Whitesnake‘s self-titled 1987 album marked a pinnacle of commerciality in heavy music as the band climbed the charts and sold out show across the globe on the back of massive hits such as “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love,” the latter of which David Coverdale originally wrote with the intention of handing it to superstar singer Tina Turner to use.
In a series of video shorts in promotion of Whitesnake’s new Greatest Hits compilation (out now), Coverdale opens up about the hit ballad and whether or not there was concern that a rock and metal audience would be turned off by a radio-friendly track such as “Is This Love.”
“Slightly, yeah,” Coverdale begins (transcription via Blabbermouth), “The original idea was for Tina Turner. My friends and associates at EMI Records were looking for songs to follow up Tina’s astonishing story. The album with ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ was huge, global, and they were looking for songs. And they knew I was going away to do the old correlation of song ideas and said, ‘If you come up with anything that you think might be good for Tina’ — ’cause they knew I was a huge fan — let us know. So that was the idea — the original idea for ‘Is This Love’ was for Tina.”
Speaking about the song’s creation, Coverdale recalls that he and guitarist John Sykes had rather opposing work schedules, with the singer keeping to a daytime routine while Sykes preferred to get out of bed in the late afternoon.
As Coverdale was working on “Is This Love,” Sykes heard it and, going back to that moment, Coverdale explains, “And he said, ‘Oh, what’s that? That’s nice.’ I said, ‘Oh, it’s not for us. It’s for Tina Turner.’ Anyway, he gets his coffee, sits down and starts playing these… It was just this organic thing. These ideas just fed really beautiful things that I wouldn’t have come up with. Maybe John wouldn’t have come up with the chords, but the embellishments were just part of the whole package of the song. And when Geffen heard it, I said, ‘No, no, no. This is for Tina Turner.’ [And they said,] ‘No, it’s not.’ And it’s one of the biggest songs that we have.”
The most recent RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) certification of Whitesnake came in 1995 when the album was certified eight times platinum.
“Is This Love” is one of several iconic tracks included on the newest Greatest Hits album and fans hoping to hear the song live will have their last opportunity ahead as Whitesnake are in the midst of a farewell tour. They’ll be hitting stages in North America with Scorpions later this year at these dates.
David Coverdale Looks Back on Whitesnake’s “Is This Love”
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