David Coverdale’s Perilous Road to Join Deep Purple

Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan quit in 1973, and David Coverdale took his place. Years later, on the ‘Rock & Roll High School with Pete Ganbarg’ podcast, the singer discussed how he got there. To begin, Coverdale first met the members of the band in 1969. His band, The Government, opened for Deep Purple at Bradford University, and thereafter, he had a conversation with Jon Lord, which he described as follows: “And, bless his heart, Jon Lord… ‘I thoroughly appreciated your set…’ ‘Do you have a phone number?’ My parents never owned a phone. ‘Pigeon post,’ you know, ‘Meet me at such and so.'” As a result, the singer provided Lord his home address and waited for him to send him a letter. The gap continued until 1973, when Deep Purple began looking for a new vocalist via an article in the British newspaper Melody Maker. The band’s advertisement requested that applicants provide a photograph and a recording of themselves singing. Coverdale handled the situation with his mother after recording himself drunkenly singing Billy Withers and Joe Cocker songs but not having a photo. He revealed: “My mum gave me a picture of me saluting as a boy scout. And she told him, ‘You better make sure I get this back.’ “I wrote, ‘Dear Deep Purple, as you can see, I am always prepared.'”

The Whitesnake frontman’s scheme resulted in an audition, and the band hired him as its new vocalist on his 21st birthday. However, as Ian Paice noted in an interview with Classic Rock, this signaled the start of a new phase, which included a shift in image. In those days, Coverdale was ‘overweight,’ with a ‘very unusual hairdo, extremely strange clothes, and a mustache that did him no justice,’ according to Paice. So they worked on that next, and years later, the singer commented on it, saying: “Because Ian Gillan was such a gorgeous man, they basically wanted to make sure I got this caterpillar shaved off my upper lip… They needed to get me a little more groomed.” David Coverdale recorded three albums with Deep Purple after formally joining the band with a few changes until they split in 1976. Following the breakup, he pursued a solo career before joining Whitesnake. Today, the vocalist is awaiting his band’s final tour, which was canceled in 2022 due to health difficulties.

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