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Whitesnake’s David Coverdale: ‘This Could Be a Farewell to the Big Rock Stuff’

Ash Newell

David Coverdale is revisiting his time with Deep Purple on the upcoming Whitesnake release, The Purple Albumwhich is due in stores May 19.

In a press release about the record, Coverdale summarized the experience, saying that, “Even though we’re playing songs I recorded with Purple over 40 years ago, it has all the classic Whitesnake elements people who support us have come to expect. I thought it would be cool to go out, as it were, the way I came in to this music business.”

There’s a feeling of finality attached to Coverdale’s words, and during a recent conversation with Ultimate Classic Rock, he expanded on his thoughts.

“Well, think about it, from way before Deep Purple, I’ve challenged myself with songwriting, performances, singing and you know, as you get older, those challenges become a little more challenging,” Coverdale says with a chuckle. “To be honest, I’m not sure, as I discussed with my wife, that I have anything left to prove. Certainly not to myself. You know, with [former Whitesnake guitarist] Doug [Aldrich], the last 10 years, we wrote two incredibly fresh, vibrant and, I feel, Whitesnake-relevant [albums], with songs way up there with the ‘Here I Go Again’s and ‘Still of the Night’s and ‘Is This Love’s.”

He says he had a “super-creative relationship with Aldrich. “Either one of those albums would have been fine for me to wave a fond farewell to people,” he points out. “In fact, on Forevermore [released in 2011], I wrote a song called ‘Fare Thee Well,’ you know? And then, f—, I ended up doing it again! But it feels to me that the kind of huge rock stuff that I do, I’m going to have to really gauge how I do on this forthcoming world tour. So I’m not making any decisions, but my feeling is that this could be, as I said in the statement, a farewell to the big rock stuff.”

It’s surprising to hear, but Coverdale explains. “Well, you know, I’m 64 in September, brother! You know, you can only tune ‘Still of the Night’ down so far,” he says with a big laugh. “So I have to be able to do my thing and know it is working. I don’t want to be intimidated about going on stage. And you know, that’s one of the reasons I’m working out so hard to build the stamina and stuff to be able to deliver.

“I mean, a Whitesnake show on its own is significantly challenging enough and then you throw in these muscular motherf—ing songs from Deep Purple, and it’s a whole new ballgame,” he continues. “I mean, back in the day when I was the young Tarzan frontman with Purple, we did four or five songs in over three hours. You know, a 20-minute guitar solo, I’d zip off for a cigarette or a blowjob and I’d come back on and do another verse, and then there’d be a 20 minute organ solo or bass solo or ‘Georgia on My Mind.’ It was really almost a no-brainer.”

With Whitesnake, he says, “it’s an action-packed chest-beating set, you know? The big bonus on this, to my utter delight, is that I have more gifted singers in this lineup than we’ve ever had before. So it’s not going to be just a great, powerful rock band, it’s going to have huge singalong choruses for the Whitesnake choir. It’s very exciting.”

Coverdale is proud of what he and the members of the band accomplish on The Purple Album, which he describes as something that felt like he was “coming full-circle, a feeling of completion.” “I’m sitting there and reconnecting with the past in the most positive way, sitting next to [guitarists] Reb [Beach] or Joel [Hoekstra], doing the solo on ‘Burn’ and going, ‘F—, I sat next to Ritchie Blackmore doing the original solo,” he recalls. “It was very important to me to honor the memory of this.

“This isn’t a flippant project,” Coverdale continues. “I don’t do that stuff. But particularly the sense of responsibility that I felt in my heart to do right by these things, by my colleagues and my admiration — every one of my guys said, ‘F—, these songs could have been written yesterday.’ You know, it was a testament to how great we were.”

Whitesnake’s world tour supporting The Purple Album will begin with U.S. dates in late May and runs through the end of summer. The band will then head to Europe for additional shows beginning in November.

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