Early Years Part 4





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Mr. Kalodnar let it be known in no uncertain terms that he did not care for Martin Birch's style of production... and had 'strongly' recommended I work with producer Eddie Kramer... Most known for his work with the extraterrestrial Jimi Hendrix... So... with him at the helm... we commenced to working... and partying... HARD!!!

Yes... there was LOTS of mischief was being had... The naughty schoolboy mentality that lurks under the surface of just about every musician I have ever worked with came crawling out... Cozy worked and played to the max... on... and off his drumkit... After a full days work in the studio, he and Mel found they had lots of things in common... particularly GORDON'S GIN!!!

I didn't complain... they were kicking substantial arse in the studio... We were living life 24 hours a day... Burning our collective candle at both ends... and this was EVERYDAY, Baby!!!

'Slow and Easy'... recorded at 4 in the morning after a night on the razzle... Most of the vocal is just a live 'jam' lyric... I juggled the lyric later to try and make some sense of it...

'Love Ain't No Stranger'... featuring one of Micky's best ever solos... played thro' a 'Rockman' device... 'Slide It In'... 'Guilty Of Love'... 'Standing In The Shadow'... some good stuff...

To be honest, nobody cared much for Mr. Kramer... personally, or professionally... He had a kind of 'schoolteacher' approach to production... and my Lads were having none of it... He was basically 'tolerated'... He felt this, so, he just discussed whatever ideas he had with me, and if I thought anything was appropriate, I'd pass it on...

Unfortunately, he didn't bring the team player vibe that Birchy brought to a session... and I think if he had made any more suggestions to Cozy, I believe Cozy would have jumped on him...

The recording was taking much longer than we'd planned... and we had the 1983 Donington festival, aka, the 'Monsters of Rock', coming up...

I'd hoped to get the album out in time for the show... but, it was not to be...

Mel and I mixed the 'Guilty Of Love' single with Mr. Kramer... Eddie's approach to mixing was unusual, to say the least... He would mix a little bit at a time... literally a minute, or so, and then ask us what we thought... Needless to say, we were somewhat confused... and wondered if this was how they do it in the States???... Weird...

Anyway... we all returned to the UK to prepare for the 'Monsters', which Cozy and I had decided to make a 'fancy dress' ball!!!... Yes... we would have the whole area decorated like a MASH unit... and everyone would be encouraged to dress in battle fatigues and camouflage...

Whitesnake Commandos ROOL, Baby!!!...

It was a lot of fun... VERY expensive... and once more... much mischief was being had behind the scenes... and a lot of booze was being consumed... er... make that an AWFUL lot...

An interesting aside to the Donington show... In 1982, Mel Galley had helped in the construction of the stage as a carpenter... and the next year... 1983... he was a member of the headlining band!!!... YEAH!!!

I also agreed to film the event for the first ever Whitesnake in-concert video...

Micky's manager, Alan Crooks, called me to say that Micky was feeling left out of the songwriting... and was unhappy with the situation... I wasn't surprised... He had been recently married... and being away from home so much... certainly if you aren't enjoying yourself... does not a happy minstrel make... We talked about it, and both felt it was time to move on...

So, once again, ol' Michael Joseph Moody was out... and I had my eye on a few contenders I thought could help bring a new flavour to the band...

Adrian Vandenberg and Michael Schenker... VERY different players to Micky, Bernie and Mel... I'd met both Adrian and Michael... liked them both, and thought either one of them would fit in well...

At that time, I believed Adrian would be the least 'trouble'... (no disrespect, Michael)... and he was a self confessed admirer of the band... (always a bonus)... and familiar with our music...

I called him from the studio in Munich to see if he'd like to fly in from Tulipland for a little playtime with the 'Snakes... He very excitedly told me that his band Vandenberg were having a hit of their own in the States with their excellent single,'Burning Heart'... so, understandably, he had to decline my offer...

He told me later that it was one of the hardest decisions he'd ever had to make... We wished each other well, and agreed to stay in touch...

There was no question in my mind that Mr. Vandenberg and I were destined to work together, but, 'when' was another matter entirely...

My good friend and agent, Rod McSween of ITB, had asked me if I'd heard of a guitarist called John Sykes... a player he thought would be perfect for the band... and at that time, I hadn't...

I had a couple of European festivals lined up, so I arranged to have the excellent Thin Lizzy tour with us, so I could have a look and listen to this Mr. Sykes...

John and I met several times in hotel bars during the tour... and got on well enough... and I could definately see his potential...

Brian Downey, the gentleman drummer from Lizzy encouraged John to go with me, for some reason... I said we'd wait 'til I was back in the studio and John could come over to Munich and check out what we were up to...

I got his telephone number and we left it at that...

After the tour, Mel and I flew to New York to finish the vocals for the album... Mr. Kramer had booked us in the Hit Factory... a GREAT studio... and I was sharing their incredible vocal room with a certain Mr. Jagger... We did it on alternate 12 hour shifts... and never bumped into each other...

Anyway... to cut a long story short, it wasn't happening... For some reason, Eddie wasn't capturing the full dynamic of my voice on tape... and Mel, God bless him, reassured me it wasn't my fault...

