THE SNAKE BITES AGAIN!
Bailey Brothers interview with David Coverdale!
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”.
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.
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”.
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
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
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
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.
have a fantastic band for the tour. Can you talk us through the line up?
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?
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.
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?
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
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.
“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?
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
interview by The Bailey Brothers