The Story of Whitesnakes Career Defining Album 1987

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30 Years ago to this very day an album was released which gargantuan sound could only be matched by its massive global sounds. White snake 1987 ( or simply whitesnake in the USA) featured arguably some of the finest rock cuts since the previous year’s Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi and turned a pretty decent British based blues rock band to the biggest band on the planet. Here is the story of its incarnation, its production and life after the record and I hope you enjoy the story of this classic album.

After a triumphant show at the legendary monsters of Rock Festival in Brazil in 1985 things went downhill quick for Whitesnake singer Dave Coverdale. Cozy Powell, the charismatic powerhouse drummer quit and other members one by one faded away leaving only Dave, Neil Murray (Bass) and guitarist John Sykes. John was an exemplary guitar player no doubt but also an excellent songwriter and vocalist in his own right. Dave was considering quitting the band altogether. Whilst they had achieved moderate success in the UK and Japan, they had failed to crack the American market and any decent rock band worth their weight in salt back they really had to be pushing units in the USA to truly matter. If it wasn’t for contractual agreements with their new label Geffen and some enthusiastic record executives then perhaps this album wouldn’t have ever been made. Dave relented and decided the record needed to be made.

Writing for the record started in 1985 in France and it was soon apparent by Dave and John that they was onto something special. With the help of bass player Neil Murray they finished the arrangements and headed to Canada to record the record, stopping on the way in Los Angeles to recruit veteran drummer Aynsley Dunbar. The recording was plagued by problems especially for Dave who had to have an operation for sinus problems. After a long year and with help from Don Airy on keyboards and the patience of producers Mike Stone and Keith Olsen the record was finally finished late 1986.
1987 was released in (yup you’ve guessed it) 1987 but not before in a moment of egotistical madness Mr Coverdale sacked the whole band. The album contained some truly power driven rock classics like “Bad Boys” AND “Give me all your love”. John Sykes truly awesome guitar licks smothered the album while Coverdale had never sung so great. It was a piece of rock/pop crossover wizardry and with songs like the sultry power ballad “Is this Love” brought a whole new audience to the band. Coverdale dipped into his past and re-recorded the earlier Whitesnake minor hit “Here I go again” and with a swish 80’s production and a slight lyric change this time the song reached its true potential by hitting number 1 on the Billboard 100 in America.

The success of the album was propelled by some truly iconic videos featuring Dave’s then girlfriend Tawny Kitaen rolling around on cars, rolling around on stage, get the idea. The viewers loved them and with the videos on heavy rotation the album sold in its millions. Dave recruited some great musicians like future Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, Tommy Aldridge on Drums and Rudy Sarzo on Bass not forgetting Adrian Vandenberg ( who had actually played on the solo to “Here I go Again” but the unsung hero of 1987 surely has to be John Sykes who never got a chance to tour his co written songs.
Whitesnake enjoyed further successes but by the time “Slip of The Tongue” was released in 1989, music buyers tastes (no pun intended) had begin to change and slowly the bands star waned, paving the way for bands like Guns N Roses and Skid Row. Whilst Whitesnake never hit the dizzy heights of their 80’s glory days again 1987 still stands testament as one of the all time classic rock records. As I write this blog the album is spinning and as I finish this final paragraph I feel the need to play it at least one more time......Here I go again.

Matt Young

Published by Matt Young in 80s Music