I was able to bring to it. Itís hard to explain... but you can write that sort of one kind of rock song where the bass can move around a bit or do some interesting rhythmic things and then thereíre very similar rock songs where the bass has to stay very rigid, just to play the rhythm or just play the bottom note all through the song... in fact, in the early 80Ďs, Gary Mooreís music was very much kind of typical heavy rock music(where Whitesnake was moving more towards that way later), more American really, he hadnít done the blues thing at that time. And although we had very similar tastes in music, the kind of thing he wanted to do required the bass to be much more a foundation, very solid, and I found it difficult to adjust to it because it required a different sound, a different style and playing. It is possibly less interesting... it wasnít required from me to put so much of myself into the music... you know, if I had realised that... it might have been better for me to stay with Whitesnake if I could have because it just didnít work out with Gary. By the time the second album came around (Note : Victims Of The Future), neither side was happy. It has to be said from 1982 onwards all the kind of rock music I was doing with different bands, I mean obviously mostly with Whitesnake but then with Vow Wow and other recording sessions that I was doing, a lot of it didnít require much from the bass anyway. It

was that era of huge, enormous drums sound and very simple bass playing.

You did record two albums with the Japanese band Vow Wow (ĄV" in 1987 and ĄHelter Skelter" in 1989). You did a bit of songwriting with them, mainly lyrics, something you had not done a lot in the past. Is songwriting something youíre interested in ?

Only lyrics in fact ! Usually the guitarist (Kyioji Yamamoto) or the keyboards player (Rei Atsumi) mostly had a song ideas, musical ideas, and the singer (Genki Hitomi) would kind of sing some nonsense words over the top, melodies, and I would have to find words that would fit that phrasing. It was a tough challenge and Iím not sure I did a very good job but it was something interesting to do. As far as songwriting altogether is concerned, itís something I know I should be doing and to concentrate on that because itís, for a start, where you make the most money but itís also a situation where the person who does most of the writing has a lot of the power. Other people are going to play your ideas... youíre the one who has come up with the ideas. And no matter how good of a musician you are, youĎre always just helping somebody elseís ideas... unless you have written the song of course !!! I think playing live can be creative in a very interesting and spontaneous way. But a lot of the time, live and in the studio, youíre playing the same thing over and over. It is not very creative. Youíre just doing a good job but with songwriting, I think if you come up with something youíre proud of and other people like it then thatís a very kind of creative endeavour. Itís something that I should have worked on much more because partly itís a technical thing, you have to be able to play the keyboards or the guitar or to sing reasonably well or get other people to do it for you. You have to be fairly forceful with your ideas, not being concentrating too much on bass playing and spending a lot more time getting into songwriting. Itís still something that I donít feel like Iím too late to do but itís still

something that is hard for me to really get going on. I should go away to some island somewhere and not have any distractions.

Letís talk about something that has always impressed me a lot... you always had the chance and opportunity to play with amazing drummers (Note : Bill Bruford, Ian Paice, Simon Phillips, Eric Singer, Cozy Powell, Steve Ferrone, Aynsley Dunbar, etc.) which for a bass player is probably the most important thing... is there still any drummers youíd like to play with ?

Oh yes, many many players. First, Iíd love to play with Ian Paice again (Note : he did at The Tony Ashton testimonial gig in June 2000) and maybe Simon Phillips again. But you know, there are lots of other drummers who are maybe not very famous but would make it very enjoyable for me to play with.... not so much like when you play with someone very powerful- a star kind of drummer... itís almost that theyíre in charge and youíre keeping up with them. If youíre have somebody who plays more simple maybe the bass could do a bit more and it would be nice to play with some guys like that. It of course depends on the kind of music it is because if you play with a certain kind of drummer he would make you play in a certain way. A drummer might be great at playing heavy metal but no good at playing jazz or funk, so you have to find somebody whoís a specialist in that area and if you donít get to play with somebody like that then you donít really get to play that kind of music properly... like a rock drummer playing country or funk and they donít really understand it or they donít do it very well... then thereís no way the bass can do it very well either, the whole thing has to be right. I am not very interested in playing with somebody whoís incredibly technically fast and does very difficult things... like somebody whoís very busy like Neil Peart, thatís not so interesting for me but at the same time I do like playing with drummers who do unexpected and exciting things... itís just that if theyíre playing too much then thereís no room for the bass player.

One of my favourite piece of music you played on is a track called ĄBurntwood" from Jon Lordís ĄBefore I Forget". It features you and Jon and to me the bass playing is amazing. Lord said in an interview that it was a very difficult bass part to play...

