[hand] [face]
The Original Deep Purple Web Pages
The Highway Star

The singing salesman

David Coverdale with Whitesnake in Shizuoka, October 10, 2016; photo © Kei Ono cc-by-nc-sa

Louder Sound reprints a Classic Rock interview with David Coverdale from 2011. It is a long read, covering everything from a Saltburn-by-the-Sea schoolboy listening to Elvis through to the latest at the time Whitesnake album Forevermore.

One time a guy came in the shop while I was reading the Melody Maker. And he knew I sang and said sarcastically I should go after the job with Deep Purple, and walked out laughing. I went back to reading and right there in the Melody Maker was a picture of Jon Lord sitting at the organ, a bit Monty Python like, with a little line that said: “Deep Purple are still looking for a singer and are considering unknowns.” That was all it took.

So I went round the corner to a public telephone box, and called a guy called Roger Barker, who managed the local band I was with, and I asked if he had any contact numbers for Deep Purple. He gave them to me. They wanted a demo and a photo, so I sent them something I’d done when I happened to be very drunk. Ian Paice was the one who collected my tape from the Purple office. And apparently he called Ritchie [Blackmore] and said: “I think I’ve found somebody. He’s rat-arse drunk but he’s got a good tone.” So they set up an audition for me. They never asked me to do any Purple songs at the audition, but Ritchie said: “Is there anything of ours you want to do?” So I sang my version of Strange Kind Of Woman, more expressive, moving around the melody rather than following the guitar, or whatever, and Ritchie came over and said that’s how he’d heard it when he first wrote it. Which was really cool to hear, as you can imagine.

Read more in Louder Sound.

And speaking of Classic Rock reprints, another one is a Joe Elliott interview done on the occasion of his contribution to the Re-machined tribute album. In this chat, Joe professes his love for all things Purple, and shares some anecdotes:

Have Def Leppard ever crossed paths with Deep Purple over the years?

Ian Gillan and I did a duet on his Gillan’s Inn album called I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight. It’s a cover of the Dylan song, and it was great fun. For 20 years or more we swapped Christmas cards. We first met Ian Paice in 1983 when Def Leppard had just started to go ballistic in America. We were touring with Krokus and Jon Butcher Axis were supporting. Jon Butcher lasted a little while and then Gary Moore came out instead, and Gary had Ian Paice on drums. Here we were – 22 years old or something – and we had Ian Paice playing drums in the band that were third on the bill to us! We were all going up to him and saying, ‘Er… I’m really sorry…’ But he just burst out laughing and told us, ‘Don’t be so fucking daft.’ Then he started telling us stories about how when he goes into restaurants and can’t get a table, he says, ‘Don’t you know who I used to be?’

Have you had any experiences of The Man In Black?

Def Leppard opened for Rainbow in Europe in 1981. I remember Ritchie saying to me, ‘I want you to watch the audience tonight during Long Live Rock’N’Roll.’ So I stood at the side of the stage and he winked at me and then went down in to the pit with a box full of tomatoes and started throwing them at [Rainbow singer] Joe Lynn Turner. Of course, Joe couldn’t see Ritchie because of the spotlight and so he starts berating the crowd thinking they’re throwing them at him. People talk about the moody man in black, but I saw a different Ritchie Blackmore when we toured with him.

Read more in Louder Sound.

29 Comments to “The singing salesman”:

  1. 1
    Gregster says:


    Here’s a Joe Elliot quote from the above article…

    qt.”I stood at the side of the stage and he (RB) winked at me and then went down in to the pit with a box full of tomatoes and started throwing them at Joe Lynn Turner”…


    What a great guy he is eh ???…Too bad it wasn’t GH on stage, as I would have helped & thrown at least another 1,000-boxes worth.

    Peace !

