David Coverdale’s Accident That Doomed Whitesnake

After saying sayonara to Deep Purple, David Coverdale‘s new venture with Whitesnake was off to a decent start. They were making waves, especially in Europe amongst other countries but never the US. To change that fact and gain more recognition, they decided to embark on a tour with AC/DC in 1980.

AC/DC, who were about to go on a trek to support their ‘Back in Black’ album for their North American and European legs of the tour, decided to partner up with Humble Pie, Def Leppard, ZZ Top, Blackfoot, Maggie Bell and of course with Whitesnake.

This tour was supposed to not only engrave their spot in Europe even more than they were able to but, most importantly, put them on the map in America, where they just had yet to have their breakthrough moment. Although they were massive in most parts of the world, making it in the US was the original band’s dream.

However, an unfortunate event prevented them from traveling to the States. Original guitarist Bernie Marsden shared with Classic Rock in 2020 that right before they were off to do the shows in the North American leg of the tour, Coverdale broke his leg in Saarbrücken, Germany. For the guitarist, if that incident hadn’t happened, they would have probably made it in the US just as they could grow a huge fanbase everywhere else.

Bernie Marsden’s words about Whitesnake’s potential read:

“The big regret for me is the original band not breaking America. Maybe these things are meant to be because we were huge everywhere else.”

“If David [Coverdale] hadn’t broken his leg in Saarbrücken on the AC/DC tour [December 1980] – just before we were due to go to the States with them as well – I fully believe that we’d have done the same in America as we had in the rest of the world.”

The accident could also be considered the final straw that pushed the band over the edge to call it quits since by ’81, the band was tired, and everyone was starting to crumble. Guitarist Micky Moody had also shared his perspective of why they couldn’t keep the lineup together in a 1997 interview with Hard Roxx Magazine, where he described the financial strains amongst other turbulent moments behind the scenes that brought the band to reconsider their future together as a band.

Micky Moody’s words about not being able to keep the band together for much longer read:

“By ’81, people were becoming tired. We had too many late nights and too much partying. We weren’t making anywhere near the money we should have been making. Whitesnake always seemed to be in debt, and I thought, ‘What is this?, We’re playing in some of the biggest places, and we’re still being told we’re in debt. Where is all the money going?.’ We hadn’t got much money out of it, and to be told you’re 200,000 pounds in debt when you just had six golden albums. It wasn’t just me cause everybody was getting tired, pissed off, and losing their sense of identity. It was over by then; we couldn’t get any further.”

Even though Whitesnake had a solid catalog of hits and albums, the money was going down the drain as they were in constant debt. As time passed, everyone got tired, which translated into their personal relationships as bandmates where no one could stand each other. So what started off as an accident when Coverdale broke his leg was the very first sign of the band’s eventual doomsday that unfortunately only took about a little bit over a year after the ‘Back in Black Tour’ with AC/DC when the band officially disbanded in ’82.