Originally a drummer, Murray formed his first band with school friends in 1967 (Slap Happy and the Dum-Dums) and his musical tastes were heavily influenced by the mid-1960s 'blues boom' bands and musicians, especially Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, and later by Motown legend James Jamerson and Tim Bogert of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice. Murray moved to bass shortly before studying graphic design at the London College of Printing.
During 1973, Neil briefly played in Gilgamesh, a jazz-fusion band led by Alan Gowen. After his departure from Gilgamesh, Murray toured the USA with Junior Hanson, following a recommendation from Jeff Beck’s bass player Clive Chaman. Hanson later became a member of Bob Marley & The Wailers under the name Junior Marvin.
Murray's next gig came again through a recommendation from Clive Chaman, touring with Cozy Powell's Hammer in 1974 and 1975. The line-up included Don Airey and Bernie Marsden. After Cozy Powell decided to fold Hammer, Murray and Airey joined a revamped version of the British jazz rock band Colosseum, named Colosseum II. The band's leader, drummer Jon Hiseman, had evolved the band's sound by eliminating the saxophone in preference for a rockier sound courtesy of Gary Moore's guitar.
After Colosseum II, in 1976 Neil teamed up again with ex-Gilgamesh keyboardist Alan Gowen in National Health with whom he recorded a self-titled album in 1977. National Health's complex music and the lack of commercial success prompted Murray to investigate other musical avenues planted in the world of bands like Cream, Jeff Beck or John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. After playing with Bernie Marsden in Cozy Powell's Hammer, Murray had played on a couple of tracks on Babe Ruth's album "Kid's Stuff", prior to Marsden joining two members of Deep Purple in Paice Ashton Lord.
From 1978 until late 1986, Murray helped make Whitesnake one of the most popular bands in Europe and Japan and later America. He recorded 8 albums ("Trouble", "Love Hunter", "Ready An' Willing", "Live In The Heart of The City", "Come An' Get It", "Saints An' Sinners", "Slide It In", and "Whitesnake"). Murray's melodic basslines, influenced by Jack Bruce, Andy Fraser and even Jaco Pastorius, stand out from the rock bass-playing of the time.
He did numerous tours in the UK, Europe, Japan and played at Reading Festival in 1979 and 1980 and the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington in 1981. However, tours of the US opening for Jethro Tull in 1980 and Judas Priest in 1981 were not enough to match the band's success elsewhere. In 1982, Neil Murray and Ian Paice both joined Gary Moore for a very successful 2 years. Moore was about to become one of the most popular hard rock guitarists of the era. Murray and Paice recorded three albums with Moore: "Corridors Of Power","Victims of The Future" and "Rocking Every Night - Live In Japan".
In 1987, Murray joined Japanese hard-rock band Vow Wow, who had recently relocated to England. He recorded four albums with the band between 1987 and 1989, and toured the UK, Europe, and Japan. He also lived in Tokyo for a few months in 1988.
By 1989, with Geezer Butler's refusal to join the latest Black Sabbath line-up, Murray was asked by Cozy Powell to try out. He joined soon after the release of "Headless Cross" and toured with the band in support of the album. Murray stayed with the band until late 1990, recording the "Tyr" album and once again touring.
After Black Sabbath reformed their "Mob Rules" lineup in 1991 with Iommi, Dio, Butler and Appice for "Dehumanizer", Powell and Murray started a band project and recorded songs with singer John West (Artension, Royal Hunt). Nothing came out of it until 1998 when those songs resurfaced on a tribute album released after Powell's death in April 1998.
In 1992, Queen's Brian May was ready to go on the road for the first time as a solo artist. Murray and Powell had done sessions for May's solo album “Back To The Light” and they were a natural choice for the touring band. For two years, the band toured the world, notably supporting Guns N' Roses and releasing "Live At Brixton Academy" in 1993.
In 1999, Murray started working again with Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody, who had been working with Norwegian Whitesnake tribute band The Snakes. When Marsden and Moody eventually parted ways with their Norwegian colleagues, they changed the band name to Company of Snakes with the vocalist Robert Hart (The Jones Gang, Bad Company, The Distance, solo artist/songwriter) joined them, together with Don Airey on keyboards.
Neil Murray is playing on the Michael Schenker Group album "In the Midst of Beauty", which was released on 11 May 2008.
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