Whitesnake set to take stage at Rocklahoma
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, May 26, 2011
5/26/11 at 3:29 AM
24-Hour Party People
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Original Print Headline: Here they go again; Whitesnake on tour
"I'm so excited I have bluebirds flying out of every orifice," joked Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale in a recent telephone interview.
Whitesnake plays Rocklahoma Friday in one of only a handful of U.S. tour dates scheduled this spring, though Coverdale hopes to return later this year.
The day after the Rocklahoma show, he flies to Moscow to headline festivals and tour dates around the world.
"We haven't played Oklahoma in a long time," Coverdale said. "You know, last time maybe it was a college town - Norman's a college town, right? - and in someone's garage," he added, good-naturedly.
Let's put it this way: It's been a long time since he rock 'n' rolled in Oklahoma.
Chances are, Whitesnake has played a whole lot in this part of the country. It's just been awhile.
This year, Coverdale is two years shy of 40 years as a professional musician.
That's a lot of touring. And recording. To the baby boomers out there, he's quite possibly best known for his work in Deep Purple in the 1970s. He performed on albums "Burn," "Stormbringer" and "Come Taste the Band."
For Gen-Xers, he formed Whitesnake in 1977 after Deep Purple disbanded. The Englishman has helmed the band ever since.
His sex-laden howl has often been compared to Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. In fact, he also worked on a solo project with Zep guitarist Jimmy Page in the early 1990s.
But his passion is the bluesy, rocky riffs of Whitesnake. He is the band, which has a rotating cast of members. And he doesn't plan on stopping any time soon, he said.
He's even hitting Japan in October.
"It's amazing. Even after all they've been through, the country is moving on and moving forward. I'm really excited to visit there," he said.
And, he said, he's doing a lot more touring these days than he used to do when Whitesnake was at its "'80s heyday."
"I used to only go out every three or four years or so," he said. "But everybody's touring more these days."
The 59-year-old Coverdale said he is as fit and active as he was in the 1990s.
"I've been watching concert footage of me in 1990. It was intimidating. I told myself, 'I can't look like that anymore.' Then I realized it was an excuse. Next thing you know, I'm inspired. I'm healthier now than I probably ever have been."
As for being a "nostalgia" act, "Well, apparently I create classic rock these days," he said with a laugh.
"That's OK for me. Remember, bands don't name themselves. Radio stations and fans do. I would never go through the hassle of quantifying myself. I'm no nostalgia act. I'm a musician.
"Making music gives me great joy. I'm a musician and a songwriter. I learn from the past; I don't live in it."
And American music has taught him a lot. He cut his teeth on all-American blues like Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Howling Wolf.
Elvis Presley showed him how to rock the blues with a little American tongue-in-cheek innuendo. Jimi Hendrix showed him how to make them shimmy and sing.
"Growing up as a working-class kid in northeast England, are you kidding me?" Coverdale asked rhetorically. "Americans taught me lust and fun. The 'safe sex' of Herman's Hermits and even the Beatles masked sexuality. The Rolling Stones, who copied Muddy Waters and American blues, ripped the mask right off. It rang all the appropriate bells," he said.
"If people don't get the twinkle in the eye and wry smile that comes with those songs, then, well, they don't get rock 'n' roll," he said.
"The Rocklahoma guys came to me and really started the ball rolling on this tour," Coverdale said. "They get it. ... What started as a European tour ended up expanding into America because they wanted Whitesnake there. It turned into an exclusive tour," with only two to three weeks in the states, he said.
His set list will contain about 50 percent new music, he said.
"The older songs get a fresh coat of paint," he explained. "It goes old-new-old-new. ... The mix-up makes me feel extraordinarily recharged as a performer.
"The old tunes don't get dusty. Keeping them vital has been hugely instrumental in me writing new music."
Whitesnake takes the stage at Rocklahoma on Friday. ASH NEWELL / Courtesy