International success of Whitesnake (1983–1991)
Whitesnake gained significant popularity in the UK, Europe, and Asia, but North American success remained elusive. In 1984, the album Slide It In dented the US charts (reaching #40), but not enough to be considered a hit. In time for the US release of Slide It In, Coverdale made a calculated attempt at updating Whitesnake's sound and look by recruiting guitarist John Sykes from the remnants of Thin Lizzy. Sykes brought a more contemporary, aggressive guitar sound with him and had stage manners to match. The last remaining Deep Purple connections were severed when Jon Lord left after recording Slide It In to re-form Deep Purple. (Ian Paice had left Whitesnake in 1982.)
In 1985, Sykes and Coverdale started working on new songs for the next album, but Coverdale soon contracted a serious sinus infection that made recording close to impossible for much of 1986 and which had doctors thinking he might never sing again. Coverdale eventually recovered, and recordings were continued. But before their upcoming album was fully recorded and released, Coverdale had dismissed Sykes from the band. The split with Sykes was, reportedly, not amicable.
In many period interviews, Coverdale stated that the next album was a make-or-break album for Whitesnake, and if not successful he would disband Whitesnake altogether. During 1987 and 1988, North America was finally won over, with the multi-platinum self-titled Whitesnake album, co-written for the most part with now-departed Sykes, but including guitar virtuoso Adrian Vandenberg, as a session musician.
The 1987 album has sold 8 times platinum since its release, propelled by hit singles such as "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love", and finally made Whitesnake a bona fide concert headliner in North America. Through the late 80s and early 90s, caught in the "hair-band" era, Coverdale kept Whitesnake going with great success despite changing line-ups.