  2. 2
    Thorsun says:

    Seems to me that there are singers and singers… I can’t see Ritchie being that brave-y and throwing the tomatoes from the pit at IG or Ronnie James… 🤭Too big risk he’d eventually had his share of heavy fists or his butt kicked, had he done so…

    😅’Em all filthy rockandrollers back in the days of yore!😆

  3. 3
    Ivica says:

    I love these guys, they are a good part of my life
    David Coverdale ?..I love him, the first songs in DP (Big Ian will always be the first voice of DP …BUT ) until Soldier of Fortune ..for some DP fans a banal ballad ..for my generation (in the Balkans) a fatal ballad that we entered fell in love, loved … on par with
    “Nights in White Satin”, “Yesterday,Nazareth” Love Hurts, etc., etc. When someone sings the song Mistried at the age of 23, as David did on CJ 1974, he deserves respect. In the end, the leader of the most successful formation of all ex-DP . OK, in 1987 he made a musical treason..but, I understand, he ensured his livelihood. And the thing I have to respect.. my wife, daughter, my granddaughter love his music. I have to appreciate it for the sake of peace in my family 🙂
    The story of Joe Elliott, tomatoes and JLT …haha .I don’t know those guys from Mk II personally .reading ..you don’t get into their musical enormous talent anymore personally ….note Jon Lord was a cavalier and charming man, Paice humble and a pleasant man, normal, Roger’s voice and his eyes show that he is a nice, kind guy…only Ritchie and Ian are special characters.
    Maybe if Ian had the character of Rod Stewart it might have gone over with Ritchie !?
    Ritchie unpredictable warm devil … his ex-singers should have endured all those non-musical situations.
    In the end, Candice brought her to some kind of …normal…love won!:)

  4. 4
    Georgivs says:


    He did throw spaghetti in IG’s face, didn’t he? That wasn’t done in the concert hall settings, but it was still meant as a bit of constructive if cheeky feedback to IG’s performances and personality, wasn’t it?

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “What a great guy he is eh ???…Too bad it wasn’t GH on stage, as I would have helped & thrown at least another 1,000-boxes worth.

    Peace !”

    Content and formal greeting at the end are somewhat oxymoronic, but coherence is generally an endangered species in this day and age.

  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I saw the hearing- (and spelling!-) impaired feline in 1981 in Frankfurt opening for Rainbow.


    They were musically terrible, a wall of noise, a garage and garbage band with a baby fat pudgy singer, but I noticed cohesion among them as a band. I made a mental note. They had a tough time with the Rainbow crowd.

    Isaw them not much later again – only six months actually -, opening for Priest on their Point Of Entry tour, second on the bill with a fledgling Accept being the real opener.


    It was incredible how much they had improved, better songs, arrangements, sound, presentation, they were really quite entertaining and went down well (Priest audiences have a good reputation of giving opening acts a chance).

    Fast forward to 1988, Pyromania and Hysteria have turned platinum, Rick Allen (an Ian Paice fan btw and Paicey rated his drumming too, he said as much in an interview) has tragically lost his arm. They came as Conquerors from the West, all those US tours had honed them into a perfect stadium act, and they gave a great performance in Frankfurt’s then largest hall.


    Def Leppard are for me the arch-example how far you can get from very humble beginnings by just sticking to it and working for your dream. Because of that I really have a soft spot for them. And I like how Joe, by now a very wealthy man, supports his former idols such as Ian Hunter/Mott the Hoople and Doctors of Madness who weren’t as fortunate. He also once said something very brave and perceptive about Def Leppard:

    “No one in our band is really special, we don’t have a virtuoso, we’re just average. But when we work together as a team, something magical happens and we’re all of the sudden a force to be reckoned with.”

    I agree.

