Digital Playlist: David Coverdale

Who: David Coverdale, founder and frontman of Whitesnake.
What: Five influential songs from his formative years rocking his iPod.
Where: Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Latest Album: Forevermore.

David Coverdale:
The happy bluesman.
(Photo credit: Ash Newell.)

1. JEFF BECK “Rock My Plimsoul” — “[This song from] the Truth album was incredibly influential on me, more so than any other at that time. And I know from working with Jimmy Page that it was also very influential on his approach coming out of The Yardbirds. It still is. Both Jeff Beck and all the Allman Brothers at that time showed me the possibility of the singer-songwriter to harness blues and rock and make it more accessible. That was when Hendrix started coming to full flow. He embraced all of those elements that I still do — which is hard rock, R&B, big riffs and hooks — but he had this incredible extraterrestrial, cosmic aspect about him which was hard for me to identify with. I just adored his music and what it did to me. But stuff like The Allmans, Jeff and Rod, the Kinks, I spent all of my pocket money on that.”

2. THE WHO “My Generation” — “It is the absolute perfect rock song for me — musically, instrumentally, vocally, lyrically.”

3. ELVIS PRESLEY “Jailhouse Rock” — “I’m an only child. My mother was a great singer, and I got the artsy-fartsy stuff from my dad, even though he was unfortunately an unskilled worker. But we never had a record player in the house or anything. It was really bizarre. But I spent a great deal of my formative years with my maternal grandmother, who had two teenage children, Auntie Phil and Uncle Eddie, and they had a huge, old gramophone. I remember the Jailhouse Rock EP. It’s interesting because you don’t know what it is, but it gets you fluffed up. And ‘Jailhouse Rock,’ contrary to what a lot of people imagine, was the inspiration for the verses of ‘Still Of The Night’.”

4. LITTLE RICHARD “Long Tall Sally” — “I didn’t know he was an African-American or black, as it were. I just wanted to emulate this amazing noise. I had no blinkers at the time to say this is a domain that’s reserved solely for African-Americans, that big holler, so I would consciously work on projecting so hard. I didn’t even know that their voices sounded even more distorted, because they were big voices for sure, but they were more powerful than microphones at that time. So a lot of the grittiness was actually distortion, but I worked on emulating that.”

5. CHUCK BERRY “No Particular Place To Go” — “Chuck Berry is one of America’s greatest poets, one of the best storytellers I’ve ever heard. He’s up there with Homer and Shakespeare. I worship and adore Shakespeare, but I will not diminish what ‘No Particular Place To Go’ does to me. Brilliant lyrics, brilliant story. You’re right there with him. I actually had to drive next to Chuck Berry on the Sunset Strip where Sunset Plaza is. He had Kentucky plates on and was with a blowsy white woman. I was next to him in the old white Jag from the videos in those days, and we were at a stoplight looking at each other and going ‘Vroom!’ It was the same stoplight I had with Jeff Beck as well. Very funny. Jeff’s a different story — him and his hot rods, you haven’t got a chance.”

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