Friday, 12 April 2013

Who does David Coverdale think he is?

Any rock and roll fan will tell you that Whitesnake and Deep Purple were two of the most important, influential and downright awesome bands that have ever lived. A certain Mr David Coverdale was lucky enough to be a member of both of those bands: he replaced Ian Gillan in Deep Purple in 1973, and then launched Whitesnake in 1978. Over the years, Coverdale has had the opportunity to work with many of the most amazing musicians who have ever lived, between the two groups: Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, John Sykes, Don Airey, Adrian Vandenburg, Tommy Bolin, Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, Vivian Campbell, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge. Not a bad list, and I'm probably missing some. But Coverdale never really had anything nice to say about all these greats, especially the guitarists he worked with.
     Before I go any farther, I've got to emphasize that one of my pet peeves are musicians who badmouth other musicians. I find it trashy and low-class to the extreme, because being a musician is not easy, and the people who should understand that better than anybody else should be other musicians. They're like members of an extensive family to me, and when I hear one musician saying another one is no good, or just an asshole, I really resent that. Maybe they're completely right in what they're saying, but still, it's just a very rude thing for one musician to go around trashing other ones.
     My incriminating piece of information was the February 1990 edition of Guitar For The Practicing Musician magazine, in which David Coverdale talks about all the guitarists he had worked with to date. All he did was bitch and whine and bitch and whine some more: all in all, it was an infuriating article. First he talked about how much he hated working with Ritchie Blackmore, and while it's known that people have conflicting opinions of Blackmore (view my previous post, Ritchie Blackmore: The Great Debate) it cannot be denied that if nothing else, he was a fabulous musician. Not once did Coverdale say anything resembling that. He just talked about how if Blackmore wasn't such a perfectionist, he would have been a better musician. I disagree strongly- Blackmore's constant search to be the best musician he could possibly be was what made him so great. And for Coverdale to be so outright rude to the man who gave him his chance in the rock and roll industry and made him what he was... I lost a lot of respect for Coverdale when I read this.
     But what he said next was even worse. He started going after Tommy Bolin too. I for one, am a huge fan of Tommy Bolin. I don't think he was right for Deep Purple, but I love his playing. Coverdale says he did too, but then started talking about how he could have been better if it wasn't for the drugs. Coverdale had no  business making that comment- the drugs were Bolin's own business, and they cost him his life far too soon. And for all we know, without the drugs, it's possible that his music skills wouldn't have been what they were. A lot of musicians make their best music under the influence of drugs, and it was sheer ignorance and rudeness, for Coverdale to say that.
     He said fairly nice things personality wise about the early guitarists from Whitesnake, but never once did he say they were good musicians or made any statements about their musical fortes. Just talked about what great guys they were.
     Then it got really bad... Dave started talking about John Sykes like he was some dumb, immature kid who was selfish and hung up on himself, who wasted money in the studio and ultimately just wasn't a good enough guitar player for Whitesnake. I understand that personality clashes do happen sometimes, and that it's possible for two great guys to just not get along very well, like Don Dokken and George Lynch for example. But here I'm inclined to say that Coverdale was the one at wrong here, especially considering the relationships he had with his previous guitarists. Again, Coverdale had not much to say about what kind of a musician John was, and makes it sound like Sykes only gained skill once he had taken him under his wing. As a professional musician in a professional musician's magazine, Coverdale should have stuck to the facts about the music instead of letting his opinions be prejudiced by his bad personal experiences with his musicians.
     Vivian Campbell and Adrian Vandenberg were the next two in Whitesnake. Viv left early cause, according to Coverdale, he "brought bad vibes into the band". Yeah, leave it to Coverdale to go saying that Campbell was the one who made the atmosphere more tense. Again, I'm willing to believe that sometimes two good people just don't get along, but we've been seeing quite a bit about that lately and really, how many personality clashes can you have? At press time, Vandenberg was still  member of Whitesnake, so what Coverdale had to say about him was mainly positive. Not very encouraging, but positive. There was a little more gushing going on over Steve Vai, which I did appreciate, because it was nice to see Coverdale being a little bit more enthusiastic about one of the many great musicians he worked with.
     Vandenberg continued to work with Coverdale and Whitesnake on and off during the 90s, but basically, after the great Slip of the Tongue album in 1989, Coverdale fired the band while on one of his massive ego trips. I guess he couldn't stand not being the best looking member of the group any longer... Since then, he has hired mainly groups of faceless- very talented, but faceless- musicians, and hasn't really produced anything really worth listening to. Maybe if Coverdale had treated his guitarists a little more respectfully, and was a little more secure in his own skin, he wouldn't have reacted the way he did to his group's fame, but sadly, that was the way it went, and can't be changed now. If he hadn't been such a prick, Whitesnake might even still have been making really great music into the 90s and maybe up until today. But no- he just couldn't work with the greats anymore the day it all became about him...
     Normally I would put a picture of David Coverdale at the bottom of the page here, which is standard of my writings, but I'm a little tired of hearing about him right now, so here's a picture of the gorgeous Adrian Vandenberg instead. Ha. Enjoy!
(And for the record, I still absolutely love Coverdale for his music.)


