Rudy Sarzo On David Coverdale: ‘He’s A Blues Singer’

In a recent chat with Mike Z, Rudy Sarzo shared his experience working on an R&B-influenced song with David Coverdale during his run with the band in the late ’80s. Sarzo, talking about Whitesnake’s 1989 power ballad ‘The Deeper The Love,’ said:

“It was interesting because it was David’s tip of the hat to R&B. You know, he grew up with R&B and blues. He’s really a blues singer. So, it was his approach of like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna [do it] in this record.’ He originally wrote ‘Is This Love?’ for Tina Turner. Speaking of R&B! So, his ballads have become more of that sensuous R&B type of vibe to them. So, here we have ‘The Deeper The Love.’ It’s pretty much the same thing.”

He mentioned his and the band’s approach to their style in the track:

“So, we had to approach it – we had to say, ‘Okay, let’s take off this heavy metal hat or hard rock blues, and let’s go back to our roots of Motown!’ Which is what I did on that song. I mean, I wasn’t trying to play like James Jamerson, but definitely give it more room and let it pump and breath a little bit in that direction rather than more in-your-face type of metal.”

R&B Influenced The Frontman’s Music And Career

Coverdale formed Whitesnake after leaving Deep Purple for a more blues-rock direction in the late ’70s. His solo works and songs with his new band often showed the influence of R&B on him, as he also mentioned during some interviews.

The original Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray also spoke about his former bandmate’s musical style in a 2021 interview with Rolling Stone:

“Yeah. His solo albums’ White Snake’ and ‘Northwinds’ were much more American R&B – bluesy, funky, laid-back, much less heavy than Purple. That’s definitely where he was coming from at that time, and Micky Moody was a very versatile and very American-style guitarist.”

Commenting on his guitar sound, he added:

“He played slide guitar and a bit of country, a bit of folk, all sorts mixed into one. Bernie [Marsden] was more of a straight bluesy rock guitarist. But the combination was really good between the two of them. At that time, David would have said that he much more enjoyed Bernie and Micky’s style of playing than, for example, Ritchie Blackmore’s.”

Coverdale remixed ‘The Deeper The Love’ and ‘Is This Love?’ in a 2022 reissue of 1994’s ‘Greatest Hits’ album.