Michael Hann

King of rock

With his come-to-bed voice, Coverdale is the platonic ideal of what a rock star should be. Michael Hann meets the king of rock

‘Invest in your hair,’ advises David Coverdale, a man with a shag of the stuff glossier than a supermodel’s and as big as a guardsman’s bearskin, even at the age of 67. (He won’t say that number. He insists his age is ‘three score and seven’.)

‘People say to me: “Do you colour your hair?” And I say: “Absolutely not.” ’ He pauses for half a beat. ‘ “I have a super hairdresser who does it for me.” Some guy came on Instagram, telling me: “Come on, David, it’s time to get rid of the wig.” It’s not something I bought from Frederick’s of Hollywood, you silly bastard! It’s a crowning glory!’

David Coverdale’s hair matters because of who and what he is. Who he is, well, that would the lead singer of Whitesnake, the hard-rock band who were all over MTV in the mid-1980s with a series of videos featuring Coverdale’s then girlfriend — who rejoiced in the name of Tawny Kitaen — sometimes cavorting on the bonnet of a Jaguar, and who played the Download Festival to tens of thousands of people two weekends ago. As for what he is, think of him as the nearest thing hard rock has to its own Barry White, albeit an awful lot thinner: a seducer, a lover, a man with a come-to-bed voice, sometimes guilty of the notion that a double entendre contains one entendre too many.

He’s pretty much the platonic ideal of what a rock star should be: self-created (though he speaks like an approximation of a minor aristocrat, he was a shop assistant at a boutique called Gentry’s in Redcar when he was unexpectedly recruited to join Deep Purple in 1973); a little vain, but aware of his own vanity (‘Certainly, singing songs like “Slide It In” while wandering around with love handles from hell wouldn’t be appropriate’); and uproariously immodest: ‘The last thing I’m gonna do is blow my own trumpet… But we sell out everywhere we go, we sell a very significant amount of records, and I never ask if I can make a record, I am always approached.’

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