David Coverdale is one of the great vocalists of the rock era. He jumped into the limelight when he replaced Ian Gillan as lead vocalist of Deep Purple, and recorded three albums with that group, including “Burn“, “Stormbringer” and “Come Taste The Band“. After Deep Purple broke up, Coverdale formed his own band, Whitesnake, with which he’s recorded and performed off-and-on over the past forty-odd years. He’s had several major hit recordings in his own right.
Here are just a few songs from his prodigious output. First, the title track from Deep Purple’s album “Burn”, to illustrate his “immature” singing voice at the time he’d just made his breakthrough, and was still learning his signature vocal technique. He was 24 years old when this live recording was made in 1974.
From the same album, Coverdale and lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore co-wrote “Mistreated“. You can find the original rock version here. I like this much more recent short video of an impromptu acoustic guitar jam-session, as it displays Coverdale’s vocal range very well, and illustrates his ability to sing in blues style as well as rock.
“Fool For Your Loving” was Whitesnake’s first big hit in 1980. Here’s a live performance from 1990, when Coverdale was 39 years old. You can clearly hear his vocal development since his early days.
To round off this very brief look at Coverdale’s very extensive career, one of my favorites among his songs has always been “Soldier of Fortune“, which he co-wrote with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple. It’s never been released as a single by that band or Whitesnake, but it’s come to have a huge fan following over the years. Here’s an “unplugged” acoustic version with Whitesnake from 2015, which I prefer over all the more “rock-y” versions.
David Coverdale is still rocking, although he’s now almost 70 years old. So many of the great names from the founding era of rock are now growing older, as he sings in “Soldier of Fortune”. The musical world will be poorer for their loss when the last of them have crossed the river.