  7. 7
    DeeperPurps says:

    Glad tidings of joy and peace to Mr. Gregster @ 1. My wish for this Christmas, just for you…..the well overdue reunion of the greatest guitarist to ever have walked the earth, one Mr. Ritchie Blackmore; with one of the greatest voices of rock and gung-ho gonzo bass-player extraordinaire Mr. Glenn Hughes, in a Deep Purple Mark III-flavoured extravaganza. Their respective abrasive introvert and exuberant extrovert personalities aside, it would be a pairing of musicianship and virtuosity of the highest order. No tomatoes needed!

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “He did throw spaghetti in IG’s face, didn’t he? That wasn’t done in the concert hall settings, but it was still meant as a bit of constructive if cheeky feedback to IG’s performances and personality, wasn’t it?”

    No, it wasn’t, Georgivs. Blackmore had received a plate of spaghetti in his own private dressing room and there was too much ketchup/tomato sauce on it for his taste. He thought Gillan was behind it, went to his dressing room, accused him “Gillan, did you do this?!” and wham!!! Gillan is supposed to have been flabbergasted, he had nothing to do with the amount of tomato sauce on Ritchie’s plate. Ritchie realized that later and apologized, but it goes to show that the two couldn’t work together anymore, both nurturing grievances inside of what the other guy had supposedly done to them – real or imagined. Imagine the scene, these guys were mddle-aged men by then, not young adults or teens.

    Looking back at it, not funny at all, but rather emotionally desparate. Poor anger management too. Ritchie has (had?) a habit of scorching earth and then conveniently forgetting that he did, rather innocently professing wonderment what all the fuss is about. Other people have a longer memory though.

    Whether flying spaghetti or rocketing water cups, sure you can wash out the stains and the blouses will dry eventually, but it destroys a band’s bonding and is deeply unprofessional and inconsiderate. Imagine this happening at your place of work.

    Throwing tomatoes at Joe in jest to unsettle him was another matter, that was a practical joke. With Ritchie, those can very often cross the line of what is funny too (and I’m not sure about his reaction if he were the receiving end, like if someone sabotaged the tone controls of his Strat or Marshall for fun?), but they were at least not ill-intentioned. The spaghetti incident, however, was momentary revenge hate and appalling lack of self-control.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    That Coverdale interview is nicely in depth (I had read it before, but it was worth a revisit), revealing more behind the man than he usually does with his smoke screen of dazzling grandeur.

  10. 10
    MacGregor says:

    Another Blackmore moment to add the the list, throwing tomatoes at JLT, classic. Not really very professional though & as Uwe said, it would be a very different story if the boot was on the other foot. Cheers.

  11. 11
    Georgivs says:


    When it comes to spaghetti, I might take an issue, too. I like my spaghetti slightly undercooked with just a little olive oil in it. The amount of catchup depends solely on my mood at the moment. I know that and I am the only person who is able to properly cook spaghetti for myself. Volunteering to make spaghetti for me is generally not a good idea and is not appreciated. If someone still insists on making it for me and gets it wrong, it roughly amounts to a high treason and may prompt some creative feedback from me.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    That’s all you ever think about, Georgivs, food and that other thing. Two track mind, where will it all end?

  13. 13
    AndreA says:

    Oh my God, what is happened to Ian?


  14. 14
    Gregster says:


    There may be some errors in your replies Herr Uwe…

    1.qt.”Blackmore had received a plate of spaghetti in his own private dressing room and there was too much ketchup/tomato sauce on it for his taste”.

    *** I’m sure on the RB Story DVD this incident occurred around a dinner table, since Jon Lord is mentioned & others quickly moving away saying “Oh no”…Because RB actually asked IG in-front of everyone “Did you do this to my food” ?…

    2.qt”Looking back at it, not funny at all, but rather emotionally desperate. Poor anger management too”.

    *** Perhaps in your opinion Sir…Others may find IG’s gesture more childish…But here-we-go, tennis again…

    3.qt”Whether flying spaghetti or rocketing water cups, sure you can wash out the stains and the blouses will dry eventually, but it destroys a band’s bonding and is deeply unprofessional and inconsiderate. Imagine this happening at your place of work”.

