20?s with David Coverdale the face of Whitesnake.
Mr. David Coverdale has aged well.
Doing a 20 Questions with David Coverdale is and was a great thing for Metal Sludge. Afterall, this guy was laying down vocals when most hairbands were laying down for naps in kindercare. What more can be said for a man who has
a career spanning 30+ years. Enjoy our extensive conversation with David.
DC: Hi Metal Sludge, it’s David Coverdale!
MS: Hi David. How are you?
DC: Where the Hell did you get Metal Sludge from?
MS: Are you aware of Metal Sludge?
DC: Well, ahh, it’s a charming name, I got a boner – you know!
MS: Well Metal Sludge is almost a decade old, we’re coming up on 8 years now.
MS: It’s the Internet National Enquirer of rock n’ roll.
DC: Oh my God! There’s a clue as to what I’m going to be in for, and I can always tell you, up yours mate! Which of course I have been known to do,
so be prepared.
1: No problem, Metal Sludge is all about fun, and we will ask you some goofy questions, but for starters – why don’t you tell us what’s up with you & Whitesnake for 2006?
DC: The first big news, is we’ve just been having phenomenal success. Are you global?
MS: Yeah, it’s a website so…Japan,
DA: We’ve literally just 2 weeks ago released the “Live – in the still of the night” DVD and it’s gone if not #1, #2 or Top 5 throughout Europe. It’s breath taking. This is the first time I’ve released anything new from Whitesnake in, I don’t know, other than greatest hits..
MS: 12 years?
DC: 1995 or something. So yeah, we’re all buzzing about that. And basically setting up the Japanese tour which will start in, I think May the 9th the first show. Then we go to Europe to do some shows in the
DC: Well not the Donnington, no. I don’t know whether they’re doing (it), they’re doing Monsters of Rock – I think someone from Clear Channel bought the franchise or something? I think some of my old partners in Deep Purple
are doing it this year.
2: What do you think is different in the industry now, in the new millennium compared to the 70s or the 80s when Whitesnake was first put on the map?
DC: Whitesnake was a very successful entity the rest of the world, I’d never really focused on
Whitesanke’s early 80′s lineup left to right is: Cozy Powell, Mel Galley,
David Coverdale, Micky Moody, Jon Lord, & Colin Hodgkinson
MS: Which the line-up was in a sense, but other than that…
DC: Well, but “Slide it in” was the ‘new’ approach of Whitesnake. It was more electric walk blues, ahhh, the earlier one was more R&B soul walk you know. But ahhh, I really did feel in my bones that is was time for a change and utilizing a guitarist like John Sykes, who was much more of a modernist, progressive guitarist that still had blues content. He said to me at one time, don’t ask me to play traditional blues; he said I’m just not interested. And I said well that’s one of the reasons I’m making a change.
DC: You saw basically what Hendrix did, you know with the blues. He went from the initial debut album, when you listen to that and then you listen to next one, the experimentation, still I could feel emotion in there. I didn’t need to hear him playing expressively in the 12 bar blues sequence. You know?
3: Do you think your decisions to give Whitesnake more attention in the last few years was affected by the reunions of KISS, Poison and Motley Crue?
DC: No not at all. I mean, that doesn’t even occur to me. Anybody who sees the DVD can see this isn’t retro or nostalgia. It’s a very vital electric rock n’ roll band. Umm, no, I went out – I’m very happily and successfully retired. I was blessed with a son at this late age in my life, and I enjoyed it, I did very well as a musician so, there was no real reason to go out. But it’s easy to let all of those things go to sleep in the back of your mind. So, 2002 EMI asked me to put some compilation albums together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Whitesnake – which was 2003. And it was really interesting, you know I’m correlating all these bits and pieces and getting all fueled up, enjoying listening to stuff, and including some of the older stuff which I hadn’t heard for many years. And thought, oh – this is fun! Then I started to get calls from people for the first time asking if I’d be interested in going out on the road.
MS: And doing the big shows & festivals?
