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A Short Bio:
Although he is now more reknowned for his session and live work with heavy-metal bands such as Whitesnake, Black Sabbath or Gary Moore's group, Neil Murray was originally very involved in the Canterbury scene, although little evidence has been left : National Health's first album, one track ("Clocks And Clouds") on the archive release Missing Pieces by the same band and a third of the Gilgamesh CD Arriving Twice (Murray plays on the original demo from 1973).
Neil Murray (born Philip Neil Murray) originally played piano, then trombone, although his band debut was as a drummer in a school band alongside Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore (both later of Slapp Happy), between 1965 and 1968 at St. Christopher's School, Letchworth, Hertfordshire. Later, while studying graphic design and typography at the London College of Printing (1968-72), he got much more into becoming a bass player.
In early 1973, Murray met Alan Gowen at a party, and was invited to join his newly formed band, Gilgamesh, alongside Phil Lee (guitar) and Mike Travis (drums). His stint with the band included various gigs and radio sessions, plus two concerts (in Leeds and London) by the double quartet of Gilgamesh plus Hatfield and the North, in November 1973. Shortly after these gigs, he left Gilgamesh to join Hanson, an Hendrix-type band led by Junior Hanson (later known as Junior Harvin in Bob Marley and the Wailers), touring and recording (the Magic Dragon album on ELP's Manticore label) in America. But the band fell apart in July 1974 when Hanson was jailed in New York on drugs charges. In subsequent months, Murray spent a lot of time practising and did a few gigs substituting for his former bass teacher and 'mentor' Clive Chaman in Cozy Powell's Hammer in September 1974, and again in February/March 1975.
Then in May 1975 he was offered to join Colosseum II by ex-Hammer keyboard player Don Airey, alongside drummer Jon Hiseman and guitarist Gary Moore. After one year and an album (Strange New Flesh), Murray left (actually he was fired along with singer Mike Starrs due to pressure from Bronze, the band's label) and accepted Alan Gowen's offer to join National Health, replacing the departed Mont Campbell in July 1976.
During his one year and a half stint with National Health, Neil Murray toured Europe extensively, recorded numerous radio sessions and played on the band's eponymous debut album. Unfortunately, by the time it was released, Murray had quit the band. While in National Health, Murray played with Bill Bruford on the initial rehearsals (July 1977) for Bruford's debut solo album Feels Good To Me, replacing Jeff Berlin (who was temporarily unavailable), and playing alongside Allan Holdsworth and Dave Stewart. Around the same time, Murray also rehearsed several times with a revamped Gilgamesh (Phil Lee, Alan Gowen and drummer Trevor Tomkins) but no gigs were performed. In early 1978, he once again replaced Jeff Berlin in Bruford's band for an appearance on 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' on BBC TV.
In December 1977, Neil Murray left National Health to join ex-Deep Purple singer David Coverdale's band Whitesnake. This eventually proved a very profitable move, and Murray soon became a most in-demand session player in the heavy genre. Apart from two long stints with Whitesnake (1978 to 1981 and 1983 to 1986), he also rehearsed for a trio project (nothing came of it) with Allan Holdsworth and Gary Husband (1980), toured and recorded with Gary Moore's Band (1982-83), Black Sabbath (1989 to 1990 and again from fall 1994 to the end of 1995) and ex-Queen guitarist Brian May (1992-93, 1997-), generally alongside drummer Cozy Powell (who sadly died in a road accident in the Spring of 1998). In recent years, he has played with guitarist Peter Green's band The Splinter Group. He has also played on Brian May's latest album Another World and is currently touring with him.
Here is the latest news from Murray himself (June '99) : "I toured for a few months with Brian May, then recently I've been playing with a couple of ex-Whitesnake guitarists, Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody, in a band playing mostly old Whitesnake songs, called The Company of Snakes".