Early Years Part 3





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Around this time, my first marriage was really starting to show the wear and tear of my constantly working... and, sadly, we were both tired of trying to hide behind civil pleasantries... It was a tough time for both of us... and particularly trying in our attempt to shield our beautiful daughter, Jessica, from any unnecessary pain... The silences were deafening... A tough, emotional time for all concerned...

Such short-fuse drama... which seemed, at that time, to be necessary to get my creative juices flowing... produced the lyrics for, 'Crying In The Rain'... and... 'Here I Go Again'... all documenting the breakdown of the relationship...

Returning to England, and getting back to work was a much needed distraction for me... though this time the vibe in the band had noticeably changed... The energy was low at rehearsals and it was evident that the band's enthusiasm was on the wane... The suggestion of adjourning to the pub was greeted with more eagerness than working on the new tunes... Maybe we were bored... I don't know... But, as we did so often whenever we came up against obstacles... we pushed on though... Though this time it took much more effort... and the 'fun' element was a little more forced...

The preparations for the recording took place at a rehearsal facility in London... Nomis... and once again, we'd decided to use the Stone's truck... and returned to the familiar surroundings of Clearwell Castle to start recording what would become the 'Saints and Sinners' album... and a parting of the ways for some of us...

Throughout the recording there was rarely, if ever, a full complement of musicians present... Everyone seemed to have something more 'important' they had to do away from the sessions... except Neil, me, and a new engineer we were going to try called Guy Bidmead, and myself... It was unsettling... and it was this uncomfortable situation, and the fact that we seemed to have stopped moving forward, or growing in an artistic sense... Also, in terms of record sales we appeared to have 'peaked'... All of these factors contributed to my feeling that it may be time for a change... A significant change ...

We were basically repeating what we'd already achieved... always an uncomfortable realisation for me... I could also hear it in the band's performances... A distinct lack of interest in getting the best out of our new song ideas... and nowhere near the early passion we could always tap into and rely on... Even now, when I hear the album, I find a lot of it lackluster and lazy... and it takes me right back to that time... and strengthens my resolve never to go through that kind of uncomfortable situation again... It seemed to me that some of us were content just cruising on our 'gold' status... and I was hungry to go further...

All of this contributed to my eventual decision to put Whitesnake on a 'holding pattern over Heathrow' until I could determine what to do about the situation...

To a certain extent, I still believed in the band, and certainly in the new songs we'd rehearsed... but... once we started recording... I could tell the 'fire' was missing...

It was bloody hard work!!!

Also, I was missing me ol' mate, and partner in crime, Martin Birch... A 'Vibe-Meister', par excellence... The incredible, natural 'fun' element we'd been blessed with, and had probably taken for granted, had noticeably diminished... Now, instead of having a good, creative 'fun' time... turning ordinary into extraordinary... it had somehow turned into a 'job' when no one was looking... Sad, really... Who knows why that stuff happens... (Cue the music)... "Why do good times, never last... "

Nobody said anything, but, I'm sure I wasn't the only one to feel it... I did know, however, that I didn't want to work, or try to create, in an environment like that... I'd been in that kind of situation before... at the end of my time with Deep Purple... and I wasn't prepared to go there again if I could help it...

We still conjured up some decent tunes the likes of 'Youngblood'... 'Bloody Luxury'... 'Rough and Ready'... 'Love and Affection'... Not the best we could offer, but, not too shabby... and, as soon as we had all the basic tracks in the can, I called an end to the session and we all went home...

Interestingly, nobody asked me why we weren't finishing the album...

The debilitating circumstances in my marriage could no longer be ignored... and coupled with professional uncertainty... the proverbial 'double whammy'... and I needed some distance from the responsibility of it all... so I buggered off... (ran away, in other words)... and moved into a modest seaside cottage on the North Yorkshire coast of England to think things through... A delightful hamlet called Robin Hood's Bay... with a lovely pub...

I was quite enjoying distracting meself from the trials and tribulations of my life, when out of the blue, I received an urgent call that my beloved daughter had contracted 'bacterial menangitis'... a horrible, potentially compromising illness...

I returned home immediately and spent a fearful time with her and her incredibly nurturing, tireless mother at Amersham Children's Hospital, where, thank God, and great doctors, she fully recovered... It was at this time I realised that I'd been afraid to confront my professional situation... and the drastic need for change... I simply hadn't had the balls to do anything about it... I'd been staying 'busy'... distracting myself with this and that, simply to avoid dealing with it... and it was while I was sitting at her bedside, feeling hopeless, I had the realisation that this should be the only time I should feel this way... when I had absolutely no control over the outcome of the situation... and anything else in my life I could deal with...

It was then I found the strength to get off my arse and confront the circumstances... So after my daughter's complete recovery, I called my lawyers and then the band...

My daughter's illness gave me the courage to change my life...

Everyone, but, Micky turned up to the meeting... he said he knew what was going to go down, and elected to go to a darts match at his local pub instead...

Jon Lord fought for the band more than anyone... and endeared himself to me even more with the depth and passion of his conviction...

It was hard to let Ian Paice go... Very hard, indeed... I loved him as a person, and as a player... Also, I have never forgotten, and will never forget, the opportunity he, along with the other members of Deep Purple, had given me... and for which I will be eternally grateful...

But, for some reason Ian had been very distant and unfocused during the recent recording... and no matter how I tried, I couldn't get him to open up and talk about what was distracting him... This was definitely not the Paicey I was familiar with...