I think a lot of the melody was written by Jon Lord so I was just interpreting, like a classical musician, whatever was written down. Obviously, the sound is very much based on trying to be like Jaco Pastorius... that fretless sound that was very popular around that time (Note : 1982) and... but maybe, (I havenít listened to it for a long long time), itís almost that I would have to wait until this long and forget it and hear it again to say Ąoh it was quite good" or Ąoh, itís the same old stuff that I always play"... I know that I have the ability sometimes to play some nice melodies.... but very often in the studio itís not really the right situation or I donít feel comfortable, especially with fretless because itís so easy to play out of tune so you might play something thatís great melodically but just is not right technically so you have to do it again and the next time you do it you have forgotten what you have played before so itís not as good. And after the tenth time you do it everything is in tune but itís a very boring melody. So, I always think, whenever I record things that I could, in theory, do something much better. Iím very critical of myself.

Never satisfied...

Well... no... itís not just me...itís also the whole thing to do with albums where if thereís lots of space for the bass thatĎs quite unusual. Then the producer or the band or whoever must spend enough time to get the sound really really good and to get the performance very good, sometimes they donít bother doing that because itís not that important... unless itís your album. And then again, if you do something which is good maybe in the final mix the bass is quiet so nobody really hears it. And when it comes out on record, you can be a genius but if nobody hears it then whatís the point. So itís all these things which mean that sometimes people would say Ąoh thatís fantastic bass playing" because unless itís on a very popular record, itís very loud in the track and itís very obvious, then most people donít notice the bass if itís a little bit more subtle or concealed. I donít really want to play for other musicians and Iím not terribly interested in being fantastically, technically brilliant because I want normal ordinary people who donít understand music to enjoy the music that Iím playing even if theyíre not aware of what the bass is doing. As far as a solo album is concerned, itís a situation if I was doing that kind of thing either would somebody have to say ĄOK, hereís many thousands of pounds to go and make an album", which theyíre not gonna do, or I have to come up with the music to quite an advanced stage before somebody else gets involved. Generally, if I am going to collaborate with somebody else, if theyíre any good, then theyíll probably take over because they might have more experience

or have a more forceful character. I wouldnít want to do a solo album which was very boring and didnít turn me on. I would have to do something that I thought was very very good. I should be more driven to want to do something like that and maybe itís a question of being the age I am... maybe in my twenties I would be Ąoh yes, Iím the greatest, I want to do this, I want to do that" and now Iím not that ambitious. But I would still very much like to do music as much as possible that I really thought was great, even if it was not that popular it wouldnít matter too much if I actually thought it was fantastic that would be OK. But the things I think is fantastic are very very rare...more stuff is OK but ... some songs I donít really like but I quite enjoy playing them. I donít want to listen to them at home. And most of the albums Iíve made I donít want to listen to at home. It was fun to play on but Iíd rather listen to something else.

You played many different kinds of music... hard rock, heavy metal, jazz-rock and quite a lot of blues and blues-influenced rock... you played with the legendary Peter Green (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac) when he did his come-back after many years out of business. How was it to be part of this adventure ?

Well, it was difficult. Itís a very long and slow process for him to recover and get to the best that he can be. Particularly you got myself and Cozy Powell joining up with him and he was playing so little and so quietly that instantly we had to almost play nothing as well. Frankly, the first two months of us joining up with him, if we had come down to his level or tried to be less intense that he was than we would have had to stop playing because there was so little happening with the guitar and the voice. We almost had to kick him from behind and give him a little bit of power to carry him along. Of course, that is interpreted by some listeners as that weíre being too overpowering. He certainly needs some more bluesy musicians to play with him. He definitely is a very unique, kind of soulful person who has a particular blues feel that very very few British or White people in general have got. I would say that the kind of music that heís doing... Iím not quite the right guy for that, itís a little bit too laid-back, I like something with a little bit more energy. It was kind of tough to be so restrained... there are different kinds of blues type of situation where you would think you could do a lots of different things... every night would be different... in fact every night was virtually exactly the same which is a drag.

I remember a German TV show called ĄOhne Filter" that was aired in 1999, in which you participated, and it was quite disappointing. I was under the impression that Peter was almost starting from ground up again...

Well the difficulty is that he is very inconsistent. For example, two nights before that show he might be playing great with much more energy and much more life. And then, for whatever reason, itís very easy for him to kind of... almost go half asleep on stage and not be interested and not to put any energy into it at all. You know when youíre up there on stage whether itís gonna be a bad night or not. If itís a bad night, there is nothing much you can do... occasionally, he would pick up but... you know... heís just a creature of his mood so if heís feeling tired or fed up, he doesnít have the reserve of energy to take it out to be a powerful show. I remember doing that programme and I knew it was not going to be very good. Certainly after a year or two of playing with him it got better but then of course a lot of people came to see the band in the first year and they would not come back again because it was so different from what they had remembered in the 60Ďs or 70Ďs. I do think that he is somebody very special and that he has got something that might not be very obvious to other people but when youíre playing with him just the way he can play certain things... if youíre in tune with it, with that kind of blues playing, you can understand how difficult it is to feel that kind of natural playing ...very few people over here can do that. I sort of wish that I could have that blues feeling that Peter Greenís got but I also wish that he had some of the power that he had thirty years ago.

Brian May... is there any plan to work with him in the (near) future ?

