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Robinson, Simon
Whitesnake: An Illustrated Biography (Book Review)
December 2012
Released: 1989, Omnibus
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

I have often wondered why there hasn’t been a book about Whitesnake. Most of the biggest bands of the 70’s have already had a book or three written about them (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Rainbow, UFO, BOC, AC/DC etc) but oddly no book about Whitesnake, or so I thought. I was browsing in a used record store this summer (2012) and to my surprise I did find a book about Whitesnake, one I never knew existed. At first glance I thought it was a tablature book, based on the look of the cover and size and thickness of the book. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was some sort of glossy, commercial, unauthorized ‘illustrated biography’ that was published in 1989. Of course those are all warning flags, as there are many books dumped onto the market to capitalize on the success of a musical act (of any genre) in hopes that fans of the album will buy the book. Normally I would shy away from this type of book, but a dollar or two I purchased this 23 year old book, that was still in remarkably good shape.

WHITESNAKE: AN ILUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY was written by Simon Robinson and published in England in 1989 and is actually very well done. The oversized paperback is just under 100 pages long and is printed on nice thick glossy paper which brings out the colour on the photos and there are dozens, maybe even a hundred black and white photos as well. There are many, many photos of rare singles, pictures discs and international pressings in the massive 10-page discography. This is how all discographies should be done. The photos bring the albums to life and I had never seen many of the images from around the world. Again, normally a glossy photo book would not attract my attention but the script is actually very informative. Yes, it could be considered a ‘fluff’ piece, rather than a hard-hitting expose of the band, but there is enough information to make it a valuable piece for any Whitesnake fan. There is also a comprehensive Family Tree as well which is cool to look at.

The book documents the history of the band, focusing on not surprisingly the life of founder David Coverale. The first couple of chapter set the stage and then the next ten chapters cover the first decade of the band, 1977-1987 or so, basically one chapter per year. There is a fair amount of detail and lots of pictures helping to bring his past to life. Although the swaggering, lion-maned vocalist is the focus there is no shortage of info about ‘the band’ and all the people, the musicians, who have come and gone over the years who helped the singer make it, including lots of shots of Micky Moody and his silly hat, biker moustache and ever-present goofy grin!

For 20 years I suppose this stood as the only Whitesnake book (to the best of my knowledge) until of course February of 2012 when Rufus Stone publishers released a pretty massive Whitesnake biography. It was also co-written by Simon Robinson who is like THE Whitesnake guy, so die-hard fans will want to snap that up as well, although the $250.00+ dollar price tag might discourage some people. I’m also looking forward to the day that David Coverdale decides to write and publish his autobiography, but until then WHITESNAKE: AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY is a pretty cool addition to the library of a Whitesnake fan.
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