DC: Yeah. And of course it was my old mates the Scorps. So we went out as a co-headliner, and both of us wished we’d agreed to go longer. We did 2 months of great shows. And then I actually went out for 2 months and I came home 9 months later. So, you can’t force people to enjoy what you’re doing. (David’s laughing a bit)
4: We at
DC: There’s an awful lot. (David chuckles) What happened you had the phenomenon that was MTV, it created ahh, well it saved me 5 years of hard roadwork. You know, basically within a matter of months I was playing to 15,000 people. I’d gone out special guesting with Motley Crue and I was selling more t-shirts and more records with them. So, after a few months of that, we bailed and jumped on our own headline tour which was great. But the circumstance is, when you have that incredible monster that MTV was, it was creating a vehicle for bands with no live experience what-so-ever, but who actually practiced in front of the mirror in their bedroom (David’s still laughing) and the mirror was replaced by a camera. You know, those guys, it was entirely natural for them, to make videos. And to look like contenders, whether they could play or not.
MS: Like going from a Hollywood club with 500 people to…arenas.
DC: Well a lot of those artists could play, but
5: Speaking of music, what do you think or like about rap music?
DC: I liked the beginning of it. I like the more poetry based, I’m a big fan of poetry. And I’m a HUGE fan, of what one would call, well I would call it from my generation black music but it’s apparently politically incorrect. But African American blues, soul, jazz, was HUGELY profoundly influential on who I am, and what I do, and continues to be. I love DeAngelo, some of that stuff, he harnesses
6: What do you think of American Idol?
DC: I have never seen it, it blows my mind that it kicked the Grammy’s ass, and apparently it’s kicking the Olympics ass.
MS: Well like you said, people practice in mirrors, and now they’re on TV in
front of millions.
DC: Well, I never understood the Jerry Springer success so go figure.
MS: Well now the mirror singers are judged live on TV and awarded for talent.
DC: It’s a sink or swim scenario. Actually I’m invited to participate in those things but who am I to turn around and say that you deserve to do this, or you don’t?
MS: As a celebrity judge so to speak?
DC: Yeah. I think it’s ahh, there’s no way that I could turn around and publicly…(pauses) you know I saw recently I ‘m a big fan of John Stewart and the Daily Show.
DC: And he had Randy Jackson on who I believe is one of the judges there?
MS: Yes and he was an A&R guy at
DC: Is it the same guy from the Jackson 5?
MS: No. (laughing)
DC: Oh it isn’t? Oh okay, well than I can talk ill of him then.
MS: (laughter erupts)
DC: You know Stewart said quite appropriately, we can understand you turning around and saying you haven’t got a chance, but do you want to destroy their soul in front of a huge National audience?
MS: Tens of millions.
DC: That to me is totally bad karma brother.
7: Speaking of touring & bad karma, who were the bands you enjoyed touring with most, and who were just arrogant and a pain in the ass to deal with? Who did you think I’d like to punch this guy in his face rather than play another show with him?
DC: I’ve never really been in that situation. If something like that happened, I’d just bail. Or I’d kick them off the tour. You know I’ve never really been in that circumstance, I don’t tolerate that from people around me, or people who are involved. You know, if we had some problems with opening acts, we’d just tell them to go.
MS: A foot in the pants right?
DC: All you have to do is look at any situation like that as you would in your private life. Is somebody getting out of line? What do you do, do you let them do this, or do you change it? That’s the analogy I always use. And I’ve got a big foot too!
8: What about your guitar players. You’ve played with many great guys. You’ve always surrounded yourself with these A list guys like
DC: And let’s not forget Ritchie Blackmore, Tommy Bolan & Jimmy Page!
DC: The only two missing are Jeff Beck and Edward Van Halen!
MS: Right. They are the best of the best.
DC: They are all extensions of who I am, as I said, a HUGE influence on me was how Jimi Hendrix tied the blues, rock, soul, you know into one fantastic package! He had a profound affect on my life you know. At that time, I was a working class kid who wanted to be an artist, a painter, when I saw Hendrix that just changed the whole ballgame. And when I actually saw Hendrix perform live, I went, ahh-ahh, I’ll just concentrate on signing. I was only about 14-15, but it was just a breath taking experience. So working with guitarists is just that natural extension, of me wanting to, to be able to,, I’m a domestic guitar God. (laughing) So, I need someone to take my 3 chord genius songs
and put them on another level.
Old Skool pics of David during the early Deep Purple years!
9: Okay let’s talk high and low points. You’ve had a career spanning 30+ years, what sticks out as the pinnacle and when was the day you woke up and said what the hell has happened?
DC: Today is the pinnacle, yesterday was the pinnacle. I learn from the past, I don’t live in it. But actually I still live FROM it a great deal. But quite honestly the highs may be disappointing the SLUDGERS ahh, are the birth of my children. You know, my marriage working – this one you know. And finding this partner. Umm, having a great new band, the new tour and a successful DVD out there. All these things…I’m high on now. Right now. And I’ll feel the same tomorrow.
