A Bailey Brothers interview with David Coverdale!

One of the worlds premier rock bands, Whitesnake are back and headline the Monsters Of Rock tour in May. Hallam FM Arena in Sheffield will play host to the rock extravaganza that also features guitar legend Gary Moore (ex Thin Lizzy) and melodic USA rock band Y&T on Wed May 21st. Whitesnake’s lead vocalist David Coverdale has assembled a phenominal live touring band featuring Reb Beach (Winger, Dokken) and Doug Aldrich (DIO) on guitars. Bass guitar is Marco Mendoza (Ted Nugent and Thin Lizzy). On drums is the unmistakable Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne) and on keyboards is Timothy Durry (Eagles, Don Henley) To coincide with the tour and to celebrate the bands silver jubilee in 2003 EMI is releasing two best of compilations. The Best Of Whitesnake came out on the 17th of March and a double Anthology Best Of is released on May the 12th.

Gary Moore formed a trio last year called Scars with Ex Skunk Anansie bassist Cass Lewis and Primal Scream drummer Darrin Mooney. Both will be playing with him on the tour. Gary Moore shot to fame in the 70’s as Phil Lynott’s young dynamic lead guitarist in Thin Lizzy but has since been recognised world wide as a great solo artist and composer writing classics such as “Empty Rooms and “Out In The Fields” The Celtic Warrior is returning to his roots for this tour and will be playing many of his classic rock anthems. Moore has spent many years in a more laid back approach playing the blues.

Y&T have a cult following in Europe after their hit video “Summer Time Girls” was rotated regally on MTV. Y&T are fronted by one of the most under estimated vocalist/guitar players in rock Dave Meniketti. Like the above, the band have sold millions of albums over the years.

David Coverdale is quite simply a rock icon. He was plucked from obscurity in the early 70’s to become the front man in Deep Purple recording classic albums such as Burn (released in 1974). Since then he has etched his initials in the hearts and souls of rock fans around the globe. After quitting Purple in March 1976 the road to international stardom could have been lost in the fog but the young shrewd Yorkshire born musician had both the vision and the vehicle to plan his own route and destiny. Whitesnake would prove to be a good alternative to Punk. “Fool For Your Lovin’, a song inspired by the break up of his first marriage and taken from the Snakebite EP would be the pinnacle launch pin as it hit the right chord with the UK fans. Six impressive albums would follow including the gems such as “ Love Hunter”, “Ready And Willing” and “Come And Get It”.

The band were now playing sell out shows across Europe and by the time they played the MOR at Donington in 1983 they were a major force . In 1984 Whitesnake signed to Geffen Records and David Coverdale re-located to the US where he has lived ever since. The band’s debut American album “Slide It In” became a top 40 platinum hit with memorable tracks such as “Love Ain’t No Stranger”. Unfortunately due to a serious sinus problem that threatened Coverdale’s singing career Whitesnake would be out of the spotlight for three years. It was a time when the music pendulum had swung in another direction. Punk was out, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal had been and gone but the next scene on the horizon would finally make rock accessible to the masses. It was also the end of the Coverdale, Marsden and Moody era of Whitesnake.

David Coverdale felt he had to freshen things up in terms of the bands image if he was going to fulfil his ambitions. He found the golden nugget in terms of a song writing sidekick. when he teamed up with former Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes. They would be responsible for writing the self titled album Whitesnake in 1987. It sold over ten million copies in the US alone and held the number 2 position in the charts for six months. They had a number one single with “Here I Go Again” and the follow up ballad “Is This Love” reached number 2.. With his wife, Tawny Kitaen turning the temperature up in many of the promo videos Whitesnake would enjoy heavy rotation on MTV and many other music channels around the globe thus leading to super stardom status.

The album has proven to be one of the great releases of all time in terms of songs and production and although the follow up “Slip Of The Tongue” was good the introduction of guitar wizard Steve Via could not emulate the Coverdale/Sykes success. Once again, a new scene was on the way. A sort of rebellion against all the lip stick, hairspray, and glam imagery of the 80’s, this would be the nail in the coffin for American styled melodic rock. Only the giants such as Def Leppard and Bon Jovi would survive but even they couldn’t re-capture the massive album sales of the mid to late 80’s. During the 90’s a darker, faster style of metal was growing, Glam rock surrendered the dance floor to the moshers and the slam pits were an essential item at all festivals.

