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FAREWELL TOUR Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale reveals he 'grew up singing Irish rebel songs'

Legendary rock singer Coverdale talks about his Irish roots and why his band's music has stood the test of time

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David Coverdale says the touring was not all about making money

David Coverdale says the touring was not all about making money

David Coverdale says the touring was not all about making money

Legendary Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale found fame as a rock god, but says he grew up singing Irish rebel songs.

Famous for hits such as "Here I Go Again", "Is This Love" and "Fool For Your Loving", British-born music icon Coverdale says he worshipped his maternal grandmother, who was from Dublin.

"Are you in Dublin's fair city? My nan was from there," David tells the Sunday World on the phone from his American home in Reno.

"My maternal grandma was the first true love of my life. I think I spent the first five years being reared by her (in England) because my mam and dad were working.

"I have a picture of her and my mam walking down O'Connell Street, which I actually recreate every time I go there. And, of course, now there's a statue in Dublin of Phil (Lynott), bless his heart, an old mate of mine who is obviously sadly missed

"We've lost a couple of good ones in my world, including Gary Moore, of course, who was almost a Whitesnake member and I encouraged him to do his solo stuff. And thank God he did, because he did extraordinarily well. Another extraordinary talent missed."

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Coverdale says he and Whitesnake have stood the test of time thanks to their songs

Coverdale says he and Whitesnake have stood the test of time thanks to their songs

Coverdale says he and Whitesnake have stood the test of time thanks to their songs

 

Looking back on his childhood - he was raised in a working class family in North Yorkshire - Coverdale laughs heartily as he reveals: "I grew up finding my voice singing Irish f***king rebellion songs when my grandad or my father weren't around. They were Protestant. Politics and religion were never discussed in our house.

"Of course, at that time it was a patriarchal society. I think my mother sneakily had me baptised. My best friend was Catholic Irish and I'd sneak into the Catholic church.

"I knew all the stuff. I had very short hair at the time and one day a priest came up and twisted the side of my hair, which hurt like hell, and ran me out of the church saying, 'You don't belong here!'

"It was heartbreaking for me because I embraced it immensely, but my friend and I maintained our relationship. But the Irish rebellion songs really were the first songs that I was singing."

Coverdale, who was a member of Deep Purple before Whitesnake, also recalls playing Belfast during The Troubles and tells how they had to abandon the explosions that were a feature of band member Cozy Powell's drum solo for that particular concert.

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"That first time I had the pleasure of playing Belfast was a major eye opener," David admits.

"You could see the news about The Troubles and you could read about it, but it was different actually being there and feeling the energy and the atmosphere.

"Cozy Powell, God rest his soul, used to do a drum solo and we couldn't use explosives, understandably.

"I'm actively involved on social media today and I still have people sending me pictures from that time.

"It was the '84 Slide It In Tour. The appreciation and gratitude that was expressed to me has been amazing, and it was really my f**king pleasure."

At the age of 70, Coverdale says he's still excited at the prospect of getting out on the road on Whitesnake's farewell tour - and he's not driven by the fact that touring is a money-spinner.

"No, well the last 20-odd years I do it because I want to do it. Yes, I make a boatload of dough, but it's like the cake is already great and that's lovely frosting, thank you.

"You don't think, when you're playing 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' or 'Here I Go Again', 'woo, I wonder how many T-shirts I sold?' That's just not part of it. Whitesnake is big business without the business mentality."

It's all about the songs? "I gotta tell you, songs live forever," David agrees. "Bless his heart, George Harrison - Jesus Christ this really is the obituary column by David Coverdale…" he laughs at the mention of another dead legend.

It's like walking through a graveyard with you, I tell him. "But a really posh one," he quips back, laughing. "But George said, 'David, it's the songs that are living.'

"I've always considered myself a '70s album artist, but I've had extraordinary success with singles, so I ain't complaining babe. Musicians grow old, some get outdated, etc, but if you have songs that have hooked into somebody and are a part of the backdrop of somebody's life they will live on.

"You might have met your wife, your partner, your girlfriend, your boyfriend whatever at a Whitesnake concert. My music has been used for weddings, for funerals…and pole dancing, I understand. Ladies taking their clothes off to Slow And Easy…I mean, does it get any better, Edward!"

Coverdale has a wicked sense of humour and it's a laugh a minute chatting with him. At another point he talks about a former manager he admired.

"I'd p*ss in his mouth if his teeth were on fire, and I wouldn't say that about others," he says, adding: "Good luck with getting that sentence in to your newspaper."

On the day we talk, Coverdale is about to get his Covid-19 booster shot. "We've been in lockdown for a year-and-a-half, and today I'm going for my booster. It's Pfizer, and that's going to be my belated birthday gift to myself," he laughs.

"Can you imagine, a f**king vaccination is a birthday gift and I'm really excited about it. How the f**king world has changed!"

• Whitesnake and Foreigner with special guests, Europe, will play Dublin's 3Arena on May 10, 2022. Tickets are now on sale.

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