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Tag - David Coverdale

Whitesnake at Ruth Eckerd Hall

First off, Ruth Eckerd Hall sucks. Don’t waste your money attending a show at this Venue. The show might as well have been outside, it was so hot inside. July in Florida and their AC wasn’t working. I felt sorry for the band as well, because it didn’t even look like they had any fans on stage.

The Good:

I was surprised that the band was so personable. Lead Singer, David Coverdale, talked with the crowd a few times, shared a cocktail with a few people and even made some cheeky comments. Ruth Eckerd Hall is not someplace that I would expect to see a band like Whitesnake at. Their sound was a little too large, for such a small place, but it did make the concert a more intimate experience.

Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake - Image by Mj Wilson PhotographyFunny story about Whitesnake (of course I have a story!) Back in the late 80’s, when their album Whitesnake went 8x platinum, they played a concert here in Tampa. Kevin and I had just gotten together back then, and their ballad Is This Love was one of our favorites. Kevin’s band was playing Tampa the weekend of the Whitesnake concert and between the two of us, we couldn’t come up with the $25 each, that the Whitesnake concert tickets would have cost us! (Sad, but true.) While I wish we could have seen Whitesnake in their stadium glory days, we did have 9th row seats for this concert, which sort of made up for it.

The Bad:

David Coverdale’s voice is shot. I knew it the second the first few lyrics came out of his mouth. Don’t get me wrong, Coverdale was a monster lead singer, back in the day. Whether it is the constant touring now or past damage, something has happened to his voice, and the sound isn’t a pretty one. He really made a valiant effort to put on a good show tonight and towards the end even managed to throw out a few of his trademark howls. Bad voice or not, the crowd loved the band, we sang the parts he couldn’t, and we were all on our feet for the entire show. The band’s energy and enthusiasm to be there, performing for us, made up for the lack of vocals (sort of.)

Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake - Image by Mj Wilson PhotographyThe Ugly:

When we first walked in to Ruth Eckerd Hall, I thought we were at the venue on the wrong day. I have been to a lot of rock concerts in my day and there is always the usual cast of fools…you see the “wanna be” rock stars, the aging, ubiquitous groupies, the fans who have turned into parents, and even some children. The crowd at this Concert was the strangest bunch I’ve ever seen. The people at this show looked like either Allman Brothers fans, Jimmy Buffet fans, ABBA fans or just Jerry Springer fans. Throw in some biker looks and you may get the picture of this crowd.

Even stranger yet, White haired men, with glasses, were front row center. Women who should never, ever wear strapless tops were wearing bustiers. Then, some old DJ, from a local radio station, takes the stage to introduce the opening act, wearing cut off shorts, flip flops and carrying a drink or beer in his hand. Good God! Have some professionalism? People were paying hundreds of dollars for their concert seats and that dumb ass looked like he had gotten off his lazy boy chair at home, walked across the street, talked on the mic for 30 seconds, and called it a day.

Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake - Image by Mj Wilson PhotographyThe Redemption:

Doug Aldrich.

Good Lord! Blonde boys have never turned my head, but seeing Lead Guitarist Doug Aldrich, shirtless and shredded on stage, certainly caught my attention tonight! I spent the better part of the concert trying to take photos of him with my ridiculous phone that I haven’t gotten rid of yet.  (You would think that I’d have gotten a better camera/phone since the last Aerosmith concert, but no…I haven’t.)

The guy sitting next to me had this Sony Cybershot that was taking amazing photos! That’s what frustrates me about going to concerts…I’m so used to covering events as a Photographer, that I feel compelled to keep shooting, but I am fighting my crappy equipment (phone) the entire time!

You know I love my “Six Degrees of Separation” stories, so what better way to end my Whitesnake story, than to make note of the fact that I am separated from David Coverdale by only one (1) degree!

This is because I actually worked with David’s second wife, Tawny Kitaen, on the movie Crystal Heart, back in my LA days!

Such a small, small world.

Crystal Heart with Tawny Kitaen

Ah Hollywood…..Land of Dreams and motion pictures….

In College my friends and I were all part of the Radio/TV/Film sequence and we were always looking to intern, crew or work on actual TV shows or movies that were filming in the LA area.

I believe that my great friend, Marci Carlin, hooked me up with this particular project, which was a feature film called Crystal Heart (Corazón de cristal) that featured Tawny Kitaen (famous by then for her role in Bachelor Party, yet “pre” David Coverdale / Whitesnake days.) Her co-star was Lee Curreri who had starred in the movie version of FAME. Lloyd Bochner and Richard Blade, (a local LA DJ) were also part of the cast, for this film.

As a Production Assistant, I got the stupendous opportunity to basically do anything on this film, that the Spanish crew needed. That meant anything from going for donuts, to helping rig lights on the beach, to hauling equipment, to doing crowd control in downtown LA, to picking up Tawny one morning, to lending them my ring, and a mirror, for a scene where Lee’s character proposes to Tawny’s character.

I did all of that for a whopping $35 per day! And those days were at least 15 hours long.

Crystal Heart with Tawny Kitaen & Lee Curreri - New World PicturesNeedless to say, I was ready to quit after day one. But, apparently, I was a really good worker and when I told the Producer I wanted to quit, he negotiated a higher pay rate for me, like maybe $50 per day! Whoo Hoo!

I did have some fun on the movie – the production guys, who were all Union, took the time to tell me all about their craft, in our downtime, and I got to learn a lot about lighting and sound for movies. The Spanish crew barely spoke any English and apparently my name (Mj) was too hard for them to pronounce because they kept calling me MG! After what seemed like the hundredth time I told them that my name was “Mj” and not “MG”, I think one of the guys explained to me that the “J” in their language was pronounced as a “G”. I also learned that I could control an entire crowd, in a downtown Los Angeles park, with only a megaphone, while we were shooting a scene. Perhaps that’s why the Producer wanted to keep me on?

I also remember that Tawny had such gorgeous, red hair, that perhaps after that movie is when I decided to become a redhead myself.

It was a fun experience, but not something I wanted to do again, especially for such a low pay rate.

I remember watching the movie once, and torturing Kevin to sit through the whole thing, just so we could see my “credit”, at the end of the movie, which of course showed that they spelled my name wrong!

Ah…what do they say though? It’s the “Experience” that counts!

An amusing anecdote – I just saw that I am actually listed and have a credit in the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) for my work on this movie!