In March 1976 David Coverdale contacted ex-Snafu guitarist Micky Moody and asked for his help with a planned solo album. Work began sooner than planned when Deep Purple broke up at the end of a poorly received UK tour. Despite lacking the finance to put a new band together, Coverdale was still able to record the solo album while still under contract to Purple's management. Roger Glover produced and contributed some bass, with Moody on guitar, plus session musicians Lisle Harper on bass and Simon Phillips on drums.

The album ‘Whitesnake', which included some tracks originally written for Deep Purple’s follow-up to ‘Come Taste The Band’, proved an introspective and under-worked collection of material. Even so, the good-time r’n’b title track (co-written with Micky Moody) was to give Coverdale the inspiration for his first group. By early 1977, when it was released into a punk-saturated vacuum, work was already approaching completion on a much superior follow-up. ‘Northwinds’ is regarded as one of Coverdale’s very best, in turn understated and powerful, soulful, and well produced.

(photo: David Coverdale, 1976)

        
              
     

In late 1977 Coverdale was finally in a position to begin putting together a touring band to promote ‘Northwinds’, whose release was held back to coincide. As a result the band was assembled in haste, and with the full knowledge that personnel might later change. Bernie Marsden joined from the ashes of Paice Ashton Lord to compliment Micky Moody and provide a twin lead guitar approach.

Bernie was followed by his ex-Hammer band-mate Neil Murray on bass. In turn Murray roped in David Dowle on drums, and the troublesome keyboard spot was hurriedly filled by Brian Johnstone, who at least brought the desired Hammond sound to the group. Both Dowle and Johnstone had previously been members of Streetwalkers. The band’s debut 'back to the roots' tour (many in cramped intimate UK venues) was chaotically organised, but despite everything proved a triumph. In its aftermath it was decided that with the new band already writing and performing its own material on stage (‘Northwinds’ barely got a look-in), a true vinyl representation of what the new band was about had to be captured as soon as possible. First though, a new keyboard player was required.

(photo: Brian Johnstone and David Coverdale, Back To The Roots Tour, 1978)

     
           
             
  
        
              
     

Brian Johnston had proved unsuitable for Whitesnake’s intense live performances, and Moody’s ex-Snafu colleague Pete Solley was quickly hired for the band’s first recording sessions.

The resulting ‘Snakebite’ EP included the old standard ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)’, which was to become Whitesnake’s signature tune. After a follow-up round of live shows, and with a first group album almost complete, it was decided to replace Solley with Jon Lord, who agreed to join after hearing, and enjoying, the debut EP.

(photo. Back row: David Dowle, Micky Moody, David Coverdale, Neil Murray.
Front row: Pete Solley, Bernie Marsden)

 

     
           
             
  
        
              
        

Jon Lord joined in time to overdub keyboards onto the new album, which was released as ‘Trouble’ in October 1978. It was generally viewed as a disappointment, largely failing to capture the energy which the band put across on stage. This was to become a recurring problem with a lot of the studio output.

The band’s stature in the UK and Europe continued to grow apace however, aided by Lord’s presence, and they ended the year with a headlining show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon (soon to become their second home). The show was recorded, and released in March 1980 (as a single edited album 'Live At Hammersmith') when the Japanese decided that a live album would help the band's first tour there.

A regular Whitesnake occurrence was the latest line-up of the band touring in support of an album recorded by a previous line-up. David Dowle was increasingly viewed as the band’s weak link – being a jazz-rock drummer unsuited to Whitesnake’s heavy r’n’b - and was axed soon after recording the next album.

(photo. Neil Murray, Bernie Marsden, David Coverdale, Micky Moody, David Dowle, Jon Lord)

     
           
             
  
        
              
        

‘Lovehunter’ appeared in October 1979, and in good time for the supporting tour Ian Paice eagerly stepped in to the band, strengthening the live sound, and increasing the ex-Purple quota to three. The others responded with "No I wasn’t in Deep Fucking Purple’ t-shirts! With ‘Lovehunter’ already in the racks, the new line-up’s first recording sessions were for Bernie Marsden’s ‘About Time Too’ solo album.

The 1979 shows were possibly the band’s peak live performances, and were followed up in 1980 by their most consistent album to date in ‘Ready & Willing’ and a #13 UK hit single in the shape of the wonderfully taut ‘Fool For Your Loving’. In the UK, Europe and Japan the band had hit the top, rounding off the year at home with a headlining spot at the Reading Festival, and another major album success with the 'Live In The Heart Of The City' album, which added 1980 performances to the original 'Live At Hammersmith' to make up a double LP

American recognition remained a very long way off; a late 1980 support slot with Jethro Tull barely made a scratch. In 1981 complacency set in. The tremendously strong ‘Don’t Break My Heart Again’ single kept up standards, but the new album ‘Come An’ Get It’ (despite reaching #1 in the UK) failed to improve on the band’s previous output. With rows over money brewing, and with David Coverdale feeling that the rest of the band lacked his ambition to push Whitesnake onwards and upwards, he came to the decision in early 1982 to disband the line-up entirely.

(photo. Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, David Coverdale, Neil Murray)

     
           
             
      
          
  
click above to view the next pages   
                                                                    
                                                                                                

.... 1976-78 David Coverdale Discography ....

