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Whitesnake was founded by David Coverdale in 1977, when Coverdale asked his backing band during his solo projects after leaving Deep Purple: "The White Snake Band" to join them. The first lineup of the band was: David Coverdale, Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody, Neil Murray, David Dowle and keyboardist Brian Johnstone (who was replaced by organist Procol Harum and keyboardist Pete Solley, the latter who would again be replaced by former Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord).

At this time, the band played mostly blues-rock. Their first EP, released in early 1978, was called "Snakebite" and had their first hit "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City", which is a cover of the band "Bobby Blue Bland". Their second release, "Trouble", was released in late 1978. The band also recorded their following tour as their first Live Album "Live in Hammersmith", which was released in Japan 1979. Later that year, they also released their fourth album "Lovehunter" which gained a lot of critic because of it's albumcover where a drawing of a naked woman was straddling a snake.

In 1980, David Dowle was replaced by another former Deep Purple artist: Ian Paice. Their new album, "Ready an' Willing" was the bands real first breakthrough, making it to the UK Top 10 and US Billboard 100. They were broadcast on BBC Radio One on following tour, while playing at The Reading Festival. Their next live album "Live... In the Heart of the City" was recorded during this tour and released together with some of the songs from "Live in Hammersmith". It reached #5 on UK Album Charts.