So, after accepting the situation wasn't going to get any better, I called John Kalodnar and told him I'd decided to release Mr. Kramer from any further obligation to the album...

I also insisted that Martin Birch be reinstated as my producer... then I called Martin and asked him if he would get involved with the project, and thankfully he did...

We arranged to meet up in Munich, once again at Musicland Studios... which was beginning to feel like my second home... and, at last... the album was back on track with someone whom I totally trusted at the helm...

Ahh... Make that a LARGE cognac and coke, please... Thank you...

Once we were up and running, I called John Sykes and invited him over... He flew in... looking great... and jammed on some of the tracks we'd already recorded...

Unfortunately... Martin, Cozy and Mel were not impressed... I can't say it was the best introduction to John's playing... Certainly no clue as to how John would be playing in a few years time...

But, once again, my intuition told me he was the one...

He went back to England and we negotiated back and forth for some time on the 'phone...

During this period, we had all grown somewhat distant from Colin... and quite honestly, I was missing Neil Murray's playing...

Mr. Kalodnar was not reponding to the mixes Martin and I were air-mailing to him in LA every few days... and over a glass or two, we both came to the conclusion that he had no intention of accepting Birchy's mixes...

Oh, well... I'd deal with that situation later...

We decided to press on with the knowledge that our sonic endeavours would ultimately see the LIGHT of day with EMI... and just as we thought, Geffen called to invite me to LA to discuss the project...

I was more than happy to walk away from them at that time, as I'd been offered a deal with Atlantic Records, a company I had always admired... and, to be honest, I was walking around with a telegram from Doug Morris and Ahmet Ertegun inviting me to be a part of the Atlantic family...

Anyway... JDK was very persuasive in his overview... and while I was there in LA, I listened to a great deal of rock radio... and I could hear how 'dated' our approach to recording actually was... Certainly for the American market...

Mr. Kalodnar introduced me to Keith Olson, a very successful American producer, and suggested we give him a go at the mixing... OK, says I... I'll make a deal with you... I'll go along with this, if you let me overdub John Sykes and Neil Murray on the US version of the album...

We had a deal...

So... I end up with two versions of the same album...

When I heard the US mix for the first time I was so angry I threw the cassette against the wall... then Cozy stamped on it... breaking it completely... and that was our opinion in a nutshell...

It appeared that Mr. Kalodnar had focused his attention on three particular songs... 'Slide It In'... 'Slow and Easy', and 'Love Ain't No Stranger'... and the rest of the album was mixed in a so-so fashion...

Neil was on all the tracks, but, John wasn't featured as much as I had hoped...

I broke off communications with Geffen, thinking the party was over before we'd even started... I had a drink... or two... and prepared for a couple of US promotional dates...

It was at that time, I heard the 'Slide It In' tracks played on American FM radio...

I could hear the difference in the sound... The tracks sounded incredible!!!... HUGE!!!... So... I thought to meself... you can teach an old dog new tricks... but, only if he's willing to learn...

Even Cozy agreed... and, adding a little cherry to our cake, there was a very healthy buzz building about the band... Geffen could feel it... I could feel it...

Whitesnake was about to take off in America...

The 'Slide It In' album became the first of many multi-platinum albums for Whitesnake... and it was well worth the wait...

The Universe was unfolding according to schedule... at last!!!

I must say... while I was compiling this album, as a companion CD to the double '25th Silver Anniversary' project... I was reintroduced not only to music I haven't heard for a long time, but, also to at lot of the memories from those years... and most of 'em were good memories, I'm delighted to say... and, yes... regardless of whatever has been said, or has gone down between some former colleagues and myself in more recent years, I am thrilled to have known them all, and to have had the pleasure of creating and working with them at that time in my life... Yes... and also the great people, musicians and outstanding crewmembers we have been blessed with, all of whom brought their own particular talents and magic to the proceedings... and helped Whitesnake get from here to there, and back again, in the wildest circumstances and situations... John Coletta... the many people at EMI whom were involved through the early years... Cliff Busby... Rupert Perry... Tony Russell... Rob Dickens... Adrian Hopkins... Rod MacSween... the two Johns at Concert Publishing... Robbie Dennis... Allassone Lewis... Tina Beans... Stephen Ross... Peter Solley... Brian Johnston... Magnet... Willy (Fifi) Fyffe... Jimmy Eyers... Paul Newman... Adrian Selby... Joe Brown... Gary Marks... Steve Payne... Ossy Hoppe... Stuart Wickes... Laurie Quigley... Ashley Williams... Davey Patterson... Barry Evans... Gungi Patterson... Big Mick... Big John... The Denim Brigade... Beryl... Catholic Chris... Telegram Sam... Lord Snooty... Elsie... and not forgetting sweet Jack ZZ Magill, and Barry Newman, whom we have sadly lost... So many good Lads... and Lasses... far too many to mention... but, all will be held forever in my heart... and last, but, certainly not least... You... the audience who carried us with you on your shoulders, and in your hearts... the extraordinary 'Whitesnake Choir'... I raise my glass to You... May God and the Angels Smile Their Blessings On You All... ”Cheers!!!”

David Coverdale
Lake Tahoe... November 2003