 

WHITESNAKE
May 1977 - studio album
David Coverdale's first solo album. Reissued with Northwinds as "Early Years 76-77", by Purple Records in 2003. The reissue includes alternate takes of two tracks.
DPAS ONLINE STOREDISCOGRAPHYLADY mp3

 
 

NORTHWINDS
March 1978 - studio album
David Coverdale's second solo album. Remastered as a double CD set with Whitesnake on Purple Records in 2003. The reissue includes two previously unreleased out-takes.
DPAS ONLINE STORE ONLY MY SOUL mp3 • 1978 DPAS REVIEW DISCOGRAPHY

 

UK Singles:
Hole In The Sky / Blindman : 1977
Breakdown / Only My Soul : 1978

 
 
 

Completing the collection :
Coverdale's first post-Deep Purple Mk4 recording session was for Eddie Hardin's 'Wizard's Convention' album. He provided vocals for the track 'Money To Burn'. The album is available on Purple Records.

 
 

.... 1976-1981 David Coverdale and Whitesnake Discography ....

 
TROUBLE
October 1978 - studio album
The first Whitesnake album. Very much in a Bad Company mould, with keyboards overdubbed by Jon Lord. The CD remaster also includes the four Snakebite EP tracks.
DPAS ONLINE STORE 1978 DPAS REVIEW LOVE TO KEEP YOU WARM mp3
 
 
 

LOVEHUNTER
October 1979 - studio album
Ian Paice didn't play on the album, but had joined by the time it was released. The CD remaster also includes four BBC session tracks.
1979 DPAS REVIEW
DPAS ONLINE STOREWE WISH YOU WELL mp3

 
 
 
READY AN' WILLING
June 1980 - studio album
First Whitesnake album to feature Coverdale, Lord and Paice. The CD remaster includes a studio out-take, and four tracks recorded by the BBC at the 1979 Reading Festival.
DPAS ONLINE STORE 1980 DPAS REVIEWFOOL FOR YOUR LOVING mp3
 
 
 
LIVE.. IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
November 1980 - live album
Originally a double set, with one disc from Hammersmith, June 1980, and one a bonus reissue of the Japan only 'Live At Hammersmith' 1978. Remastered in 2007 with one extra track.
DPAS ONLINE STORE 1980 DPAS REVIEW WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE BLUES mp3
 
 
 
COME AN' GET IT
April 1981 - studio album
Includes the hit 'Don't Break My Heart Again'. Remastered with 6 studio bonus tracks in 2007.
DPAS ONLINE STORE 1981 DPAS REVIEW DON'T BREAK MY HEART AGAIN mp3
 
 
 

UK EPs / Singles:
Come On / Ain't No Love.. / Bloody Mary / Steal Away : 1978*
Lie Down / Don't Mess With Me : 1978
The Time Is Right For Love / Come On (live) : 1979
Long Way From Home / Trouble (live)/ Ain't No Love.. (live) : 1979
Fool For Your Loving / Mean Business / Don't Mess With Me : 1980
Ain't No Love.. (live)* / Take Me With You (live) : 1980
Ready An' Willing / Nighthawk / We Wish You Well : 1980
Don't Break My Heart Again / Child Of Babylon : 1981
Would I Lie To You / Girl : 1981

 
 

Completing The Collection:
The Snakebite EP* was expanded to album length in the USA by adding a selection of tracks from 'Northwinds'. The live single b-sides all appeared on 'Live In Hammersmith' (Japan only, March 1980), and in turn 'Live... In The Heart Of The City' (November 1980).. Whitesnake Mk4's first studio sessions were for Bernie Marsden's 'About Time Too' solo album, alongside Cozy Powell and Don Airey from Rainbow. Marsden's follow up album 'Look At Me Now' was recorded in 1981 with the help of Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Neil Murray. Both albums have been re-issued on CD by Purple Records, with radio session bonus tracks, two of which feature David Coverdale on vocals.

* 'Ain't No Love..' is a different version to the 'Live.. In The Heart Of The City' take, recorded in 1980 rather than 1978. It was added to the 2007 CD remaster of 'Live...In The Heart Of The City'.

BBC recordings of Whitesnake's performances at the 1979 and 1980 Reading Festivals were included on the (expensive) 9xCD, 1xDVD, 1x vinyl EP boxset "The Sunburst Years", released by EMI in 2011.

.... 1978-1981 Whitesnake On Video ....

 

FOURPLAY
Picture Music - VHS video
Four promos, including 'Fool For Your Loving' (1980) and 'Don't Break My Heart Again' (1981). Not transferred to DVD.

 
 
 
Completing The Collection:
A 22 track DVD containing nine 1978-81 promos, four TV appearances from UK TV shows The Old Grey Whistle Test & Top Of The Pops, and eight live tracks from a show in Washington 1980 were included on the "The Sunburst Years boxset in 2011. Sadly there has been no separate release of the DVD.
 
 

.... 1976-1981 David Coverdale And Whitesnake, Further Reading....

at www.deep-purple.net
- Deep Purple Family Tree - click the names on the tree for   individual member biographies
- DPAS Magazine Digests - 1978-81
- Photo Gallery
- Features - Bernie Marsden interview (2005)
- Features - Bernie Marsden interview (2006)

at www.purplerecords.net
- Bernie Marsden - About Time Too
- Bernie Marsden - Look At Me Now
- David Coverdale - Whitesnake / Northwinds
- Eddie Hardin - Wizard's Convention
on the Darker Than Blue blog
- Whitesnake deluxe biography review

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