    *** It’s called letting-off-steam, the result from the activity of IG letting RB know what an asshole he is…But I must admit that you don’t mess with anyone’s food, that is poor taste…

    That said, when you’re a sea-farer, expect a bucket of off-food etc to be dropped over your head, as initiation from Poseidon & Neptune, for crossing over the equator the first time…

    4.qt.”Throwing tomatoes at Joe in jest to unsettle him was another matter, that was a practical joke”.

    ***So it’s OK to throw tomatoes at a band-mate, but not to retaliate when a band-mate messes with your food…Gotcha 😉 !

    The law, trials, tribulations & results according to Leiber Uwe folks…Take care !

    Peace !

  15. 15
    Georgivs says:

    Uwe, you are right. Two track mind. Food is still king. That other thing recedes as I am getting older. That other other thing has already receded, down to one pint a week. And that other other other thing than so many people had indulged in back in the 1970-80s has never interested me much. I guess eventually I will arrive to where Ritchie is now, and that’ll be not a bad ending.

    And therefore, here are my words of wisdom to the future generations: millennials (my ex wife), Gen Z (my older one), Gen Alpha (my younger one) – don’t let anyone touch your spaghetti while it’s being made, and generously share it with people around when it’s ready. Be like Ritchie and the state of enlightenment will descend upon thee.

  16. 16
    Max says:

    @ 3

    Nice read, Ivica – and I agree, especially when it comes to Soldier of Fortune. I always wondered why this isn’t more popular. It is one of the greatest songs anyone ever did in my opinion.

  17. 17
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Lieber Gregster, my understanding is that Ian was unjustly accused by Ritchie in the Spaghetti Incident, Ritchie said as much in a much later interview (one thing you can say about him is that he owns up to previous mistakes). And that he apologized which is perhaps why Gillan doesn’t discuss what happened anymore.

    But assuming Gillan had been the culprit, wouldn’t that have been a practical joke akin to students spicing up a hot chili for a fellow student as a prank (but even more harmless)? And wouldn’t then Ritchie’s over-reaction of employing physical force throw an unfortunate light on his own ability to suffer pranks? What would he have done if Joe Lynn Turner after the Thrown Tomatoes Incident picked up some of the mush and smeared it into his face, “letting off steam”?

    Alas!, when the King is in a jesty mood, the peasants dutifully laugh, yet grow fearful.

    Georgivs, you’re my favorite PPP man 💕, pasta & personal philosophy, no one merges the two like you!

  18. 18
    Rock Voorne says:

    Once learned things from one of these Italian mafia films in where the fellas secured privileges and cooked for themselves in jail.

    I think it was Good Fellas.

    What I learned that one needs both pork and beef for ingredients in pasta.

    It just tasts better.

    I wonder how vegans get away with their creativity in a country that seems very proud of doing it the right way.

  19. 19
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Vegans are a media invention, they don’t really exist.

    I just got stuck in some Airport eatery that indeed offered only vegan stuff – I spent ten minutes looking around for something I might like to eat and then bought a soft drink and left.

    And of course a Bolognese needs both: porc and beef.

  20. 20
    RB says:

    @19 Vegans do exist, I know several.

    @ Ritchie shouldn’t ever try to come back to rock music, the most recent Rainbow gigs from 2016 onwards showed he struggles. He can’t play at the same tempo, he’s much less dextrous and fluid due to arthritis etc, it was just sad to see and listen to, and anything after that is only going to be worse. Could have happened years ago when he could produce the goods live, but has manager/mother-in-law would not want Ritchie to work with others when Candice isn’t involved (she was badly shoe-horned into backing vocals for the Rainbow ‘reformation,’ and she doesn’t have a good enough voice to carry that off well), so no wonder the likes of Jon, Glenn or David could get through to speaking with Ritchie.

