There are plenty of songwriting tales in rock history where a track was written for one artist, but ends up becoming a massive hit for another. This is one of those tales, and it involves Whitesnake and Tina Turner.
David Coverdale explains in a new video on Whitesnake’s YouTube page that “Is This Love” was actually written for Turner.
“My friends and associates at EMI Records were looking for songs to follow up Tina’s astonishing success story,” recalls Coverdale. “The album [‘Private Dancer’] with ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ was huge, global, and they were looking for songs. 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. So that was the idea. The original idea for ‘Is This Love” was for Tina.”
He continues, “[Whitesnake guitarist] John Sykes and I had rented a villa in the south of France…and John and I had different hours. He had owl hours, and I had daytime ‘Davey’ hours. He’d sort of stagger out of his room to get coffee as I was tinkering away and now turning the volume up at about four in the afternoon. He said, ‘What’s that? That’s nice!’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s not for us. It’s for Tina Turner.’ Anyway, he gets his coffee and sits down and just that’s playing…It was just this organic thing. These things just fed into these beautiful ideas I never would’ve come up with.
Coverdale concluded, “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.”