After three years touring David Coverdale took a break from Whitesnake to collaborate with a rock legend Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and released the Coverdale/Page album in 1993. The next Whitesnake album “Restless Heart” would follow a year later and went to number 1 in Japan as did the unplugged album “Starkers in Tokyo.” After a successful world tour Whitesnake was again put on hold in 1997 as David devoted his time to being a husband and a father to his son Jasper now aged 6. 2000 saw the release of a classy solo album “In To The Light” a calmer more bluesy, soulful Coverdale gave a splendid performance and proved there was more to rock than screaming it out. Probably the finest song on the album is “No More Tears”.

With such a marvellous career behind him David Coverdale no longer needs to take Whitesnake any further but record companies can be persuasive especially when they are releasing albums almost back to back. His hunger to perform to an audience is as evident as ever. The success of Whitesnake’s recent tour of the US with the Scorpions seems to have re-charged his batteries and enthusiasm as he prepares for a welcomed return back to the UK.


The Bailey Brothers accepted an invitation to once again interview David Coverdale and found him in a very relaxed and confident mood. David told us how much he misses England and Yorkshire and we congratulated him on 25 years in the rock business so with the pleasantries out of the way let’s find out what makes David Coverdale the legend that he is?


BBs: We have been listening to the “Best Of” album which kicks off with “Fool For Your Loving” and ends with “Still Of The Night”. It’s like a book of two chapters, the blues of the 70’s combining with the melodic but powerful rock of the 80s. Did anyone do any research with the fans to find out what they would like to hear on the album?

DC: Well I must tell you I actually worked on two projects last year and that was definitely fan assisted through my web site .I asked people what they would think would be their favourite songs That was very much a deciding factor for the double CD I worked on for the 25 year anniversary. I actually worked on another one callled “The Early Years” which went from 78 to 84, finishing off with the “Slide It In” album.I don’t think EMI know what to do with the early years so they are looking at just keeping me happy.

The anthology album is going to be 25 years of Whitesnake, some of the stuff from Jimmy Page and me, also some of my solo stuff , that’s coming out to coincide with the tour.But yeah I have had a lot of good responses on my web site from people who have got it and have enjoyed the remasters and stuff, but I can' t take the credit for that ,it’s an EMI thing.. Their project was fuelled by more of a singles orientated Whitesnake although I have never considered us as a singles band so that’s more or less what you are getting there with “The Best Of”.

BBs: Of the two periods which gives you most pleasure as a songwriter and performer?

DC: I don’t go back. I’m not a nostalgic person, but what was fantastic for me while I was working on these things lat year was to be re-introduced to the earlier songs. I don’t go back & listen usually, that’s the weird thing, y’ know. I remember those things – been there, done that, or whatever, so it was really intersting and refreshing & very enjoyable for me to hear – for instance the incredible rhythm section of Neil Murray & Ian Paice and Bernie Marsden’s melodic guitar solos. All of that stuff was a pleasure so by the same token I remember as I went into the 80’s that I knew that Whitesanke had to get more electrifying, in terms of presentation and not continue in the same vein as it was then. I’m still proud of all that kind of stuff but I also like the changes that I made.

BBs: Is it fair to say that the Whitesnake 87 album has proven to be both the pedestal and the anvil as you have an almost impossible task of repeating it’s success now the media outlets needed don’t exist anymore for traditional rock?

DC: There's no anvil about it. The fact that it was so succcsessful was extraordinarily rewarding I have never ever tried to compete with those kind of sales cos it is an extraordinarily successful piece of work. It captured everything in a microcosm for that time. The videos were successful. I don’t particuarly want to make any more videos but its a lot of fun for me to see them – its like little time capsules but I don’t have a problem with that, in fact it’s a thrill for me that those songs did so well and the album did so well. Thank God, y’know, I’m still enjoying the fruits of that particular labour.

BBs: It must be annoying that everything is always centred around Whitesnake 87 so many fans miss out on your other work such as the days in Deep Purple. What memories do you have of working with Ritchie Blackmore and co and what did you learn from that period as a writer/performer?

DC: Ritchie was a huge mentor for me, and I was a very willing disciple of his for a period of time. A stunning musician, we initially got on very very well but as time went on, a very short space of time unfortunately, there was a kind of growing apart, definitely a difference in personalities. But you know – I loved working with him and I regard that as one of the highlights of my life. He was very influetial on me. Just going back there’s no worry for me. I know that I was with Deep Purple. I know that I worked with Jimmy Paige. Its of no concern for me that a percentage of people don’t – it doesn’t bother me at all – I’m just very happy that i'm still doing it mate!

