Whitesnake has had it’s fair share of talented axe men over the years covering a range of styles from blues slide to fret melting hard rock. It’s also been one of those bands that has had more line-ups than hot dinners (check out this Whitesnake family tree). The following list reads like an A-Z of guitar heroes however and makes you realise that aside from Ozzy Osborne, David Coverdale is probably one of the world’s best talent spotters. Enjoy!
Bernie Marsden & Micky Moody
Bernie Marsden along with Micky Moody formed the original classic line up and the Coverdale / Marsden / Moody writing team was quite formidable in its time producing some of the bands best albums and most memorable songs including ‘Fool for you living’, ‘Crying in the rain’, ‘Here I go again’ and ‘Ain’t no love in the heart of the city’. This classic Whitesnake line-up lasted from 1978-1982 after which David Coverdale dropped the bluesy rhythm and blues sound for a much more commercial american tone.
Finest Hour: Micky Moody’s slide guitar solo on the ‘Live in the Heart of the City’ live album
Ex-Trapeze guitarist Mel Galley joined during what was one of Whitesnake’s most turbulent periods and provided the guitar work on both ‘Saints & Sinners’ and ‘Slide It In’ albums. However US label Geffen demanded that the ‘Slide it In’ album be remixed due to it’s flat production and this led to John Sykes replacing a proportion of Moody’s work. A strong European tour followed, however it ran into trouble in Germany when Mel Galley suffered a serious arm injury during a moment of high-jinx. It would eventually lead to him having to leave the band.
Finest Hour: Victim of Love from Saints and Sinners
David Coverdale hired Sykes to join Whitesnake following the release of ‘Slide It In’ in 1984. He re-recorded some of the guitar tracks for the US release and toured in support of the album, culminating with the 1985 ‘Rock in Rio’ festival.
Sykes co-wrote the majority of the songs on Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album with David Coverdale, and recorded the guitar as well as some backing vocal tracks. Near the end of the 1987 sessions however Coverdale fired the entire band (allegedly because of personality clashes and matters of ego) and brought in Adrian Vandenberg to record the solo on ‘Here I Go Again’.
Sykes had one of the most profound influences on the band having contributed the powerful signature guitar sound that led to the band’s most commercially successful album. This album still remains essential listening for any rock guitarist.
Finest Hour: Solos on ‘Still of the Night’ and ‘Crying in the rain’
In 1987 Vivian Campbell joined Whitesnake after John Sykes was fired by David Coverdale shortly after recording was completed. Campbell along with Adrian van den Berg was recruited to replace Sykes in the new, glammed-up Whitesnake Coverdale had put together to conquer MTV and American audiences. This was to be a short lived affaire however and Campbell left Whitesnake after the band’s 1987-1988 world tour.
Adrian Van den berg
Van den Berg was originally the lead guitarist for the Dutch band Teaser, a band that released a self-titled album in 1978. He is however most famous for being the most prominent guitar player for Whitesnake during the bands most successful period during the late 80′s.
Initially he was hired as a session musician, helping to complete the hit album ‘Whitesnake’ (known as 1987 in Europe) where he contributed the solo to their #1 hit ‘Here I Go Again’.
After an extremely successful world tour and extensive airplay for their 3 videos on MTV, van den Berg co-wrote all of the music to the follow-up album Slip of the Tongue. However, in preparing to enter the studio for the recording sessions, he severly injured his wrist performing isometric piano warm up exercises and was unable to contribute any guitar work to the album “Slip of the Tongue”. Steve Vai was subsequently brought in to finish the recording of the album
He did recover in time to join the following tour in a now ‘trademark’ dual guitarist role with Steve Vai. After Whitesnake was disbanded in 1991, he returned as part of other Whitesnake incarnations including the 1994 Whitesnake’s Greatest Hits reunion/tour. He once again co-wrote the songs for the 1997 album Restless Heart with Coverdale and also collaborated with Coverdale on the Whitesnake unplugged acoustic album, Starkers in Tokyo.
Finest Hour: Incredible guitar solo during 1990′s headlining performance at Donnington’s Monsters of Rock.
After Adrian Vendenberg injured his wrist Steve Vai was imported by David Coverdale to record both lead and rhythm guitar parts on the album ‘Slip of The Tongue’ in van den Berg’s stead. Steve Vai became an official member of the band and appeared in all of the band’s new music videos. He also toured in support of the album and played with Whitesnake when they headlined the 1990 ‘Monsters of Rock’ Festival at Donnington Park. After the last show of the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ ‘Liquor and poker’ tour in 1990 however Coverdale decided he would fold the band and Steve Vai moved on to pursue a successful solo career.
Finest Hour: Kittens got Claws and Sailing Ships on Slip of the Tongue.
Reb Beach is best known for his work in the melodic rock band Winger in the late 80′s to mid 90′s. However he has been involved with Whitesnake since 2004 and has appeared on both 2008′s ‘Good to Be Bad’ and the recent ‘Forevermore’. He has now formed a solid guitar partnership with Doug Aldrich in what is now one of the most dynamic and exciting periods of the band’s history.
Doug Aldrich had previously with the bands Dio, Lion, Hurricane, House of Lords, and Bad Moon Rising and has also released several solo albums. He has however enjoyed one of the most succesful periods of his career with Whitesnake and has created some of the bands most iconic guitars moments. Along with Reb Beach he has played on the last two albums ‘Good to Be Bad’ and ‘Forevermore’ and has proven himself a solid songwriter having contributed the title track to Forevermore.
Finest Hour: The epic Forevermore