By Chad Baalman
The lines on his face might run a little deeper and there are times where the strain to hit certain notes is noticable, but David Coverdale is doing what he does best.
He's still rocking. And he turns 60 today.
Instead of coasting into retirement -- you know the drill, release a greatest hits album (remastered of course) with a bonus track or two, the obligatory reunion, do a farewell tour (sound of cash register opening and closing) and empty out the vaults for a boxed set -- Coverdale is still going through the daily grind.
Coverdale and his pride and joy, the band Whitesnake, have been touring virtually non-stop since May in support of their album Forevermore, released in March. The tour, which has already swung through the United States and is currently routing through South America, runs through December. Coverdale certainly isn't kicking back and resting, that's for sure.
The English-born lead singer has overseen different incarnations of Whitesnake. He has seen members come and go -- and come back again. Some breakups have been amicable, others (John Sykes anyone?) not so much.
Coverdale was there when Whitesnake started out with a blues sound in 1978 on the other side of the pond, a more edgier tone with Slide It In in 1984 and then mainstream success in the United States with their self-titled album in 1987.
Even if the claims of Coverdale being difficult to deal with are true -- after the release of the self-titled album and before going out on the ensuing tour he fired the band -- dating back to his days with Deep Purple, you have to tip your cap to him as he has been able to associate himself with some of the greatest talents in the business.
With Deep Purple, he played with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in addition to keyboardist Jon Lord, who would later follow him to Whitesnake. Coverdale was able to recruit axeman extraordinare Steve Vai to Whitesnake in 1989 and collaborated with Led Zeppelin great Jimmy Page in 1991. When it came to drummers, Coverdale worked with a Who's Who list -- Ian Paice provided the backbeat to Coverdale in both Deep Purple and Whitesnake. Then there was the late Cozy Powell, Aynsley Dunbar and Tommy Aldridge.
While the faces and styles have changed at Whitesnake, the constant has been Coverdale and his penchant for writing music filled with sexual innuendo. The Englishman still cranks out lyrics showcasing his longing for companionship from beauties, just as he did in Lovehunter.
When many people think of Coverdale and his days with Whitesnake, they think of that 1980s stretch that brought us radio hits like "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love," along with the provocative videos that starred girlfriend and eventual wife Tawny Kitaen (whom he divorced in 1991). It's a shame that it wasn't until the back half of the decade that rock fans began to really give a listen to Coverdale and his gang. The band's early work such as Ready an' Willing, Come an' Get It and Saints & Sinners features some of the most-played tracks on this writer's iPod and really showcases the natural progression of Whitesnake's sound.
Which brings us to today and Forevermore. Coverdale can still get down and dirty on songs such as "Dogs in the Street" and "Love & Treat Me Right." But he also takes a pensive tone on mellower numbers such as the title track, "One of These Days," and "Fare Thee Well."
Releasing Good to Be Bad in 2008 with Reb Beach (formerly of Winger) and Doug Aldrich (Dio) in support clearly energized Coverdale (it had been the band's first studio effort in 10 years) and the result brought us Forevermore, one of my favorite rock albums of the year, and a marathon tour.
All of which should lend proof that Coverdale, even at age 60, still has a lot to offer the rock music world.