SECOND PART OF THE INTERVIEW WITH NEIL MURRAY. ENJOY IT!!!!!!!!
In Gary Moore band you worked with John Sloman; what is your opinion about him?
I heard some of John's songs in early 1982, thought they were excellent, and produced various demo tapes for him over the next couple of years. At the beginning, we had a band called Badlands with John Sykes on guitar, but then John joined Thin Lizzy, I joined Gary Moore, and a few months later John Sloman also joined Gary for a time. John is very talented, but I think his songs were sometimes too sophisticated for what the record companies were looking for, and he wasn't quite enough of a conventional heavy rock singer. I think John should have had more success than he's had, but I guess not everyone can be a star.
I suppose your period with Black Sabbath was very special for you, Tony Iommi is a legend. Is he so brilliant like it seems?
I wasn't a big Black Sabbath fan, and I guess if Cozy Powell hadn't been in Sabbath at that time (1989) it's unlikely that I would have been asked to join, as I wasn't known as a heavy metal bassist, more as a blues-rock player. However, Sabbath's roots, like mine, are in the blues boom of the mid-60s, so there was common ground. Tony is an extremely creative guy, who is always coming up with new riffs. He loves to play all the time. He's also a very friendly and funny guy, which goes against his image. Sabbath brought out the most heavy side of my playing, and in some ways I had quite a lot of freedom, but I was having to play Geezer's bass lines on many songs and a lot of fans would rather see Geezer play instead of me.
Steve Vai is my favourite guitarist in history, how is to work with him?
Steve is obviously a genius of the guitar (it's interesting to me that people in Latin countries, like Spain, Italy, South America etc, tend to idolise virtuoso players who are more classically-influenced and technical, rather than simpler, rockier, bluesier players) and about a million times better than me as a musician. I went through a period of playing very complicated music in the 1970s, and it doesn't interest me so much now. If something is very clever and difficult, I can appreciate it, but that's not the music which moves me. I have only played a few songs on a couple of shows with him, and I wouldn't be good enough to play in a band with him, but that's not really what I want to do anyway. He's a very intelligent and interesting person, and a nice guy.
You still worked with a legend like Brian May. He, apart of Queen, is a fan of hard rock bands, what is your opinion about him?
Brian is a lovely person and a brilliant musician. He likes many types of music, and maybe he's less into hard rock now than he was a few years ago. I very much enjoyed being in his band, partly because he likes to do things to as high a standard as possible, and touring with him was very comfortable and professional. Because of working so long in We Will Rock You, which he is very much in control of, I think nowadays he sees me more as the bass player for that show instead of someone who tours with big rock bands. He likes music to be 'composed' and with lots of parts which stay the same after they are written, whereas my taste is for more improvisation by all band members, not just the lead guitarist.
How is your experience after 8 years in musical about Queen? Is it a very different experience to being in a rock group?
[The musical isn't the story of Queen, it is a comedy set 300 years in the future]. It is quite different - it's more like being in a recording session, playing the same songs every night and trying to make them perfect each time. We wear headphones, we're following a conductor and we don't have much connection with the audience. Maybe We Will Rock You is more 'rock' than most musicals, but it's still very disciplined and it's expected that we keep very close to the original Queen recordings.
During these last 8 years, have you collaborated with any rock band?
From 199 to 2006 I was also working with ex-Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden & Micky Moody, playing classic Whitesnake songs mostly, first in Company of Snakes then M3 Classic Whitesnake. We did one album of new songs but mostly the fans wanted to hear the old ones. We toured in the UK and Europe quite a lot (I can take off as much time as I want from We Will Rock You, but I have to pay a stand-in bassist for each show I miss) but then Bernie and Micky decided to have a break from working with each other. Last year Micky and I put together Monsters of British Rock, to continue playing classic Whitesnake songs live.
During the last 8 years, I've done occasional TV & live appearances with Brian May & Roger Taylor, sometimes as Queen or as Queen + Paul Rodgers, though I wasn't the bass player on their tours. I sometimes play with Spike Edney's SAS Band, who have many famous guest singers (Spike was/is Queen's keyboardist), and I did a Japanese tour with Michael Schenker Group in January 2010. I do some recording sessions, but usually not with well-known artists.
Which are the songs you are more satisfied to have composed?
I have done very little songwriting, though I contributed ideas quite often in Whitesnake. There are parts that I didn't get any credit for, though on the early Whitesnake albums the band would split writing credits between all the members on one song on each album, to give a little of the royalties to us.
What is your opinion about the following artists you have worked with?
Brilliant guitarist who has written some memorable instrumental numbers, which is hard to do. His songs are often a lot of fun to play.
Maybe the best rock singer ever, in my opinion. I have played with him a little, but it would be great to get the chance to play all the classic Free and Bad Company songs with him sometime. I didn't think he was quite the right singer for Queen, but he still looks and sounds fantastic.
When I played on the demos for Love At First Sting, they used to play a song once then discuss it for an hour! Better to play it 10 times instead. Not very technical musicians, but they deserve their success, because they work very hard, and very nice guys.
Perfect for Deep Purple, but maybe not for Black Sabbath. Apart from him guesting with Sabbath occasionally on Smoke On The Water, I've only played on some demos for him about 20 years ago.
Unique! It's very difficult for any other singer to be in Black Sabbath, apart from perhaps Ronnie James Dio, as Ozzy is who the fans associate with the band, and he has such a distinctive sound to his voice. I helped him rehearse some songs for a couple of days in 1985, but that's the only time I've worked with Ozzy.
He had an amazing vocal range some years ago, but I don't think he can sing that way any more, which is sad. I'm on one track of his 'Night Games' album, and I played a few songs with him at a Classics In Rock concert in Rotterdam in 2007.
It's a shame he hasn't had more success, as I said earlier.
We are preparing a Ronnie Dio tribute. I supose you knew him. In that case, what is your opinion about his career.
I only met Ronnie a couple of times and I didn't know him as a friend. Of course he was an amazingly strong metal singer and a powerful presence on stage. Like many artists, he had big success for a few years, then the fashion changed and his style seemed to go out of fashion for a time. He will be remembered as possibly the greatest heavy metal singer of them all.
Apart from the Queen musical, which are your plans for the future?
No particular plans, though I would like to play many types of music with the best players possible. I hope to do a lot of shows this year with Monsters of British Rock, but I'm open to any possibilities that come along. I would prefer to do less playing where I have to copy, other bassists such as John Deacon, Geezer Butler, Billy Sheehan, Roger Glover etc, though they are all very good players. I even get bored having to play my own bass parts on old Whitesnake songs!
Do you say anything to your Spanish fans that read this publication?
I wish I could come and play in Spain much more often - it doesn't seem to be possible right now. Stop listening to stupid dance music and hip-hop, and ask Spanish promoters to bring over top UK rock bands!