David Coverdale says a John Sykes reunion “would never work”

“What’s the point of working with someone if I don’t think I can teach them anything or get something in return?”

Whitesnake with John Sykes in 1985

Credit: Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive via Getty

David Coverdale of Whitesnake has spoken candidly about his strained relationship with former guitarist John Sykes, who co-wrote and played on the band’s 1987 self-titled album.

Coverdale reminisced on the circumstances that led to the bad blood between the two in a new interview with Metal Edge Mag, sharing, “As you know, things went squirrely between us, which was unfortunate. But John was and is an incredible talent. Our musical chemistry was great, but it didn’t work personally. The truth of the matter is no matter how incredible of an album that we made together, we were unable to connect as people.”

While there was “creative magic” in that relationship, Coverdale continued, the chemistry ended the instant the instruments were put down. “With John, things just exploded,” Coverdale said. “I think rock bottom would have been when he tried to fire me from my own band. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over very well,” he continued.

However, Coverdale shared that a mutual acquaintance has since put the two in touch with each other once again while he was working on demos for the Into the Light LP, which initially had him considering the possibility of the two working together again.

“So, after something like 15 years of animosity, we spoke and got on well. Thoughts of working with him again crossed my mind, but the more we spoke, the more I realized that I had changed significantly, and John had been his own boss for so long, so it would never work,” he shared.

“I thought, ‘The chemistry is not going to work; it’s going to be as it was all over again; I can’t have that.’ Truthfully, I simply don’t want to do anything at this time in my life that will open the door to regret,” Coverdale continued. “I know that’s perhaps disappointing to fans, and I wish John every success, as I know he’s a much-loved and admired player. And I hope everything’s okay with him as I haven’t heard from him for a while. But I guess what guides me now is something I learned from Jimmy Page, John Lord, and the great Ritchie Blackmore, and that’s: what’s the point of working with someone if I don’t think I can teach them anything or get something in return?”


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