BBs: We can remember asking you about John Sykes in an interview some time ago and you were seething at the very memtion of his name. Hopefully time has gone by long enough for us to get an honest reaction as to how you feel about the possibility of writing together again?

DC: John & I were speaking last year and there was a potential window of opportunity for us to work together again. It was a pleasure to speak to him, of that there is no question, after 17 years of aminosity and I wish him well. We wrote great songs and we were great 18/19 years ago. There’s no guarantee that would work again. If it did would I want to recreate that? Im not really that bothered about recreating a particular time frame. I’m very happy working with fresh players who bring another level of excitement, another electrical dimension to my existing songs. It doesn’t mean to say I don’t want to recored again – I just don’t know at this time how I can get a new record to people because I don’t want to work within the record business. I’ve spent the last couple of years getting out of all my contracts so that is the dilema for me to create new music. I have more than enough music – I could probably put 3 albums together but its how to get them to people in a good positive way. My intention is to promote Whitesnake for the next three to five years and hopefully tour at least 6 months of the year and have fun.

BBs: Choosing the songs for the album must have lead you down memory lane and to the pub selling the good,bad and ugly moments in your life. The break up of your marrige to Tawny Kitaen came at a time when rock as we know it was on a slide. How did this effect you and was there a time when you thought - I think I will call it a day and just go fishing - or what ever you do to chill out?

DC: It's been well documented in a lot of the songs. I had two marriages – on both occasions I actually desired to be out of them because they weren’t working unfortunately, but they gave me incredible fuel for my songs. You can look at my first marriage and see “ Fool For Your Lovin” and “ Don’t Break my Heart Again”. A lot of those were fuelled by songs about a relationsip that once was very positive but sadly was unfolding into not positive. Of course there was a great deal of vitriol from my side related to my second marriage which is very well documented on a lot of the songs on Coverdale / Page, for which I had his full support cos he’d had similar experiences. Those kind of things you just have to take in your stride – it’s just all part of life. I have an incredible gift in that I can write about those things and get them out of my system rather than having them staying inside and turning into some horrible demon which can stop you moving forward. Right now, I’m involved in the most wonderful relationship I’ve ever known and had I not had those experiences before I would not be able to appreciate what I have now so well.

BBs: You have settled down again and seem really relaxed with your family around What does Jasper make of the whole rock’n’roll circus?

DC: He actually came on stage with me at a place called Sacameto. It was great. Although at this time he wants to be Tommy Aldridge rather than his dad so I’ll have to talk him out of that – singers make more money for instance.

BBs: You have a fantastic band for the tour. Can you talk us through the line up?

DC: Doug Aldrich is a spectacular musician, a great guitarist I have had my eyes and ears on him for some time but of course I haven’t had any plans to really work so the moment I did I had to steal him from our Ronnie (Ronnie James Dio) I’m afraid. Marco Mendoza worked with me on my “Into The Light” album. He’s a stunning player. We’ve talked for years about working together but of course, as you know, I wasn’t working. I was very happy Tommy Aldridge came back into the fold. He’s extrodinary and definitely one of the most exciting players I have had the pleasure of working with. I also have a guitarist called Reb Beach. You will know from Winger and Alice Cooper and he did some work with Dokken. He’s a great singer and a great player. The keyboard player we stole from Don Henley and the Eagles. He’s a guy called Timothy Drury. They are all great guys and great players and it’s just exciting to work with them. As I say they bring a new level of interesti to some songs, which is making me dig very deep in my own performance and I’m enjoying it immensely. I have absoulutly no hesitations in saying that it’s an honour and a pleasure for me to share the stage with them.

BBs: Why is Adrian Vandenberg not in the band?

DC: Adrian has a neck injury which makes it difficult to even hold his guitar, let alone play it for any length of time. Adrian & I are dear friends, brothers in fact . He has been working very successfully in Holland and has now been blessed with a beautiful daughter so he’s painting again and writing songs and the last time I spoke to him he was doing really well and preparing to mix an anniversary copy of his great song “Burning Heart”. So there wasn’t really a consideration on my part to go back there. I had to move on.

BBs: With thirty years of songs to choose from how difficult was it to put a live set together for the tour and is there anything from Deep Purple?

