Actress Tawny Kitaen, who recently died at age 59, was not the original choice to play the leading lady in Whitesnake‘s music video for their 1987 smash hit, “Here I Go Again,” but as lead singer (and her ex-husband) David Coverdale remembered it, she was perfect for the part.
“Claudia Schiffer was supposed to be ‘the Whitesnake woman,’ when she was the Guess Jeans girl,” Coverdale said to Heavy Consequence , in 2019, remembering the initial plans for the video casting, “But that fell apart near the actual shoot. And I was taking Tawny out for dinner, when (video director) Marty Callner called me, and said, ‘You have to stop by, we have problems.’ We went to his house on the way to dinner, he opened the door, his jaw hit the floor — as you know, Tawny was an absolute beauty — and he said, ‘That’s her! She’s the Whitesnake woman!’ And I said, ‘Marty, this is a friend of mine. She’s an actress.’ And she said, ‘No David, I’m happy to do it!’”
Kitaen, who was dating Coverdale at the time, recounted the story similarly in a 2020 interview with the Ouch, You’re On My Hair podcast.
“The night before the shoot, David said, ‘Will you come with me to Marty, the director of the video’s house? We have to go over the story boards,'” she said. “So we went over to his Bel Air mansion, and he opens up the door, and without even saying hi or hello, he pointed at me and he said, ‘You’re her.’ And I’m, like, ‘I’m who?’ And he said, ‘You’re the girl.’ And I was already an actress. I had turned down a couple of bands from not being in their video, because I was an actress. ‘I’m not gonna do a rock video. Are you kidding?’ That was the mentality. But it was my boyfriend at the time’s video, so I thought, ‘All right, I’ve already helped my boyfriend on all the Ratt album covers’ [Kitaen previously dated Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby and appeared on the cover of two of their albums] “why can’t I help my boyfriend in his videos?’ And so that’s how it happened. And this poor girl got a call that she was no longer gonna be in it, and here I was.”
Just before the release of the single and the album, Coverdale, massively in debt and unsure of his path moving forward, did not see a very bright future ahead of him. “I thought I was done,” he told UCR in 2017. “I thought it was ‘Stick a fork in me, I’m done.'”
But “Here I Go Again” could not have been a bigger commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a reality that ended up taking an emotional toll on Coverdale.
“In America it’s very strange, because celebrity and excess can be celebrated,” Coverdale said in an interview with Louder Sound. “It’s extraordinary to me. Because the other side of the coin with me is that I’m an intensely private man. And once that huge kind of ’Snake mania was going on over here, Tawny, my second wife, and I, we couldn’t go anywhere without being mobbed.”
Kitaen went on to star is several other Whitesnake videos, including “Still of the Night”, “Is This Love” and “The Deeper the Love.” She and Coverdale were married in 1989, but divorced two years later. In 2019, Whitesnake released a video for “Shut Up & Kiss Me,” a song from the band’s 13th studio album, Flesh and Blood, which featured the same white Jaguar Kitaen had tumbled across on for the original “Here I Go Again” video.