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Reb Beach: “It was incredibly difficult when Winger first split. I sold every single one of my guitars except one or two”

(Image credit: Joe Branston / Future)

The Whitesnake and Winger guitarist Reb Beach on Coverdale, the Bee Gees and how Kip Winger saved his bacon, several times.

I got my first real six-string...

“My Aria Strat [copy] that had two pickups, but I wanted three so I got a sticker that looked like a pickup and I put it in the middle. I loved my Aria. I wish I still had it. I’d probably hate it now but I loved it then.

“I got a G&L after that, and that had a whammy bar, which changed my life. I got that because of Brad Gillis in Night Ranger. One of the first videos on MTV was a Night Ranger song, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, and he played the whammy on it, so I ran out and bought one.”

Restless heart

David [Coverdale] is high energy! I lived with him for weeks at a time and in the morning he is just gangbusters

“Well, if you meet David [Coverdale], he is just high-energy! I lived with him for weeks at a time and in the morning he is just gangbusters: ‘Rebel! How are you this fine morning!? I feel like we are going to write a hit song today!’ And that’s how he is all the time.

“He’s very inspired. He loves his work and he loves to perform. He loves rock ’n’ roll. He loves to be up there doing his thing, and I don’t know if he’ll ever stop. And he can still hit the notes.”

Funk school

“Doing sessions, I was the rock guy; I didn’t play any different styles of music. It was, ‘Come in, play a rock solo.’ I did a rhythm for Kenny Loggins one time, and they ended up not using it, but I got to cut the tracks with Marcus Miller, so that was incredible. He taught me how to play funk. He told me I was doing it all wrong. Because I was going ‘Jing-a-jink d-jing-jink-d-jing’ and he was like, ‘No, man. It’s just d-jing.’”

In harmony

“The Bee Gees flew me out and put me up in Doral, Miami. There were bags of weed everywhere. Those guys just smoked and smoked, and that’s all they did! But there was a track I played on that didn’t have a vocal yet, so they all got around in a circle around me, and sang the vocal. It was the most incredible thing because they all had perfect pitch. They just sang for me acapella... All these voices that I’ve heard on the radio for all these years, standing around me, in stereo, and singing perfectly. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience.”

Winger and a prayer

[When Winger first split in 1994]. I sold every single one of my guitars except one or two

“It was incredibly difficult [when Winger first split in 1994]. I sold every single one of my guitars except one or two. I had 20, so I sold ’em all. That’s how I got through the year, that and playing in a blues band. And it totally was overnight; I had to sell my house as well. It was horrible. It was the dark time. If it wasn’t for Kip Winger telling me about an Alice Cooper audition, who knows what would have become of me.”

My better half

“If I hadn’t have met Kip Winger, forget it. He’s a musical genius and he is the opposite of me. That’s why we are so good together. He got me every single gig I got, including Dokken. He taught me how to write a song. He’s my rock. If anything goes wrong, anything bad happens, I call him right away, ‘Kip, what do I do?’. [Laughs] I am terrible at business; I am Bambi with a penis! I’m horrible, horrible with confrontation. I get nervous easily. I’m a total wimp. And so Kip is my other half. My wife says it’s like she’s married to me and him.”

Whitesnake’s new album Flesh & Blood is out now on Frontiers Records. See for more details

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.

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