Single Stories: Whitesnake, STILL OF THE NIGHT
David Coverdale was ready for change. Whitesnake's sixth studio album, Slide It In (1984), was a breakout success in America. With MTV jumping all over clips for "Slow an' Easy" and "Love Ain't No Stranger," the band's Stateside profile was at an all-time high.
"I wanted Whitesnake to be leaner, meaner and more electrifying," Coverdale told Metal Hammer. "I felt that we'd done extraordinarily well. We'd made six albums in just a few years. We did fabulously on those albums, but I really felt that we were flogging a dead snake. For me personally, I felt it was time for a change. I didn't want to stay in the same old traditional blues and pop scenario. It was simply my choice as an artist. I wanted to pursue another direction. That was my whole modus operandi. The reason I invited John Sykes into the band was to actually afford that transition, or someone of that style and it happened to be Sykes. And that was it."
While preparing to record the follow-up to Slide It In, Coverdale made a fortuitous discovery: "When my mother died I was going through the stuff at her house and found some early demo cassettes," the singer explained. "One of them was a song that Ritchie Blackmore and I had been working on which was the basic premise of what would become 'Still Of The Night.' It was totally unrecognizable, so Ritchie doesn't have anything to worry about... neither do I! I took it as far as I could, then gave it to Sykesy when we were in the south of France, and he put the big guitar hero stuff on there. John hated the blues, so I had to work within those parameters. I manipulated it to be electric blues, but how he performed was fabulous for his time and relatively unique because of the songs."
Released as the lead single from Whitesnake's self-titled album in early March 1987, "Still of the Night" debuted the band's new sound to the rock world. The track rocketed up the charts to peak at #18 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song had even more impact on MTV, with the striking visuals (featuring actress Tawny Kitaen) made it a viewer favorite.
"We already had a fabulous relationship with radio after we'd laid the foundation with the Slide It In record, but MTV was an entirety new kettle of fish and they just took to the band hugely," Coverdale remembered. "I guess we had all the elements that they wanted. So we had a five-year, unbelievable relationship with MTV and it worked out very, very well for us and in essence, it helped us to make that transition that I wanted and then it all became astonishingly successful."