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37 Years Ago: Whitesnake Play Their First Concert

David Coverdale
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On March 3, 1978, former Deep Purple singer David Coverdale and his new group Whitesnake performed their first concert at Lincoln Polytechnic.

Deep Purple’s collapse surely made for one of the most spectacular of the ’70s. Band members were scattered to the four winds, amid their all-too public split in the Spring of 1976. Founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had actually quit one year prior, and was already off and running with the successful new venture Rainbow, but the majority of the band would need years to recover, emotionally and professionally.

Some, like Mark IV guitarist Tommy Bolin, would sadly die trying. In the case of David Coverdale, who’d been plucked out of obscurity to replace Ian Gillan in late 1973, getting back on his musical feet meant, first and foremost, overcoming his confessed terror of “living without Deep Purple.”

Secondly, it required coping with tax exile, as the singer was simultaneously forced to move his family to Germany in order to safeguard his voluminous earnings with Purple against Britain’s inordinately high taxes, a situation that added feelings of severe displacement to his existing disappointment over Purple’s demise. From there, Coverdale set to work composing songs with guitarist Micky Moody for the purpose of recording a pair of solo albums — the prophetically named White Snake, released in February 1977; and Northwinds,’ from March 1978.

Even prior to the latter’s public unveiling, however, Coverdale had been cleared to return to England and, eager to get back to work, assembled a new band composed of Moody, fellow guitarist Bernie Marsden, bassist Neil Murray, keyboardis Pete Solley and drummer David “Duck” Dowle. Originally billed as David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, this was the band that was supposed to debut at the Sky Bird Club in Nottingham, England, on Feb. 23. That show was canceled, and a few weeks later, on March 3, the group performed its first show.

By April 1978, the now road-tested Whitesnake was prepared to release their first batch of songs via the Snakebite EP. That was followed just a few months later by the long-playing debut Trouble, which featuring newly recruited Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord. Combined, these projects served to officially launch the second act of Coverdale’s remarkable career in rock.

Following extensive success in Europe and the Far East, there followed yet another act involving a more bombastic hard-rock style, prettier band members, models humping automobiles and lots of peroxide — all of which, with an assist from MTV, helped pave the way for Whitesnake’s belated conquering of America. That journey started right here.

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