Something had changed... In truth, it was hard to let any of them of them go... We'd been through some great and wonderful times together... Pulled each other through the up-hill career obstacle course... It had been a great team... but... like in any relationship... there is a choice... You stay together and run the risk of being unhappy... or... you move on...

Both choices involve pain...

It was around this time that Cozy Powell, who had been peripherally aware of the discontent in Whitesnake, had asked me to consider getting involved with him and the Michael Schenker Band... of course, I suggested that maybe he and Michael may like to get involved with me!!!

I had always been impressed with Cozy... He had an awful lot to say... for a drummer!!!... I can't honestly say that I felt him a better drummer than Ian... but, he presented an interesting package, ol' Coz did... A multi faceted man... Very enthusiastic... Infectiously so... and that particular element had been missing for me recently...

We connected as people very well from the beginning... Very much on the same wavelength... or at least we were at the start of our relationship... and so, after several socially engaging meetings we decided he should join me for the next chapter of Whitesnake...

Jon Lord had been working with an old friend of ours, Pete York, the drummer from the original Spencer Davis Group, now living in Germany... and through Peter had met another local 'hero' of mine from my youth in the North... Bass player Colin Hodgkinson...

I had been an admirer of his band, a local jazz-rock trio called Backdoor... and saw them at every opportunity... For some reason, I wasn't sure that Neil would work as well with Cozy as he did with Paicey, and Cozy also felt a change would be appropriate... so I was on the look-out for another bass player...

When Jon recommended Colin I couldn't really see him in a rock band, but, Jon was very keen... So I thought of a sneaky way to audition him... Cozy was recording his solo album 'Octopus', with Mel Galley, who had recently joined us, contributing on guitar...

I enjoyed Mel's straight forward, organic guitar work very much, and had considered him at the very beginning for the first chapter of Whitesnake... along with his fellow Trapezer, drummer Dave Holland... I can't remember why that didn't happen... Obviously wasn't meant to...

Cozy agreed to audition Colin in the studio... and immediately called me... "He's a f@#$in' hooligan like us!!!"... was Cozy's immediate reaction to Colin's playing...

So... it was all coming together at last... and thank God, 'cause I already had a sold-out tour in the UK to do... and no band to do it with!!!

It was around this time I got a call from Micky Moody who asked to meet with me and said he wanted to come back... OK, says I... and very soon the new version of the band was ready to begin rehearsing...

I had agreed to finish the 'Saints and Sinners' album on the condition I would be able to negotiate an agreeable divorce from my manager at the time... Mr. John Coletta... who was also one of the two original Deep Purple managers...

On that premise, and after I agreed to accept the responsibility to pay off all of the existing Whitesnake debt... I was contractually free to make new deals... and more than ready to move forward with the new chapter of Whitesnake...

The next album was to be my first with Geffen Records, a relatively small, but, prestigious US label, run by the mercurial David Geffen, along with his personally hand picked team of executives from all over the bloody place!!!

It would also lead to my first encounter with the illustrious John David Kalodnar... an A & R man, I was told, who had the best 'ears' for commercial rock, in the music business...

JDK definitely embraced a 'hands on' philosophy... unlike most of the record company guys at that time, who basically accepted whatever the hell you gave 'em... In fact, I had never worked so closely with anyone from a record company... other than on promotional tours...

John flew to Germany to see the new band in concert... and didn't like them... at all!!!

He has an annoying habit of walking around with a notepad during the show... making copius notes... I took him to the best little cathouse in Hamburg after the show... Our first creative meeting was in the Madam's office... where he proceeded to SAVAGE the band... "If you take this line-up into the studio... it will be a BIG mistake", he told me... He felt I needed a 'guitar hero' to be my foil... and that Mel, Colin and Micky simply didn't cut it...

Oh, dear, I thought... who does this guy think he is???... We were not off to the best start, ol' JDK and I...

I 'rented' Jon Lord's beautiful home in Oxfordshire, 'Chagham Hall'... complete with full-size cricket pitch, to rehearse for the next studio album... and completely ignored Mr. Kalodnar's suggestions to change the band personnel...

I was VERY happy the way everything was coming together... Not quite the bunch of merry, melody makers I'd been blessed with before... but, a solid, musical crew, none the less...

Micky seemed like his old self again, and was playing and interacting well... The new songs were kicking... and connecting with the players...

You can always tell when a band is keen... You can feel it...They research the song structure more and try to improve it... and that suits me and my modest chord sequences just fine...

I wanted the blues element in the band's identity to 'rock' more... I never saw Whitesnake as a pure, traditional 12 bar blues band, as much as I love the blues... I wanted a complimentary mix of soul... rock... blues... and musicianship...

For instance, although he wasn't really a blues guitar player, Mel Galley had a very good melodic rock sensibility... a fine voice... and he loved soul music, as I did... and that helped immensely in our short, but, sweet, writing partnership... and, of course, I can always slip my blues and soul into pretty much any musical style...

So... after a couple of decadent, but, creatively rewarding weeks basking in Jon's delightful hospitality... we flew to Germany... and to an old Purple haunt... Musicland Studios... to start the new album... in wonderfully hospitable Munich...

Oh... dear... will we get any work done, in this lovely, seductive city???... Of course we will... and we'll have a bloody good time doing it!!!... OOO-ER!!!