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David Coverdale

Coverdale singing with Whitesnake, 2006
Photo: Raúl Ranz
Background information
Born 22 September 1951 (1951-09-22) (age 58)
Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, England
Genres Hard rock, blues-rock, heavy metal
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, harmonica, percussion
Years active 1973–present
Associated acts Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Coverdale and Page
Website Official Whitesnake Website

David Coverdale (born 22 September 1951 in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire) is an English rock vocalist most famous for his work with the English hard rock band Deep Purple, and his later band Whitesnake.[1]




David Coverdale was born into a family that supported artistic expression. Upon reaching adulthood, he took up the guitar, and was briefly a student at Middlesbrough Art College. As an aspiring musician, he was largely unknown, playing in various anonymous teenage bands, living in Saltburn-by-the-Sea and working in a trendy clothes shop called Gentry in Redcar, Teesside.

Deep Purple

Main article: Deep Purple

When Coverdale saw an advertisement in a 1973 copy of Melody Maker to audition as a vocalist for a band, he didn't realise until he arrived that the band was the famous hard rock band, Deep Purple, whose vocalist Ian Gillan had given notice to leave the band. Coverdale had fronted a local group called Government, which had supported Deep Purple, and so both he and the band were familiar with one another, and he was admitted into the band, with bassist Glenn Hughes adding his own vocals as well. In April 1974, Coverdale and Deep Purple performed to over 200,000 music fans in his first trip to America at the California Jam. He also sang on Jon Lord's Windows and Roger Glover's Butterfly Ball. The band put out the album Burn, it sold over a million albums, reaching double platinum status in both the United States and the UK, in 1974, followed by Stormbringer, the same year, which ranked at gold album status in both locations. However, their guitar player, Ritchie Blackmore left over creative differences in the band's sound, which had been experimenting with funk, although rather than disbanding, Coverdale recruited guitarist Tommy Bolin (of Billy Cobham fame) and the band released 1975's Come Taste the Band. This last album was again less commercially successful, reaching only silver status in sales, and the band broke up a year later in March 1976.[1]


Main article: Whitesnake

Coverdale soon formed Whitesnake and during the late seventies and early eighties, with ever changing line-ups, recorded a series of well-received blues-rock albums. With ex-Deep Purple founders Jon Lord followed by Ian Paice joining in 1979, Whitesnake worked hard to become international superstars. According to British heavy metal magazine Kerrang!, in 1982, Coverdale was considered for the vocalist position with Black Sabbath following the departure of Ronnie James Dio. Coverdale declined.

Whitesnake gained large popularity in the UK, Europe, and Asia but North American success remained elusive. In 1984, the album Slide It In dented the US charts but not enough to be considered a success. In time for the US release of Slide It In David Coverdale made a calculated attempt in updating Whitesnake's sound and look by recruiting guitarist John Sykes. Sykes brought a more contemporary, aggressive guitar sound with him and had stage manners to match. In 1985 Sykes and Coverdale started working on new songs for the next album but Coverdale soon contracted a sinus infection that made recording close to impossible for much of 1986. Coverdale eventually recovered and recordings were continued but before their upcoming self-titled album was fully recorded and released, Sykes and the rest of the recording band had parted company.

The split with Sykes was 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 the band altogether. During 1987 and 1988, North America was finally won with the multi-platinum self-titled Whitesnake album, co-written for the most part with John Sykes.

The 1987 album has sold 8 times platinum since its release, propelled by hit singles such as "Here I Go Again." Through the late 80s and early 90s, caught in the "hair-band" era, Coverdale kept Whitesnake going with great success and with changing lineups until the end of 1991. It is no secret that Coverdale wanted out of the business at that point. He'd grown uncomfortable with the entity he then felt Whitesnake had become and admits that he got "caught up in it". In a candid period interview, Coverdale sums it up in one sentence:

"It got louder and louder, and so did I, to the point now where I have to get dressed up as a "girly man" and tease ones questionable bangs (or hair) and it's all getting a bit... boring."

Coverdale at the Monsters of Rock festival in 1990; during the "hair band" era

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 the 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.

The hiatus did not last long. In the early spring of 1991, a collaboration was set up with Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame. This collaboration resulted in the Coverdale-Page album released in March 1993. Both parties have said that the collaboration revitalized them both on many levels. Although well received by critics, the album soon fell off the charts and a US tour had to be cancelled due to slow ticket sales and after only a limited Japanese tour, Coverdale and Page parted ways. In part, the problem has been the comparison to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame who initially fronted the band with Jimmy Page as vocalist in the band. Some of their audience criticized him, feeling he was merely a Plant clone.[1]

In 1994, Whitesnake went on the road again in support of a Greatest Hits compilation. Citing weak sales, Geffen Records elected not to renew Whitesnake's recording contract, and Whitesnake was again put on ice.

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 2005 tour at the legendary Carling 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. Coverdale recently (2006) had a song written about him by Australian independent band The Fauves. The song alludes to buying one of his albums at a gas station and driving through the night listening to it.[citation needed]

In 2008, Coverdale, with the new Whitesnake line-up, 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 Anniversary Tour.

Band membership

Coverdale, singing with Whitesnake in Ljubljana, Slovenia in Summer 2006

In 2008 whitesnake did a world tour.

David Coverdale has been the lead vocalist for Deep Purple as well as four various stints in Whitesnake. In addition, he has been the vocalist for the following bands:

  • The Government (1968-1972)
  • Fabulosa Brothers (1972-73)
  • Deep Purple (1973-1976)
  • Solo (1976-77; 1999-2002)
  • Whitesnake (1978-1991; 1994; 1997-98; 2002-present)
  • Coverdale/Page (1992-93)

Personal life

David Coverdale was first married in 1974 to Julia, and their daughter Jessica was born in 1978. Coverdale's second marriage was to actress Tawny Kitaen, from 17 February 1989 until their divorce 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 been married to Cindy, an author with works such as The Food That Rocks. They have a son, Jasper (b. 1996). Coverdale is also a grandfather to his daughter Jessica's two children, Georgina and Mathilda.[citation needed]

On 1 March 2007, Coverdale became a U.S. citizen, in a ceremony in Reno, and now holds dual US/UK citizenship. He has lived near Lake Tahoe for more than 20 years.[2]


Over his 30 year career, Coverdale has worked with many of rock music's most accomplished guitarists:


Mural depicting Coverdale on the wall of an apartment block in Kavarna, "the rock capital of Bulgaria"

With Deep Purple


With Whitesnake

With Coverdale/Page


  • Butterfly Ball - Behind The Smile (voice)
  • Steve Vai - song "For The Love Of God" (voice at the end)
  • Bernie Marsden - And About Time Too (vocals on "Who's Fooling Who (live)" -bonus track on CD)


External links

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