“The original idea was for Tina Turner,” Coverdale explained in a newly posted video released via the Whitesnake TV YouTube channel. “My friends and associates at EMI Records were looking for songs to follow up Tina’s astonishing success story. The album with ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ was huge, global, and they were looking for songs.”
The record label executives knew Coverdale was working on new material and suggested he create something for Turner.
“They knew I was going away to do the old correlation of song ideas and said, ‘If you come up with anything that you think might be good for Tina — because they knew I was a huge fan — let us know,” the rocker recalled. “So that was the idea. The original idea for ‘Is This Love” was for Tina.”
Coverdale retreated to the south of France, where he and Whitesnake guitarist worked on new material in a rented villa. “John and I had different hours,” Coverdale recalled. “He had owl hours and I had daytime Davey hours.”
One afternoon, Sykes heard a power ballad that the frontman had been working on. “And he said, ‘Oh, what’s that? That’s nice.’ I said, ‘Oh, it’s not for us. It’s for Tina Turner.’”
Watch the Music Video for ‘Is This Love’
Sykes sat down and immediately started playing some powerful guitar parts to help fill out Coverdale’s concept for “Is This Love.”
“It was just this organic thing,” Coverdale explained. “These ideas just fed really beautiful things that I wouldn’t have come up with.”
“Maybe John wouldn’t have come up with the chords, but the embellishments were just part of the whole package of the song,” the singer continued. “And when [record label] Geffen heard it, I said, ‘No, no, no. This is for Tina Turner.’ [And Geffen responded] ‘No, it’s not.’ And it’s one of the biggest songs that we have.”
“Is This Love” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the second highest charting hit of the band’s career. While Coverdale is understandably happy he didn’t end up giving “Is This Love” to Turner, he admitted there’s a tiny part of him that wonders what she would have done with it.
“I’d still love to have heard her sing it,” the Whitesnake frontman admitted. “If you were to imagine it in your mind’s ear, you know she’d do a superb job on it.”
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