Neil Murray is a Scottish musician recognised for his role as the former bassist for renowned bands such as Whitesnake, Brian May’s band, Black Sabbath, and Gary Moore. He started as a drummer and switched to bass at age 17. Influenced by blues and Motown, he studied graphic design before diving into a music career. Early gigs included playing with jazz-fusion band Gilgamesh in 1973, touring and recording with Junior Hanson (later Junior Marvin of Bob Marley & the Wailers), and periods in Cozy Powell’s Hammer with future Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden.
Influenced by artists such as Jeff Beck, Weather Report and Cream, his career advanced with a stint in Colosseum II, playing together with Gary Moore on the album Strange New Flesh, after which he joined progressive ‘Canterbury’ band National Health, recording an album in 1977. Despite his work with complex music projects, commercial success was limited, prompting him to explore other genres.
Neil joined Whitesnake when it was being formed in late 1977, and during his tenure until 1986, the band achieved significant success in Britain, Europe and Japan, recording six albums. Despite their popularity, Whitesnake’s early tours in the US didn’t garner the same level of success as elsewhere. After internal band changes in 1982, Murray and drummer Ian Paice joined Gary Moore, recording and touring, but Neil returned to Whitesnake in late 1983.
In addition to his main projects, Murray was involved with various artists, contributing to their solo albums and playing in notable events such as the Secret Policeman’s Other Ball concerts. Despite the dissolution of a short-lived band called John Sloman’s Badlands, which he formed after leaving Whitesnake and included guitarist John Sykes, Murray’s career has been marked by his versatile musicianship and contributions to the rock scene.
After rejoining Whitesnake during one of its line-up changes in late 1983 he played a key role in re-recording for the U.S. remix of the album Slide It In. Neil toured extensively with Whitesnake, including headlining in the UK and Europe and supporting arena acts in the U.S., which helped the band gain a wider audience. Following this, writing and recording for the eventually very successful Whitesnake/1987 album took almost two years, and despite his contributions, Neil was no longer a band member by the time of its release.
In 1987, he joined the Japanese hard rock band Vow Wow, with whom he recorded and toured extensively, although he never considered himself a permanent member. Murray’s career continued with notable stints, including joining Black Sabbath in 1989, touring, and showcasing his diverse bass playing styles.
Neil was part of the Brian May Band for recording and touring in 1992/93, often opening for Guns N’ Roses, and again during 1998, as well as all-star band SAS Band, playing live gigs with famous guest vocalists. He also had a brief return to Black Sabbath in 1994/95 then worked with the legendary Peter Green in the Splinter Group.
In 1999, Neil reunited with former original Whitesnake members Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody in the Company of Snakes and later M3 Classic Whitesnake, which focused on performing Whitesnake’s classic era songs. More recently, Neil and Micky had the band Snakecharmer, which continued the blues-influenced rock they were known for from Whitesnake.
Apart from his band engagements, Murray was a mainstay of the band for the Queen musical We Will Rock You for twelve years from 2002 and again for periods between 2019 and 2023 totalling well over 3,000 performances.
Artists that Neil has worked with in addition to the above include Jeff Beck, Sting, Eric Clapton, Michael Schenker, The Scorpions, Empire, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Paul Rodgers, Joe Satriani, Ginger Baker, Joe Bonamassa and many others.