  1. , maybe the questions he was asked were put in such a way by the interviewer that it focussed on the negatives. To be honest Coverdale was not lucky to be in Whitesnake since he formed it and the whole band would not exist but for him and his ability to seek out and engage some of the best musicians to work with.
    Deep Purple was not Blackmore's band Paice and Lord were the original core of it and Coverdale reaped them by inviting them to join Whitesnake many people don't have a good word to say about Blackmore why don't you read Gillans bio before singling out David Coverdale.
    Tommy Bolin was the reason I started playing guitar and tell me then if he had not been so out of control with his habit how would he have not had a better life and better recognition.
    From my own perspective I eat some weed and could not play a note on my guitar for the whole trip so don't give the false impression to people that drugs make good music , you can be a great guitarist but if your a hard core junkie your likely to be a great waste. Bolan honed his skills before he became a junkie so its obvious he would have been great regardless of drugs.
    If Coverdale treats guitarists bad why did Page do a whole album with him tbh neither of us know what went on in Whitesnake purple etc but Coverdale visions is what made Whitesnake apart from Vai how many of them have eclipsed their stay in Whitesnake

  2. who are you to dictate how musicians talk about each other journalists don't want to know about musicians getting on whether you like it or not thrash talk sells , its also human nature for band members to slag each other of on occasion isn't it healthier that way then to be two faced and if you use the analogy of the family families are more likely to back bite about one another then they would a stranger familiarity often breads contempt its human nature , why take a crack at Coverdale for letting off steam.
    He could have wasted his talent like Glen Hughes(ok he made one great record post Purple) and Bolan but as far as I know he has never been into drugs in a desutrive way so that kinda makes your point redundant about creativity and drug abuse being linked also you met Sykes for about five minutes dosent mean you know what he's like to work with and most people who met a fan would want to be polite in that context as they are being adored for their work. I don't know Coverdale but from what I know I respect what he's done in music and how he worked hard to be more then just the bloke who replaced Gillan for three albums.
    All I can say the fact that he has not been lured back for a MK3 reunion at any point and has long ago moved on from Purple suggests that he should be admired considering that he could have ended his days like Gillan singing the same old Purple hits to a bunch of geritrcis and trading of past glories.
    Their must be a reason why Whitesnakes music seems to find more fans as the years go by where as in the main Purple era Blackmoore sounds more and more dated and can be replicated by most half sober pup rocks bands

  3. "Coverdale says he did too, but then started talking about how he could have been better if it wasn't for the drugs. Coverdale had no business making that comment- the drugs were Bolin's own business, and they cost him his life far too soon. And for all we know, without the drugs, it's possible that his music skills wouldn't have been what they were. A lot of musicians make their best music under the influence of drugs, and it was sheer ignorance and rudeness, for Coverdale to say that."

    An addiction is destructive for the addicted and people around him. The band gets lower priority, the music gets lower priority and so on. They're often late and you can't trust them. I know that from experience. Coverdale is completely correct in criticizing such behavior, as would any sensible person do. It's not as if the drugs were a well kept secret anyway.

  4. This is the most idiotic, childish tirade I've had the displeasure of reading in quite some time.

  5. Bolin was hit hard by drugs. I dont remember the specifics but his hand was wasted asleep / numb at one show and I guarantee however high we was the stress was enormous and the sound of a numb hand amature. IN the end death shows he needed help . Santana even said the same BS in 2016. If you need drugs to get creative you need a new occupation

    1. *Santana implied drugs make you more creative