10: We do a thing called word association. We mention a name, and you
give us the first thing that pops into your head.
Ritchie Blackmore = Extraordinary influence
John Sykes = Disappointing that from such success, we have such distance
Gene Simmons = I have absolutely no comment
Steve Vai = A good friend, an extraordinary, the Paganini of guitar
Tawny Kitaen = No comment
Jimmy Page = One of my closest dearest friends, it was an honor and a privilege to know and work with him
David with Jimmy Page!
Tommy Aldridge = Tommy Aldridge is the tits!
MS: He’s an octopus! He as at least 8 arms!
DC: Have you seen the DVD yet?
MS: No, cause we just got your package.
DC: We caught his solo, we worked with, you know one of the reasons I committed to making a DVD was the director is a guy called Hamish Hamilton. Who is the pinnacle of those kind of guys. He does U2, Beyonce, you know the Stones, all the Brit awards, and the guy is like the top of the tree. And he’s caught Tommy’s solo better than I have ever seen it.
MS: Last one for word association, Axl Rose.
DC: Where is he?
MS: I think a lot of people are asking that?
DC: You know he came in – like a fireworks display.
11: Okay we at Metal Sludge do a thing called Rate a vocalist.
DC: (Laughing out loud)
MS: There are many great vocalists…
DC: What is this, your Metal Sludge Idol?
MS: Well, exactly. We ask you on a scale of 1-10, some guys are great and some are not so great.
Ronnie James Dio = a Great singer
MS: 1 to 10?
DC: Oh no, no, no, I’m not grading that stuff.
MS: No numbers?
DC: No, but he’s a great singer.
Glen Hughes = Excellent singer.
Coverdale & Glen Hughes somewhere in England inthe 70′s!
Bret Michaels = ahh, (pauses) he pulled it off.
Vince Neil = Pulls it off.
Ian Gillan = Pulls it off.
Klaus Meine = Ah yes, Klaus is a good one.
Joe Lynn Turner = you know, all good ones.
Sebastian Bach = yeah, very good, yes
DC: Is he still singing by the way or is he a TV personality?
MS: He’s done some solo stuff.
DC: Cause Skid Row were playing locally recently and I didn’t know whether Sebastian
was in or not.
MS: No, he isn’t in the band, and hasn’t been for a few years. And that’s a shame because they need each other.
MS: Let’s do the last of David Coverdale…
DC: (laughing) The last of what?
The last hotel you woke up in = Oh, okay, well, the Doug Aldrich residence.
MS: okay (both laughing)
Last time you ate MacDonald’s = I’ve never eaten MacDonald’s. Well actually, probably, maybe in a studio in
Last famous person you shook hands with = Ohh, ahh, okay, Cal Ripken.
(David’s getting excited and seems to be enjoying more of the interview as
we go along)
12: So you’re a baseball fan?
DC: Well no, we were just doing a radio show together. But actually I thanked him for signing my sons’ balls. (more laughter)
Last time you lost your voice = Umm, (long pause) a sinus infection in Astonia.
MS: Was that during the “Still of the night” tour?
DC: Yeah, well it wasn’t really me losing my voice, but it was compromised by a…(pause) since I stopped smoking and boozing my voice is extraordinarily powerful.
MS: That’s good to hear.
Last time you ate at the Rainbow in
MS: You’ve been there right?
DC: The first time I was there was with Page, that must have been, what ’93?
Last time you got sick from drinking = The night before starting the “Slide it in” album. (David’s laughing again)
Last time you cried = actually recently, at my nieces wedding in
MS: How old is your little boy?
(David is beaming with pride)
MS: Wow, great. I just became a Father in the recent few years and it means everything to me.
MS: It’s the light of my life.
DC: Then you understand what I’m saying. I’ve sold 70 million records and my kids definitely… (pause) my daughter is just about to make me a Grandfather again and I
MS: That’s a great feeling.
DC: My daughter was born when I was making the first Whitesnake album. So she’s what,
28 this year? So Whitesnake is 28 years old, and it’s easy for me to gauge. And I have a stunning Grand daughter, and about to take delivery of another Grand daughter in 2 or 3 weeks time.
David & Tawney Kitaen in happier times!
13: How do you think the Internet has affected the music industry?
