After recording two solo albums, former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale formed Whitesnake around 1977.
In the glut of hard rock and heavy metal bands of the late 70s, their first albums got somewhat lost in the shuffle, although they were quite popular in Europe and Japan.
During 1982, Coverdale took time off to take care of his sick daughter. When he re-emerged with a new version of Whitesnake in 1984, the band sounded revitalised and energetic.
Three years later, Whitesnake released an eponymous album which was even better.
Portions of the album were blatantly derivative (Still Of The Night was a dead ringer for early Zeppelin) but the group could write powerful heavy rockers like Here I Go Again that were driven as much by melody as riffs, as well as hit power ballads like Is This Love?.
Whitesnake was an enormous international success, selling over six million copies in the USA alone.
Before they recorded their 1989 follow-up, Slip Of The Tongue, Coverdale again assembled a completely new version of the band, featuring guitar virtuosos Steve Vai.
Although the record went platinum it was a considerable disappointment after the success of Whitesnake.
Coverdale put the band on hiatus after that album. In 1993 he released a collaboration with Jimmy Page that was surprisingly lacklustre.
A new incarnation of the band went on a short tour in Europe in 1994 to promote their Greatest Hits album, with former Ratt guitarist Warren DeMartini playing lead guitar and Denny Carmassi on drums.
Adrian Vandenberg, one of Whitesnake’s earlier guitarists also returned to the fold. Shortly thereafter (and with the hits compilation selling poorly) the band lost their recording contract.
In 1997 Coverdale and Vandenberg regrouped again – ostensibly to promote the album Restless Heart, which was originally intended as a Coverdale solo album but the record company pressured to release it under the Whitesnake name.
The album produced the blues ballad Too Many Tears which reached #46 in the UK singles chart. The band folded again at the end of the year.
Coverdale reformed the band again in December 2002, for their 25 year anniversary and the band have stayed together since – albeit with the usual line-up changes.
In fact, the next time you are at an after-show party – of any hard rock band in the world – shout out the question “has anyone here ever been a member of Whitesnake?”. You can bet good money that at least two people in the room will raise their hand.
Guitarist Mel Galley passed away in 2008. Galley played on the albums Saints & Sinners (1982) and Slide It In (1984) and wrote such tracks as Give Me More Time and Love Ain’t No Stranger, but had been forced to quit the group after breaking his arm during a drunken night out in Germany.
Whitesnake are the favourite band of Lois Griffin from Family Guy.