  21. 21
    Gregster says:


    @17…”Who did this & who did that”… It doesn’t really matter, doesn’t change a thing, & we can’t do anything about it ! Little-too-late, & not being present are good enough reasons for letting the water flow under the bridge imo.

    And from my perspective, & on the basis that I was JLT, & the guitarist of my band “the star” did actually walk off-stage in the middle of the gig to throw tomatoes at me, I’d firstly make sure that it was true, & if it was true, hand in my resignation, & leave with some dignity, since the boss has none. Once again, what an asshole.

    I’m so glad RB left DP.

    Peace !

  22. 22
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Didn’t the road crew (likely under instigation from Blackers) hogtie poor JoeLT at a French Rainbow gig (last gig of the tour, when pranks and acts of derring-do are tradition) and suspend the New Jersey boy roped +butt-naked from the lighting rig while the band played instrumentally? Joe didn’t think it was funny (the road crew though did) and is reputed to have used copious amounts of foul language and physical threats during and after his ascension. ‘Somewhere over the rainbow” alright!

  23. 23
    Svante Axbacke says:

    @22: No, the suspended guy was ET, the legendary Danish promotor Erik Thomsen. 🙂 He was also left naked in a field somewhere far from home on some tour. https://www.thehighwaystar.com/thsblog/2006/05/31/erik-thomsen-rip/

  24. 24
    MacGregor says:

    I do remember a Lemmy video where he mentions a guy being stripped naked & put in a car on a ferry somewhere & left there, something like that. Anyway is is Lemmy’s tribute to Blackmore as one of the funniest pranks that he has ever heard in the rock ‘n roll circus world. Cheers.


  25. 25
    Svante Axbacke says:

    Yeah, there are so many stories, one can’t keep track of when it happened and who was the poor sod being abused. Or, if they even are true? But as Gillan said to me once, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.

  26. 26
    Gregster says:


    Amen !

    You might be losing-it Herr Uwe…Better to research a little before posting…GH is eating away at your brain, & you need to settle-some…

    Erik went red-in-the-face for trying to shyte on Cozy whilst suspended according to Bob Daisley…Check-out the interview on the Rainbow Live in Munich 1977 DVD.

    Peace !

  27. 27
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Thanks Svante, so JoeLT got lucky this time. 😉

  28. 28
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Forgive me, I never took much of an interest in Ritchie’s pranks, they seemed very juvenile/boarding school’ish to me (though Ritchie never went to one, at least that I know) and they always smacked of hierarchical humor to me. I’ve outgrown that type of humor since I was in my early teens though I wasn’t averse to it as a kid. One of my childhood pranks was blowing up a mail box – the mail box never got repaired and is in its dilapidated state (lid blown off etc) to this day. I swear, every time I pass it when I’m coincidentally in my home town, I take a guilty look at it. THAT MAIL BOX KNOWS I (and a friend) DID IT !!! One of these days – preferably before I leave this world – I will step out of the car/off the bike and ask someone working in the garden if it is his/her house and if (s)he affirms give her/him the money to get a new one without explaining anything to then drive off into the sunset with all my more major sins cleansed. 😂 I have a more than 50 year old debt to pay (my wife laughs every time we pass that house: “Feeling guilty again?!”).

    Did he ever pull one of his pranks on Jon or Little Ian or were those two sacrosanct?

  29. 29
    MacGregor says:

    All those Mailboxes NEVER forget UWE. Good luck when you reach the
    Pearly Gates or should that be the Gates of Hell? Either way, you are as guilty as sin itself. Having said that, where does that leave me standing or should I say, wallowing in self pity? Guilty again I am afraid, all those ‘crackers’ exploding in all those mailboxes & when we were all so innocent. Cheers.

Add a comment:

Preview no longer available -- once you press Post, that's it. All comments are subject to moderation policy.

||||Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as the real thing
© 1993-2024 The Highway Star and contributors
Posts, Calendar and Comments RSS feeds for The Highway Star