No I donít think so. I donít think he was very happy that the last album didnít do very much and the tour was OK but not a very big and successful tour. If I was in his position, I would want to go out and play live... itíd cost me a lot of money but Iíd do it because you get to an age when itís gonna be too late... at the moment he seems to be doing film soundtracks or occasional tracks with other people like collaborating with the Foo Fighters or Axl Rose and stuff like that. I donít think heís planning a solo album or a tour or anything. It would be great to play with him again but for the moment I have to think that it is not going to happen.

I think the last tour was great ! In Zurich for instance, the Volkshaus went mad and was sold out....

Well you have to remember that compared to Queen that was completely unsuccessful to play in front of 1,500 people in the Volkshaus.

Donít you think people went to see Queen because of Freddie and not because of Brian ?

No I donít agree ! I think it was the whole thing, the songs and yes Freddie was very important but Brian is as important. If you could imagine Queen with Freddie, John Deacon, Roger Taylor and letís say Jake E Lee on guitar it would not be the same. It has to be Brian May because he is so unique. You know, Brian is under great pressure from the record company and the management to do things that are at the same level as Queenís success. So that means that you can only play big places once every ten years then thatís what you do instead of playing small places every couple of years. I donít think he was under personal pressure to be on tour and come back home. I also think he was very much affected by Cozyís death. Cozy was more than just his drummer, he was like a very good friend and a very good advisor to him and as Brian has great mood swings, where he can get very low and depressed, then Cozy would be very good to bring him out of that and giving him direction, kind of pushing him from behind. Without Cozy there, there was nobody else in the band anymore that has quite the same effect on him. I donít have that sort of relationship with Brian. It might have been different with Cozy still around... but who knows ?

Cozy was also one of your very good and close friend. You worked on many occasions with him since 1974... it must have been very hard for you as well when he passed away...

Yes..... but itís not true that I was close to him all through that period. It was only really from the late 80Ďs, the last 10 years of his life, when we became much closer. But mainly through work, not so much through other interests. He was much more of a country person, he liked fast cars, motorbikes, football and stuff like that. I did not have much contact with him when we were not working and before that time, letís say when he was with Rainbow or Michael Schenker, I had very little contact with him at all. I certainly miss him very greatly and I wish that he was around to get involved in projects...

Was is difficult to adapt to Eric Singerís playing ? To me, he sounds like Cozyís Ąspiritual son"...

Every drummerís different. I can adapt to whoever Iím playing with normally. Eric is a fantastic drummer. Heís probably technically better that Cozy. Heís got more ability than Cozyís had but maybe Cozy had more of his own style. I enjoyed playing with Eric very much and hopefully we can play together again sometime. You know when somebody is from the States and is 10 years younger then you donít have so much in common. Cozy and myself had much more of an history together. We grew up in the same time, listened to the same records and everything.

One question youíve probably answered a million times before... is there any chance to see a Whitesnake reunion tour in the future with THE line-up, i.e. Coverdale, Marsden, Murray, Lord, Paice and Moody ?

I donít know but I donít think it is very likely. As the years go by, on the one hand you think itís a sensible thing to do and that people would be interested. On the other hand, Iím kind of pessimistic as to how many people would be interested because Whitesnake changed so much and some people think of us as Whitesnake but for lots of people itís the Whitesnake from 1984 onwards. But then the 1990 Whitesnake is different again. If you put together Coverdale, Lord, Paice, Marsden, Moody and myself, yes we could do a tour like theaters or something in Japan and Europe but we couldnít play in America because nobodyís interested in that version of the band. In the US, we could play in clubs, which is what Company of Snakes will be doing. After that few months of touring, maybe you do a live album but thereís not a huge, huge audience out there desperately waiting for Whitesnake to get back together again.

I know at least three people ! (Laughs)

Well... three people is probably not enough !!! (Laughs)

Last question... for those who are not familiar with your playing, which album would you recommend to listen to to have a fair idea of what youíre able to do ?

Well, thatís fairly impossible to say.... Iím happy when people listen to ĄReady And Willing" or ĄCome And Get It" by Whitesnake. I like those two albums. Apart from that I donít think thereís very much that Iím very happy with as far as the whole album is concerned.

Jon Lordís ĄBefore I Forget" ?

Yes but Iím only on...

Youíre on all songs but two !

Am I ? (laughs) Well, itís down to what kind of music people like. People who like Whitesnake probably donít like Jonís solo album. Itís a good record which was done 20 years ago... I might not be as good now... or I might be better ! (laughs)

OK Neil, thatís it. Thank you very very much for your time and all the best.

Neil can also be heard on the new tribute albums to Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy.

Selected discography

Whitesnake : Ready And Willing, Come And Get It, 1987

Black Sabbath : Tyr

Colosseum II : Strange New Flesh

Gary Moore : Corridors Of Power, Rocking Every Night Ė Live in Japan

Phenomena : I, II-Dream Runner

Brian May : Live At Brixton Academy

Cozy Powell : Especially For You