WHITESNAKE Guitarist: RONNIE JAMES DIO ‘Was A Great Singer And Even Better Person’

Ruben Mosqueda of Oregon Music News recently conducted an interview with WHITESNAKE/ex-DIO guitarist Doug Aldrich. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Oregon Music News: You’ve been in WHITESNAKE since 2002. Were you a fan of the band or [David] Coverdale‘s work?

Doug: Originally, I signed up for a two-month tour in 2002. I’ve been a fan since I was about 16. I recall my mother had dropped me off at my friend’s house because we wanted to learn how to play “Mistreated”. There was no way that I could have played “Burn” at that time! I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager. I really love David‘s voice. I was definitely influenced by [DEEP] PURPLE and later on by WHITESNAKE. When David left PURPLE, it would have been easy to do a “Deep Purple Junior” kind of thing, but instead he did WHITESNAKE. The music was very different; it was blues-based, it was gutsy, and had a sound that was influenced by bands like SLADE, STATUS QUO, THIN LIZZY and stuff like ALLMAN BROTHERS. As you know, it wasn’t until “Slide It In” that WHITESNAKE found success in America, but there were several records released in Europe before that. I was fortunate enough to have been turned on to those records early on.

Oregon Music News: How was the song writing handled on “Forevermore”? Was it mainly you and David Coverdale?

Doug: David and I have great chemistry. Initially, it was supposed to be people sending in their ideas, which is how it was on the last record. It turned out that David and I got on a roll with the songwriting that continued from the last record. It’s very organic and easy. I show him something and he takes it further or he shows me something and I take it further. So to answer your question, we have written everything on both of these records but it didn’t start out that way in the beginning; it just turned out that way.

Oregon Music News: As a fan of WHITESNAKE from all eras, it sounds like you locked yourself up in a room and you didn’t surface until you came out with classic ‘SNAKE riffs. Was it that simple?

Doug: You know, we didn’t really think about it that much. We didn’t sit around thinking that we needed to write a ballad that sounded a certain way because it would be cutting off a lot of other inspiration. We would just write. There are songs that naturally sounded like the classic WHITESNAKE blues sound and then David adds his touch to it. We approached all of the songs in the same manner as we did with the last album, “Good To Be Bad”. I definitely didn’t sit down with a goal to write another “Still Of The Night” or another “Slide It In”. I just couldn’t do it. I just had to let the songs come out the way that they are; that’s actually the advice I have for anyone that writes. Don’t put any constraints; just see what happens.

Oregon Music News: The production on this album has a bit more grit than the previous album, yet it was produced by Brutal Brothers, which is Michael McIntyre, David Coverdale, and yourself.

Doug: Let me explain a little bit about the name Brutal Brothers. Michael, David, and I were very hard on each other when we were working on “Good To Be Bad”. We were also very hard on the musicians that played on the album. That was good, because it was David‘s first album after being gone for a while, so we needed to raise the bar. On the new album, we had a lot of fun. There was no drama of any kind. We laughed, we played, and everybody went into the studio to record together rather than doing a session in another state or something. You’re right, the album sounds more raw and we did it in a shorter amount of time. There wasn’t a lot of time to get too anal about it. We threw it down, tightened it up a little, and that was it.

Oregon Music News: You recorded “Killing The Dragon” with Ronnie James Dio. What was that like?

Doug: It was awesome, man. I wouldn’t be in WHITESNAKE if it wasn’t for Ronnie. He put me out there. I’m a late bloomer, I guess, but he really helped me out. He was very good to me and he had so much faith in me and in my playing. We had a great time designing the album that would become “Killing The Dragon”. Once again, it didn’t work out with their guitar player and I was asked to come in and I started from scratch on everything. We put together an album that was, for him, a new beginning. In the end, through Ronnie and Wendy [Dio], I was noticed by David, and the rest is history. I will say that I miss Ronnie tremendously and we got close toward the end. He was upset when I joined WHITESNAKE full-time but he kept asking me to participate in certain projects with him here and there. We were really tight. I was out of the country when he passed, but my wife and my son went to his service to pay their respects on my behalf. He was a great singer and even better person.

Read the entire interview from Oregon Music News.