How Close Did DAVID COVERDALE Come To Reuniting With RITCHIE BLACKMORE?
April 29, 2015
In a brand new interview with Classic Rock Revisited, former DEEP PURPLE and current WHITESNAKE frontman David Coverdale was asked how close a PURPLE-and-Coverdale reunion came to being a reality. He responded: "Glenn Hughes [former DEEP PURPLE bassist/vocalist] and I are very close, and Glenn's been after me to do some sort of a PURPLE reunion for some time. To be honest, and I mean no disrespect to my former colleagues, but it was never something that was interesting enough to stop me from doing what I love, which is WHITESNAKE.
"I certainly loved working with DEEP PURPLE and it was the beginning of my journey. I am forever grateful to those guys for having the courage to give me the opportunity, but it was not something I was wanting to do. I am totally happy to create new stuff working as WHITESNAKE."
He continued: "A representative of Jon's [Lord, former DEEP PURPLE keyboardist] called me just after he’d been diagnosed with cancer, to give me that information, which was chilling enough. He said, 'Jon said, on his recovery, would you be up for doing some kind of DEEP PURPLE reunion, whether it was Mach III, or whatever?' I said, 'Absolutely, I will be there for you.' As we know, sadly, Jon passed away. This opened up an opportunity to reach out, after thirty years of acrimony, with somebody that I truly respected, as a musician, which is Ritchie Blackmore. One reason was to express and commiserate the loss of Jon."
Coverdale added: "Regardless of whatever, those guys basically formed DEEP PURPLE and were incredibly influential to me. I've been able to tell everyone else I worked with how much I appreciated the opportunity, and still do to this day, other than Ritchie. Ritchie doesn't really bother reading rock mags and stuff like that. When I've said these things before, he doesn't see them. It was important for me to reach out to him for those reasons, with no other agenda whatsoever."
Asked when this was happening, David replied: "This was in 2012, and we communicated into 2013, and then he asked me if I'd speak to his manager to which, of course, I said, 'Absolutely.' She came on and said, 'Can you keep a secret?' I said, 'Of course not, I'm a fucking singer.' She said, 'Would you be interested in doing something with Ritchie? My first thought was like BLACKMORE/COVERDALE like I did with Jimmy in COVERDALE/PAGE. That would be a very exciting musical premise because he introduced me to his first songs that he did on the first Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW album. They were initially songs he was proposing for DEEP PURPLE."
He continued: "I love the early RAINBOW stuff. 'Rainbow Rising', are you kidding me? When Cozy Powell came on board? That was fantastic. The idea of being able to do PURPLE, RAINBOW and WHITESNAKE was interesting, but then she said, 'Ritchie is curious. Who would you go for? Roger [Glover] or Glenn?' I said, 'I really appreciate the musicality of Roger, and he produced two of my solo albums, but Glenn is my soul brother.' I recommended Keith Emerson as the keyboard player. He was a fan of PURPLE and Jon and Keith had a very healthy musical rivalry. Keith is a breathtakingly gifted musician. Nobody had spoken to Keith, as this was just a discussion.
"It was during the talks for this that I started digging into our original [DEEP PURPLE] work. I was going, 'I hope he's into a fresh coat of paint on some of these songs.' I was a fucking kid then. It was the first time I had written for an album. I can hear naivety all over the place. I started working on bits and pieces. I thought my arrangement of 'Sail Away' could have been a nice transition for what he is doing with his BLACKMORE'S NIGHT and we could tie it in with that thing and maybe even do something with Candice [Ritchie's wife] on that song. Once Carol, his manager, and I started talking about their vision for touring and stuff, it just did not resonate, and I wrote her a very, very respectful e-mail withdrawing from whatever that project could have gone forward with.
"It was literally sitting down with my wife, Cindy, and just saying, 'What a pity. I've done all this work.' Actually, that is typical of me to move forward with things. Pagey [Jimmy Page] would go, 'Fuck, man, you're so prepared.' I would go, 'I can't help it.' Cindy goes, 'Why don't you do this as a WHITESNAKE project?' I was, like, 'Why not?' I sounded out my [WHITESNAKE] colleagues, and Doug [Aldrich, guitar] was still onboard at that time, and the response from everyone was a resounding 'yes.'
"Doug and my wife were the only people at that time that I was sharing the news that I was talking with Ritchie, communicating with him, during the 'Year Of The Snake' tour. I think something must have been going on for Doug as he was really encouraging me to do it. [Laughs] Go figure! Doug would have been onboard, of course, but we just couldn't get together. It was just impossible to give it the kind of time.
"This project [WHITESNAKE's upcoming 'The Purple Album'] has been hugely respected by all my colleagues. There was nothing flippant or throwaway, you know. It was really, as I was mixing the project with Michael McIntyre and Reb Beach, that I started feeling that this was coming full circle for me. It was a feeling of completion. This is how I started, what an appropriate way to go back out. The other fucking thing is, quite honestly, as Glenn and I have discussed for decades, the people that were running the PURPLE organization never ever thought of putting out a best-of Mach III and IV. We never understood it… fucking whatever… so this is my best-of and everything is done with love and respect."
WHITESNAKE's twelfth studio album, "The Purple Album", will be released in Europe on May 15 and in North America on May 19 via Frontiers Music SRL. "The Purple Album" is a re-imagination of classic songs from David Coverdale's time as the lead singer for DEEP PURPLE. The album is currently available for pre-order in various configurations on Amazon: a standard edition, a deluxe edition featuring two bonus tracks, four music videos and a behind-the-scenes featurette on the recording of the album and in a double LP vinyl format. Plans are also underway for a special limited box set edition with memorabilia and merchandise.
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