Legendary Whitesnake Line-Up That Never Played in UK

Whitesnake was a band that underwent one too many lineup changes in their history. That was simply the way it was, and it was David Coverdale’s well-known modus operandi. That said, some lineups were more attractive to the fans than others. One of the most legendary lineups, when the band was only a four-piece, consisted of David Coverdale, John Sykes, Neil Murray, and Cozy Powell.

They made history by playing legendary shows like Super Rock in Japan or The Monsters of Rock in Brazil. The interesting thing is that this lineup, which went down in history, actually never played in their home ground – the United Kingdom.

This story starts at the end of 1983 and goes to January of 1985. Essentially, it is the story of Whitesnake in 1984, when a lot of things happened in just one single year.

Changing Faces and New Direction

The band’s sixth studio album, Slide It In, saw the introduction of some new faces. Mel Galley, the former guitarist of Trapeze, bassist Colin ‘Bomber’ Hodgkinson, and drummer Cozy Powell joined the band. By the time this album was released in the UK in January 1984, Neil Murray, who had previously been a Whitesnake bassist from 1978 to 1982, had replaced Hodgkinson. Coverdale had been impressed by Murray’s performance with Gary Moore at Donington and had decided to bring him back on board.

With their new lineup, Whitesnake started to shift their musical style. The band was moving away from its blues roots, and Slide It In represented a significant milestone on that path. The album was tougher, leaner, and more focused than its predecessor, Saints & Sinners. However, almost none of the personnel that recorded it would remain for the album that finally broke into the US market: 1987.

Unexpected Events

During this period things weren’t smooth behind the scenes. Some band members were unhappy with the way things were going, especially guitarist Micky Moody. Micky Moody had been growing frustrated with the increasing importance of John Kalodner, the ambitious A&R director of the band’s US label, Geffen Records. Things between him and David Coverdale were not good either:

“Me and David weren’t friends and co-writers anymore. David never said anything to me. He just didn’t socialise with me anymore. David was a guy who five, six years earlier was my best friend. “

Micky Moody felt left out and eventually quit the band at the end of 1983. It seemed like Whitesnake was becoming less of a team and more about David Coverdale calling the shots. One of his biggest decisions of that time was to invite blond Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes into the Whitesnake ranks.

Coverdale, Sykes, Gailey, Murray, Powell and John Lord lineup started 1984 with a fury on a European Tour. However, some unfortunate events started occurring at that time. Guitarist Mel Galley had a terrible accident in Germany, which made David Coverdale rethink things and eventually kicking him out of the band. Jon Lord also left the band around this time as Deep Purple announced their comeback. With all these changes, the sound of Whitesnake was really just guitars, bass, drums, and David’s vocals. Therefore no permanent keyboard player was added to the band.

Four piece line-up

In the April – May of 1984, Whitesnake became a four piece live band for the first and only time in history.

Conquering America was a big deal for Whitesnake. Everyone knew that’s where the big success was. John Kalodner dismissed the original production by Martin Birch as “dated”. Keith Olsen was brought in to remix Slide It In. This allowed John Sykes and Neil Murray to contribute their parts. The new US edition started to gain popularity, and Whitesnake supported Quiet Riot, followed by some performances with Dio.

This four piece line-up consisting of David Coverdale, John Sykes, Neil Murray and Cozy Powell lasted until the Monsters Of Rock concert in January 1985 when Cozy Powell left the band. His departure was due to disagreements over how the band’s earnings should be split. Nonetheless, the band’s popularity continued to rise, with MTV embracing the singles ‘Slow An’ Easy’ and ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’.

They never played UK

The most interesting part and the whole point of this article was the fact that this legendary lineup actually never played in the UK. The previous one with John Lord and Mel Galley did, but all those concerts occurred from January to April of 1984. The last one in the UK was on April 5th in Manchester, and John Lord left the band 11 days after the show in Stockholm. The tour continued in June, starting in Switzerland, but without any UK dates all the way to 1985 when this lineup eventually broke up. You can double check all this on Setlist.FM.

Despite their success and the changes they went through, it remains a regret that the UK never got to see this legendaryf our piece line-up (it remains a regret that this line-up lasted so short whatsoever). The powerful combination of talents that made up Whitesnake during this period left a lasting legacy. They may not have played in the UK, but their performances continues to resonate with fans worldwide in the form of legendary concerts such are Super Rock in Japan, Monsters Of Rock in Brazil and many more.

Speaking of line-up changes, check out our – ultimate guide to every Whitesnake guitarist so far.

If you are a vinyl or CD lover, grab your copy of Slide It In 35th anniversary edition – on this link.

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