DC: Well it’s very hard. I would have loved to have included some of the Purple songs but in America there was more focus on the “Slide It In”, “Whitesnake 87” and “Slip Of The Tongue” albums courtesy of MTV. There’s a hardcore following that want to hear “Aint No Love In The Heart Of The City” and “Walking In The Shadows Of Blues”. Those songs are a pleasure to sing so I will be adding them.The loudest response fron the audience was always for the the most recent albums. Of course in those years I was selling lots of albums.

BBs: We hear there’s plans for a live album at last?

DC: We have been recording the shows in the US and have enough material for a live set in the can. We will be recording the UK and European shows as well. It would be good to have a legitimate live record because the fans have only had bootlegs. You know I never recorded the big songs “Is This Love” “Still Of The Night” so we are doing it now.

BBs: WE are looking forward to seeing Gary Moore live again. How do you rate Gary Moore as a player?

DC: I love Gary’s playing we were talking about working together just before he made his “Corridors Of Power” album. I think it’s going to be a guitar fans paradise to see Gary, Reb Beech,and Doug Aldrich play. I’m looking forward to seeing Gary and reconnecting again.

BBs: The “Starkers In Tokyo “ live show gave you an opportunity to strip the songs down and play unpluged did you enjoiy the experience?

DC: I loved the intimacy and doing different versions of songs like “Here I Go again” I would love to do do that with Doug. It’s a testiment to the songs when you take out the electric guitars and drums and the song stands up on it’s own.

BB’s: Do you find you can only write songs with a certain style of player? If so what is your ideal writing situation?

DC: The last couple of years I have been writing on my own. It’s a lonely old business writing songs on your own. I have always enjoyed involving other people. Certain songs, for instance, I would never have presented to John sykes which I felt would have been more of the dated Whitesnake, the earlier Whitesnake. Y’know , I definitely wanted Sykes involved to electrify the approach of Whitesnake and we did that, we achieved that very much, but I didn’t want to continue with that kind of bordering metal. John is probably the most metal player I have worked with. His blues was different, much more electrifying thasn say sombody like Bernie Marsden and it’s very exciting for me but I wouldn’t want to continue doing that all the time. It was great for that particular time and it was part of the plan that I had to do all that kind of stuff. I was very happy that it paid off so well.

BBs Will you be writing with Adrian Vandenberg again?

I’m not closing any doors. Adrian and I wrote together for twelve years. We had a great relationship and continue to maintain that. Itjust so happens that when you are working with people in a band you gravitate to those people you are writing with. I have been writing on my own for the last couple of years and enjoying it. That’s basically how I started off then I would start to invite players in. The more guitar orientated with Micky Moody or what ever. Ritchie and I prodominately wrote all the Puprle stuff when I was with him It seems to be easier for me to write for rock with another guitarist. Alot of the guitarists I have worked with have not really been composers but we have made it work some how. Particularly with someone like John Sykes who is an electrifying guitarist and a lot of those songs I couldn’t have wrote with some of the earlier players without compromising that approach. John was perfect for direction I wanted to take Whitesnake at that time as would have been Doug Aldrich had he been on the scene. But you know, I have about three albums worth of material and I have given two CDs of stuff to Doug Aldrich to see what he can do with them before we sit down to write. I don’t know if I’m going to do another record as yet. It’s probable but that’s not part of my master plan right now.So in terms of writing with people, I don’t know.

This is a classic case of there are more questions than answers. As David prepares for what could be one of Whitesnake’s most important tours in years. We wish him luck duiring our goodbyes and immediately push for another interview at the Sheffield MOR.. The first line of the song “Here I Go Again” sums up David Coverdale in 2003 - “I don’t know where I’m going but I sure know where I’ve been”. You wonder with the back to back compilations albums just how many times EMI can wrap up the same present. Ok, a few old classics and the Coverdale/Page material could swing in their favour and a live album of the same songs is planned. We left David with a suggestion we hope he will consider? “ Let’s have a new album - that’s what the Whitesnake fans want to hear!” For us this tour is very much a re-marketing of Whitesnake. If the interest is there and the chemistry is right David won’t resist another opportunity for the world to hear his talents as a song writer Maybe he is just filling contractual obligations and will release an album when it’s financially in his favour? He’s taking a gamble on writing on his own but will no doubt enjoy the fruits of his labour. In the meantime let’s enjoy the moment because Whitesnake are once again "Ready And Willing"!

interview by The Bailey Brothers