David Coverdale Recalls Discovering Steve Vai’s Talent Through ‘Crossroads’

Whitesnake icon David Coverdale revealed how he realized former Frank Zappa and David Lee Roth guitarist Steve Vai’s potential during his appearance on the Whitesnake TV Youtube channel. Coverdale’s way of choosing him as a new guitar player might be surprising for the longtime followers.

The musical drama movie ‘Crossroads,’ written by John Fusco, starred Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, and Jami Gertz. It focuses on the story of 17-year-old Eugene Martone, who starts his quest to find a missing song. Along with the ‘Karate Kid’ star, there was a familiar face for Zappa and Roth fans, Steve Vai. The famous guitarist appeared as the devil’s virtuosic guitar player in a guitar duel scene for the iconic film.

Vai not only impressed people with his acting but also drew Coverdale’s attention with his playing. The frontman hired him to replace Adrian Vandenberg, who suffered from an injury at the time. Whitesnake released their eighth studio album entitled ‘Slip of the Tongue’ on November 7, 1989, in the US, featuring Vai as the guitarist.

In a recent video released on Whitesnake’s Youtube channel, Coverdale remembered the time when he approached Vai. David stated that he didn’t listen to the musician’s performance when he was with Zappa and Alcatrazz. The vocalist admitted that he discovered Vai’s extraordinary talent when he watched ‘Crossroads.’ Since Vandenberg wasn’t available to serve as a guitarist, Coverdale said he reached out to Vai to ask him to work with his band.

Coverdale stated in his interview that:

I had Vai on my mind ever since the movie ‘Crossroads.’ I had been unaware of his involvement with Frank Zappa and the band Alcatrazz. He didn’t come on my radar until watching the movie, loosely based on Robert Johnson’s lost song. He plays the devil’s guitar slinger, and Ry Cooder is the musical director; he’s the one playing Ralph Macchio’s guitar. Electrifying. The way he was presenting it, the guitar was the extension of his body.

I’m going ‘You’re going to see this guy.’ It was just not keen or no enthusiasm. I kept my eyes on him, and I approached Steve. I promised to give Adrian a place for the whole album, but it was not to be. So, that escalated my approach to Steve because we were so far behind time. We had Steve doing his guitar in the studio, and I was working on keyboards things that the record planned. It was crazy times. Meanwhile, the 87 album was still hot, and it was the intimidating thing to follow.”

You can check out the video and album below.