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Coverdale in 2015
22 September 1951|
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Genres||Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion, keyboard, piano, drums|
|Labels||Purple, EMI, United Artists|
|Deep Purple, Whitesnake, CoverdaleoPage|
David Coverdale (born 22 September 1951) is an English rock singer best known for his work with Whitesnake, a hard rock band he founded in 1978. Before Whitesnake, Coverdale was the lead singer of Deep Purple from 1973 to 1976, after which he established his solo career. A collaboration with Jimmy Page resulted in a 1993 album that was a commercial success. In 2016, Coverdale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Deep Purple, giving one of the band's induction speeches. Coverdale is known in particular for his powerful blues-tinged voice.
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Coverdale was born on 22 September 1951, in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Riding of Yorkshire, England. Around the age of 14, he began performing professionally and developing his voice. "I don't think my voice had broken," he explained to Sounds in 1974. "And that's when I first learnt how to sing with my stomach, which sounds silly, but it's totally different from a normal voice." Coverdale started performing with local bands Vintage 67 (1966-68), The Government (1968-72) and Fabulosa Brothers (1972-73).
In 1973, Coverdale saw an article in a copy of Melody Maker, which said that Deep Purple was auditioning for singers to replace Ian Gillan. Coverdale had fronted a local group called The Government, which had played with Deep Purple on the same bill in 1969, so he and the band were familiar with one another, and after sending a tape and later auditioning, Coverdale was admitted into the band, with bassist Glenn Hughes adding his own vocals as well.
In February 1974, Deep Purple released their first album with Coverdale and Hughes titled Burn which was certified Gold in the US on 20 March 1974 and in the UK on 1 July. In April 1974, Coverdale and Deep Purple performed to over 200,000 fans on his first trip to the United States at California Jam.
In December 1974 Burn was followed-up by Stormbringer, which also ranked at Gold album status in the US and the UK. The funk and soul influences of the previous record were even more prominent here, and this was one of the reasons why guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left the band in June 1975.
Rather than disbanding, Coverdale was instrumental in persuading the band to continue with American guitarist Tommy Bolin (of Billy Cobham and The James Gang fame). As Jon Lord put it, "David Coverdale came up to me and said, 'Please keep the band together.' David played me the album that Tommy did with Billy Cobham. We liked his playing on it and invited Tommy to audition.'" The band released one studio album with Bolin, Come Taste the Band in 1975. The album was less successful than previous records, and at the end of the tour in March 1976, Coverdale reportedly walked off in tears and handed in his resignation, to which he was told there was no band left to quit. The decision to disband Deep Purple had been made some time before the last show by Lord and Ian Paice (the last remaining original members), who had not told anyone else. The break-up was finally made public in July 1976. Said Coverdale in an interview: "I was frightened to leave the band. Purple was my life, Purple gave me my break, but all the same I wanted out."
After the demise of Deep Purple, Coverdale embarked on a solo career. He released his first album in February 1977, titled White Snake. All songs were written by Coverdale and guitarist Micky Moody. As his first solo effort, Coverdale later admitted: "It's very difficult to think back and talk sensibly about the first album. White Snake had been a very inward-looking, reflective and low-key affair in many ways, written and recorded as it was in the aftermath of the collapse of Deep Purple." Even though the album was not successful, its title inspired the name of Coverdale's future band.
In 1978 Coverdale released his second solo album Northwinds, which was received much better than the previous album. But before the album's release, he had already formed a new band.
After recording Northwinds, Coverdale soon formed the band Whitesnake, where Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody played guitar. This was originally a touring band for Coverdale's first solo album, it soon developed into a full-time band. In early 1978, the band released the Snakebite EP, which was later repackaged as a full album (titled Snakebite, released in June 1978), with the B-side taken from Coverdale's Northwinds album. For the follow-up album, Trouble, Coverdale was joined by his former Deep Purple colleague, keyboardist Jon Lord. For Whitesnake's 1980 album, Ready an' Willing, drummer Ian Paice also joined the group. Ready an' Willing also featured the band's biggest hit up to that point, the song "Fool for Your Loving", which reached No. 13 on the British charts and No. 53 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Ready an' Willing was followed up by the even more successful Come an' Get It in 1981. During 1982 Coverdale took some time off to look after his sick daughter and decided to put Whitesnake on hold. When David Coverdale returned to music he reformed the band, which thereafter recorded the album Saints & Sinners.
Whitesnake gained significant popularity in the UK, Europe, and Asia, but North American success remained elusive. In 1984, the album Slide It In dented the US charts (reaching #40), but not enough to be considered a hit. In time for the US release of Slide It In, Coverdale made a calculated attempt at updating Whitesnake's sound and look by recruiting guitarist John Sykes from the remnants of Thin Lizzy. Sykes brought a more contemporary, aggressive guitar sound with him and had stage manners to match. The last remaining Deep Purple connections were severed when Jon Lord left after recording Slide It In to re-form Deep Purple. (Ian Paice had left Whitesnake in 1982.)
In 1985, Sykes and Coverdale started working on new songs for the next album, but Coverdale soon contracted a serious sinus infection that made recording close to impossible for much of 1986 and which had doctors thinking he might never sing again. Coverdale eventually recovered, and recordings were continued. But before their upcoming album was fully recorded and released, Coverdale had dismissed Sykes from the band. The split with Sykes was, reportedly, not amicable.
In many period interviews, Coverdale stated that the next album was a make-or-break album for Whitesnake, and if not successful he would disband Whitesnake altogether. During 1987 and 1988, North America was finally won over, with the multi-platinum self-titled Whitesnake album, co-written for the most part with now-departed Sykes, but including guitar virtuoso Adrian Vandenberg, as a session musician.
