Whitesnake’s signature song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on Oct. 10, 1987. But the vast majority of those who put it there didn’t know they’d actually bought the third version of “Here I Go Again” to have been recorded by David Coverdale and his ever-changing band.
The song, co-written by Coverdale and guitarist Bernie Marsden, had first appeared on Whitesnake’s 1982 album Saints & Sinners, but the singer had never been happy with it. “Saints & Sinners was what I called my contractual-obligation album,” he told UCR. “I refused to finish that album until my manager at that time was more reasonable in our divorce proceedings. I’d never really had a full complement of musicians to finish that record.”
The 1982 video features the band performing the song onstage, with drummer Cozy Powell sitting in for Ian Paice, who originally played on the track. This version is more bluesy, raw and understated than the later versions and includes the line “like a hobo I was born to walk alone,” which was later replaced by “like a drifter …” because Coverdale was worried that the word “hobo” could be misheard as “homo.”
Five years later, Whitesnake had completely changed. Coverdale was the only remaining member from the lineup that had created Saints & Sinners when they began work on what would become the band’s self-titled album, which is also known as 1987 to fans. He wanted to re-record 1982’s “Crying in the Rain,” and that led to a negotiation with label boss David Geffen.
“It’s doing deals,” Coverdale told UCR. “Once they said, ‘Let’s do ‘Here I Go Again,’ I said, ‘I’ll do that if I can do ‘Crying in the Rain.’ That was the purpose of that.”