DC: Oh, HUGE! Yeah, it’s unbelievable and I love it. I mean that’s where, you know I can’t watch the propaganda that masquerades as American news; I have to get mine from the Internet. Umm, so you can pretty much find anything if you’re discerning. I don’t abuse it, obviously it’s something that can be abused, but that’s pretty much any kind of cultural giant, or phenomena in our society. What I was hoping it would do, was high-light the music business, and that they should be more A&R. Because that’s obviously, you understand people wanting to get something for free, when it’s so bloody expensive.
MS: When you say huge, you mean in a positive way? Good or bad?
DC: However you use it. I use mine in a positive way.
DC: The whole dream is to use it in a positive way, but a lot of people use it, you know they hide behind ahh, pseudonyms or whatever. And that’s not only for protection.
14: I remember buying “Slide it in” for $ 5.99 on Vinyl in 1983 or whatever, but now a CD that’s a third of the plastic, and a third of the paper, and a third of the size, costs $ 15.00 or $ 18.00 dollars. I don’t understand? Is this inflation or gauging?
DC: I think if the majors focused on, you know got people involved who actually cared for music, and did
David & Deep Purple session mid 70′s
15: Who are you a fan of? Of all the people you’ve met, you’ve rubbed shoulders with
that you’d like to?
DC: of course I loved Hendrix, but Idon’t know whether I would have been able to articulate anything, you know, he was so huge to me. You got to remember that when I joined Deep Purple, I was welcome, and people were familiar with me. Like, you know I was meeting Jeff Beck, who I was just, and continue to be in awe of. But it was: “David how you doing?” like I was one of them. So, I mean that was phenomenal of that experience. So normally what you would say, when I met Magic Johnson, aww I’m a big fan of yours, hey man, you too.
I love ya, all that stuff. So, you just don’t know where to go. How would I be with Mozart? (laughing)
MS: Yes but…
DC: Most of the people who were profoundly influential on me…Unfortunately…(Pauses).
(we’re thinking he was going to say have passed on)
DC: Dylan. I met Bob Dylan once. And he was actually dating a girl friend of mine. And I use to live at the Modrian Hotel in
MS: On Sunset?
DC: Yeah, So she calls me up, and says oh, “I’m going to bring Bob by for a drink.” Because she knew I was a HUGE fan. So I’m going “oh Fuck!” So, I go down to the bar, it’s very quiet, and he was sitting there with that straw hat, the feathery hat. Remember?
DC: And I’m sitting down there, and said hi, and he’s very, very quiet of course. And I said can I get you a drink? And he went, yeah, I’ll have a grass hopper. (David bursts out laughing)
MS: That’s like
DC: Yeah, ittle green liquor. with (in audible) in it. (more laughter)
MS: Exactly. That’s what you give
DC: Yeah. I was expecting gimme some Jack – no rock please!
DC: Laughter continues.
16 : What about your mic & stand. You use to throw that all over the place, spins, etc. Do you still do all that stuff today live?
DC: Yea, but unfortunately on the DVD I’ve got tendonitis. On that actual tour (laughter) so it was object agony to do that stuff. So on the actual DVD I’m doing more microphone stuff, I had to kind of re-invent what I did. Literally my right arm was relatively useless.
17: So you have had injuries from that type of stuff with your mic stand?
Did you ever catch it in the eye or face?
DC: All of my injuries have been sporting. I’ve herniated; I lost an inch and a half by losing the smallest disc in my back that was from bending and rotating for many years. Umm, big knee stuff, ankle, all sports injuries from basically performing. You know because basically I perform as a sportsman would do. For instance right now, I’m watching the Olympics; I’m a huge fan, as is my wife. And we watched the moguls last night, and I’m going my God – my knees were killing me just watching.
MS: I know, their legs must just be jacked after that.
DC: Oh, the body must just be screaming.
18: What was your single largest pay check you ever received for being the rock n’ roll super star that you are?
DC: Too embarrassing to tell you. But I did pay, and also sign a check for TWO MILLION dollars tax!
19: Too embarrassed to tell, but you did pay a 2 million dollars to the tax man?
DC: On one check, yeah!
20: Last question David, did you ever log onto Metal Sludge?
DC: No but I will, and I know where you live so make it nice! (laughing)
MS: Thank you very much for your time David!
DC: No thank you
A super cool guy, and a legend for sure! We extend a huge thanks to all at Universal, Davids management, and of course Mr. Coverdale himself.
For more info go visit www.WhiteSnake.com
In the Sludge of the Night