Behind the Band Name: Is Whitesnake a Phallic Reference or Not?

There is a rare breed of rock band that exists out in the wild. Its natural habitat can be found on stage, performing pyrotechnic-fueled power ballads. Its mating ritual involves a plumage of teased hair and the cry of a distinct glam-metal baritone. The specimen could be none other than Whitesnake, an outfit not just venomous, but rather lethal with their sexed-up hits, catchy hooks, and flashy theatrics.

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Behind the Name

Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale has regularly kept up the running joke that the band’s name is a euphemism for his penis. He reportedly told Metro UK in a 2009 interview, “From my penis,” when asked where the name came from. He then explained that the name was actually taken from a song he wrote “in the dying embers of Deep Purple.” Deep Purple was the rock band he fronted for a short stint from 1973 until 1976.

[RELATED: Behind the Meaning of the Song “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake]

After his departure from that group, prior to the formation of the band Whitesnake, the song “Whitesnake” appeared on Coverdale’s 1977 solo debut of the same name. Written during Deep Purple’s disintegration, the album has been described as a personal and reflective project for the artist.

Coverdale borrowed the album’s title when putting together his own hard rock outfit. The band would first be called David Coverdale’s Whitesnake before defaulting to simply Whitesnake.

Whitesnake Today

After decades of various lineup changes, hiatuses, and reunions, the on-and-off band seems to be on the road to farewell, and a bumpy one at that. Last year, their plans for a final tour were halted after a handful of group members fell ill with Coverdale diagnosed with a “persistent upper respiratory infection.” They cancelled the remainder of their European dates and withdrew from their North American leg completely.

It was recently announced that the band will release a box set of their 2008 album, Good To Be Bad. The collection is set to feature all-new versions of the original album, rare and previously unreleased recordings, exclusive interviews, and live performances from the world tour in support of the record. The set is arriving on April 28.

Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns

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