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Adrian Vandenberg interview: from solo to stardom and back again

A press shot of Vandenberg
(Image credit: Mascot)

During the 1980s, Adrian Vandenberg’s self-named band released three albums of classy, melodic hard rock. David Coverdale was so enamoured of the blond guitarist, songwriter and leader that he prized him away to join Whitesnake, albeit at the second attempt. 

Following two spells with Whitesnake the Dutchman dropped off the radar until forming Vandenberg’s MoonKings in 2013. The new album by the reunited Vandenberg, 2020, is the band’s first in 35 years.

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Are the MoonKings now over? 

They’re on ice. I wouldn’t be surprised we do some shows in a few years just for the hell of it. 

Was putting Vandenberg back together about those two famous, slightly over-used words ‘unfinished business’? 

[Laughs] They’re justifiable here, for anyone familiar with the early material and also the legal stuff that went on between me and the former band members. This is the perfect opportunity to flush away that bad taste that left in my mouth. 

Why did you eventually agree to Coverdale’s tempting you away? 

I had to fire the singer, Bert Heerink, due to his completely unreliable behaviour. Then I got a call from John Kalodner [A&R man at Geffen Records] offering a deal for a new Vandenberg line-up. His second proposition was for me to join Whitesnake. It was clear that I would never find a singer of Coverdale’s quality [for Vandenberg], so it was an easy decision. 

Where did you get the idea of asking Rainbow’s Ronnie Romero to be your new frontman? 

I watched some YouTube of him with Rainbow and he blew me away, so I sent Ronnie a spontaneous email congratulating him on getting the gig and wishing him the best. He replied right away saying he was a fan of my work. He told me the reason that he became a singer was the Starkers In Tokyo acoustic album [1997] I did with David Coverdale.

If Romero brings a Ronnie James Dio influence to songs like Hell And High Water and Ride Like The Wind, you complement that with some cool, Blackmore-style licks

Oh thanks, that’s a huge compliment. Ritchie Blackmore was one of my earliest guitar influences. The way that Ronnie [Romero] sings brings back very happy memories of some of my favourite music. 

2020 is a sleek, powerful album. Freight Train races along just like its title. 

That’s also one of my favourites. If certain songs sound like Rainbow, Whitesnake or Led Zeppelin, that one’s more difficult to compare to anybody. It has a real groove. 

Why did you remake the first album’s ballad Burning Heart? 

Originally I opposed it being on the album, but when the label wanted to put out a press release it felt like a stronger signal to show what we could do with Ronnie. It had been re-recorded a few times before, so it felt like a bridge between the old and the new Vandenberg. 

What sort of goals have you set for this ‘new’ Vandenberg? 

For very obvious reasons we cannot do so right away, but I really want to tour my ass off with this band, and the UK will definitely be in our plans.

Vandenberg's 2020 is out now.