The 1987 album has sold 8 times platinum since its release, propelled by hit singles such as "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love", and finally made Whitesnake a bona fide concert headliner in North America. Through the late 80s and early 90s, caught in the "hair-band" era, Coverdale kept Whitesnake going with great success despite changing line-ups.
In 1989 Coverdale recruited Vandenberg to record a new album, Slip of the Tongue. Vandenberg co-wrote the entire album with Coverdale, but a wrist injury sidelined him from contributing the solo guitar work. Steve Vai was recruited, re-recording most of Vandenberg's existing parts and finishing the album. Upon release, it was a great commercial success in Europe and the US.
The album peaked at number 10 in the US, and has achieved platinum status. Critical response was mixed, with Allmusic critics Steve Erlwine and Greg Prato noting that despite high sales, Slip of the Tongue "was a considerable disappointment after the across-the-board success of Whitesnake". The following tour, for which Vandenberg returned to play along with Vai, cemented Whitesnake's reputation as a giant in the world of hard rock. The tour continued until the end of 1990.
At that point, Coverdale had grown uncomfortable with the entity he felt Whitesnake had become, and admitted that he got "caught up in it". In one interview, Coverdale stated:
It got louder and louder, and so did I, to the point now where I have to get dressed up like a "girly man" and tease ones questionable bangs or hair and it's all becoming a bit... boring.
On 26 September 1990, after the last show on the Slip of the Tongue tour in Tokyo, Coverdale disbanded Whitesnake indefinitely. Tired of the business in general, the rigors of touring and troubled by his separation and later divorce from Tawny Kitaen, Coverdale wanted to find other values in life and took "private time to reflect" and re-assess his career direction.
In the early spring of 1991, a collaboration was set up with guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame. Both parties have said that the collaboration revitalised them on many levels. This collaboration resulted in the Coverdale-Page album released in March 1993. The album was a hit all over the world reaching number 4 in the UK and number 5 in the US, and was certified Platinum in the US on 7 April 1995, but the US tour for the album had to be cancelled due to slow ticket sales. After a limited Japanese tour, Coverdale and Page parted ways. In part, the problem had been the comparison to Robert Plant who had fronted Led Zeppelin, as vocalist, with Jimmy Page. Some of their audience criticised Coverdale, feeling he was merely a Plant clone; Plant himself referred to the team-up as 'David Cover-version'. Others felt the short-lived collaboration only served to inspire Page to once again hook up with Plant, a year later.
In 1994 Coverdale assembled a new line-up of Whitesnake (with the exception of Coverdale's musical partner, guitarist Adrian Vandenberg and bassist Rudy Sarzo, both of whom had been in Whitesnake since 1987) to tour for the release of Whitesnake's Greatest Hits album. The band again broke up after the tour. After this Coverdale once again retreated from the music business, for three years. In 1997 Coverdale returned and released Restless Heart (with Vandenberg on guitar). The album was originally supposed to be Coverdale's solo album, but the record company forced it to be released under the moniker "David Coverdale & Whitesnake". The tour was billed as Whitesnake's farewell tour, during which Coverdale and Vandenberg played two unplugged shows, one in Japan and the other for VH1. The first of the two shows was released the next year under the title Starkers in Tokyo. After the Restless Heart-tour ended, Coverdale once again folded Whitesnake and took another short break from music.
In 2000 Coverdale released his first solo album in 22 years, titled Into The Light. Even though the album was not a hit, it did return Coverdale to the music business.
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In December 2002, Coverdale re-reformed Whitesnake for an American and European tour, with Tommy Aldridge on drums, Marco Mendoza (bass), Doug Aldrich (guitar), Reb Beach (guitar) and keyboardist Timothy Drury. 2004-2005 saw Whitesnake embark on a tour of the United States, South America and Europe. A live DVD, shot during the 2004 tour at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo was released in February 2006. In June 2006, Coverdale signed a new record deal with Steamhammer Records. The first release under the new contract was the double live album Live: In the Shadow of the Blues (released 27 November 2006); the album also contained 4 brand new studio tracks written by Coverdale and Aldrich.
In 2008 the band (with new bassist and drummer) released its first new studio album in over 10 years titled Good to Be Bad. The band toured the album extensively. Also in 2008, Whitesnake embarked on a European Tour as part of a double bill with fellow Yorkshire rockers Def Leppard.
In 2009, Whitesnake toured with Judas Priest on the British Steel 30th Anniversary Tour. On 11 August 2009, Whitesnake was playing a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, when Coverdale suffered some kind of vocal injury. After seeing a specialist, it was announced on 12 August 2009 that Coverdale had been suffering from severe vocal fold edema and a left vocal fold vascular lesion. The remainder of the tour with Judas Priest was cancelled so that this injury would not worsen.
In early February 2010, David Coverdale announced that his voice had seemed to have fully recovered from the trauma that sidelined him and the band on the Priest tour. He stated he had been recording new demos, aiming for a new Whitesnake album, and that on tape his voice was sounding full and strong. The studio album Forevermore was released on 25 March 2011, with Aldrich and Beach on board.
In 2016 Whitesnake will embark on the "Great Hits" tour in selected cities in North America and Europe.
Coverdale was married in 1974 to Julia Borkowski from Germany, and their daughter Jessica was born in 1978. Coverdale's second marriage was to former model and actress Tawny Kitaen, from 17 February 1989 until they divorced two years later, in April 1991. Kitaen was known for her provocative appearances in Whitesnake's music videos for "Here I Go Again", "Is This Love" and "Still of the Night." Since 1997, he has lived with his third wife, Cindy, an author (The Food That Rocks); they have one son named Jasper.
In December 2002 Coverdale reunited Whitesnake for Whitesnake's 25-year anniversary.