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Music / Whitesnake

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The "classic" lineup, 1987-88 (l-r): Tommy Aldridge (drums), Rudy Sarzo (bass), Vivian Campbell (guitar), David Coverdale (vocals), Adrian Vandenburg (guitar)

About three days later, my landlord told me that I wasn't allowed to play "Here I Go Again," by Whitesnake at full volume at 3 AM every morning. I politely said, "Well, what the hell time of day can I blast Whitesnake?!"

I called Derek back and asked if he liked Whitesnake. He said he didn't, but I assumed he was lying. I mean, who the hell doesn't like Whitesnake?
Mat Stevens, "House of Shadows"

Whitesnake is a hard rock band hailing from England that was formed in 1977.

The current members of the band are:

  • David Coverdale - lead vocals (1976–82, 1982–91, 1994, 1997–98, 2002–present)
  • Joel Hoekstra - guitars (2014–present)
  • Reb Beach (who splits his time between this band and Winger) - guitars (2002–present)
  • Michael Devin - bass (2010–present)
  • Michele Luppi - keyboards (2015–present)
  • Tommy Aldridge - drums (1987-1991, 2002-2007, 2013-present)

The so-called "classic" lineup, from the height of the band's popularity in the late '80s (and the lineup most people likely invoke when they think of the band) is pictured above. As it turns out, this exact lineup never recorded an album together; Coverdale had fired the previous lineup (John Sykes on guitar, Niel Murray on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums) after completing the recording of their eponymous 1987 album, and when the album became a smash success, Coverdale assembled a new group of musicians to go out on tour. After the tour, Vivian Campbell left the band, and Adrian Vandenburg injured his hand during rehearsals for the next album, necessitating the involvement of Steve Vai.

The band started in North Yorkshire, England. The style was primarily blues rock (or progressive R&B as they liked to call it) for quite a while. They were often compared to Deep Purple— David Coverdale being formerly of that band, and long-running Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ian Paice being in the first few lineups. After Moody was replaced with a guitarist from Thin Lizzy, the band moved into playing a more commercially driven, slick sort of hard rock while never quite leaving their heavy metal roots behind.

Some of their most famous songs are:

Tropes related to the band:

  • Cover Album: The Purple Album, which features re-recorded Coverdale-era Deep Purple songs.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The video for "Slow an' Easy" features David Coverdale giving a woman a literal pearl necklace.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: "Here I Go Again", "Love Ain't No Stranger" and "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City".
  • The Drifter: "Here I Go Again"
  • Genre Shift: The group gradually drifted from classic heavy metal heavily influenced by Blues Rock to straightforwards commercial Hard Rock as the decades went on.
  • Hair Metal: The band picked up this tag and it stuck, if only by association. David Coverdale never liked it that his band was labeled as such and thus lumped together with others that were declared as putting style over substance, especially given how much effort he and his band members put into their songwriting and technical skill. This issue can be a Berserk Button for fans.
  • Heavy Meta: "Children of the Night"
  • Hood Ornament Hottie: In the videos. Bowling for Soup's "1985" makes a reference to it:
    She was gonna be an actress, she was gonna be a star
    She was gonna shake her ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car
  • I Am the Band: Infamously, Coverdale fired all his band members who played on their best-selling album Whitesnake after the album's sessions finished. According to one contemporary interview, Coverdale meant it to be only a temporary layoff — the band was in financial hardship at the time, and he was hoping to Put The Band Back Together at a later time.
  • Intercourse with You: "Slide It In" is one of the most blatant versions of this trope you'll ever have, with lyrics such as "I'm gonna Slide It In, right to the top! Slide It In, ain't never gonna stop." Also "Still of the Night" and "Slow an' Easy" (a tricky one seeing as, despite the steamy music, the lyrics are mostly oblique).
  • Love Hurts:
    • "Fool For Your Loving" gives us "I gave my heart, and you tore it apart, oh, baby, you done me wrong."
    • "Now You're Gone" has particularly dark lyrics, which are matched up against guitar virtuoso Steve Vai's work: "There's an emptiness closing around me- an' I can't go on, when all I have left is the memory".
  • Male Gaze: Many of their videos feature this.
  • New Sound Album: Saints and Sinners began their move away from blues-rock towards a more hard rock style. The 1987 self-titled album confirmed them as being a Hair Metal-esque band.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "Here I Go Again" was first recorded as a blues-rock number in 1982. In 1987, the group re-recorded in an Arena Rock style, and it was this version that hit #1 on the Hot 100. The group re-recorded it a second time in 1987 for radio play; both of the '87 recordings can nowadays be heard on classic rock radio, while the '82 version is essentially forgotten.
    • "Fool For Your Loving", a single from 1980, was rerecorded for their 1989 album, "Slip of the Tongue", and given a much heavier spin, owing much to Steve Vai. It too outperformed the original on the charts.
    • They did one more, "Crying In The Rain", from the early years, re-recorded for their 1987 album.
  • Recycled Lyrics: "Fool for your Loving" (1980) appears in the lyrics of the song "Give me all your love" from their 1987 album. Then again, they recycled the whole song.
  • Revolving Door Band: The Other Wiki has a long list of former members. See how far it went under I Am the Band. Steve Vai was the most famous of the bunch, and the band also featured Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice, in the early years.
  • Silly Love Songs: Aside from "Here I Go Again", basically all of their best known songs are about love and/or feature the word in the title. "Is This Love", "The Deeper The Love", among others.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Believe it or not, Coverdale's a born baritone. That shrill, screechy voice he sings (mostly during his tenure in Deep Purple and the early days of Whitesnake) is has been said to be his way of emulating Robert Plant, a high tenor, which for a naturally deep voiced guy is quite difficult.
  • Spinoff: Arguably, of Deep Purple.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: All but the shortest lived Whitesnake fan will have seen a farewell tour appearance or two.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: Tawny Kitaen often in the 80s videos.
  • Vocal Evolution: David Coverdale post mid-80s is practically a separate vocalist from the Coverdale of Deep Purple and early Whitesnake. He generally sang more within his comfort zone in the early days, giving him a more subtle, much deeper sound compared to the over-the-top howl he is best known for.