Whitesnake with Steve Vai . . .

The above footage isn’t the best quality but I can vouch for its authenticity as I was at this gig back in summer 1990. It was my first and only time at Donnington and various memories included a red-faced policeman — on a motorbike so woefully underpowered it resembled a moped — cringing as he putt-putted through a forest of long-haired, dishevelled metal-heads laughing their faces off at him. Also the off-license in the small town that sits beside the Donnington circuit was sold almost completely out of all stock. All that remained in view, sitting forlornly on a high shelf were one or two bottles of pink champagne. The owner gave a me sort of wistful shrug as if to say . . . take it or leave it buddy.

In honour of the fact that I’m going to see Vai in one month in London I thought I’d resurrect this old clip. Vai was never a good fit for Whitesnake. Coming so soon after the success of his solo album Passion & Warfare his decision to join Whitesnake hit me as a weird one even back then and quite a few in the metal press were bemused too. You had Vai’s Zappa-inspired left-field phasey ultra-bending coupled with David Coverdale’s growling Tap-esque sexual innuendo . . . talk about square peg in a round hole. I only went to the gig in the hope of seeing some Passion & Warfare songs and I think we got one or two.

Without being too mean Whitesnake were already something of a faded memory . . . Motley Crue, Poison, Guns N’ Roses and even Dave Lee Roth (with recently-departed Vai on guitar — a much better fit for Steve) were ruling the metal roost back then with a few UK bands trying to compete. Don’t get me wrong — if I hear the opening to “Here I go Again” while driving down the motorway it will — guaranteed — get maximum volume, likewise the above track and maybe one other. David Coverdale was always very media-wise and it’s perhaps a measure of his very savvy marketing prowess that he spotted the “seven stringed sorcerer” and pounced on the saleable asset while Vai was still just shy of the global phenomenon he would become.






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