David Coverdale marked the 30th anniversary of Whitesnake‘s hit single “Is This Love” by admitting he still feels nervous singing it in front of festival audiences because he fears they won’t like it.
The track was originally written with Tina Turner in mind before Coverdale’s collaborator at the time, guitarist John Sykes, turned it into something that felt more like a Whitesnake song. “Is This Love” appeared on the band’s self-titled 1987 album and became its second single, following “Here I Go Again” to the top of the charts worldwide. Whitesnake recently released a 30th-anniversary reissue of the LP.
“‘Is This Love’ had a bit of a different lyric, which I really enjoyed,” Coverdale explained in a new video (which you can watch above) that goes into detail about how he retreated to the south of France for writing sessions in 1986. “I was messing about with this idea for Tina Turner, the amazing, luminous Tina Turner – I would still love to hear her perform it. I was playing it on piano … [Sykes] said, ‘What is that?’ I went, ‘It’s not for us.’”
His feelings began to change when Sykes took out his guitar and began applying “incredibly embellishments, just entirely naturally.” “The song just unfolded in a beautiful way,” Coverdale said. “I still never thought of Whitesnake recording it as a full ballad,” because the song carries a similar dynamic throughout, unlike most of the group’s songs that feature “the band exploding and taking over.”
Whitesnake’s record company told him, “No, no, no, you’re keeping that,” Coverdale recalled. “I was a bit nervous about it – until it was a smash hit!” But, he added, “At times we’ll play these big heavy metal dark festivals, and I’ll go, ‘I wonder if we should drop “Is This Love” – but no, they’re all there, all these big guys in leather coats, Iron Maiden T-shirts, ‘Is this love … ’ It’s adorable. It’s a good vibe, a very positive vibe song.”