Photo provided by George Rose

Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’: The Real Story

Tawny Kitaen and everyone else who made it happen on the untold story behind one of the most famous music videos ever.

Kind of like the Reagans and Geraldo’s mustache, it’s impossible to consider the 1980s without referencing Whitesnake’s video for “Here I Go Again.” It was, on the one hand, completely disposable — a rock anthem with fairly generic lyrics (“I don’t know where I’m going / But I sure know where I’ve been”) and a seemingly improvised video conceit (hair metal fantasy girl Tawny Kitaen writhing atop two Jaguars cross-cut with a bunch of dudes with perms jamming out in an empty auditorium). And yet, on the other, it’s an undeniable cultural touchstone. (Seriously, now that we’ve got you thinking about it, try not to sing it — even better, see how many days it takes to get out of your head.)

So while “Here I Go Again” might not have rebelled against or represented the excess (Geraldo’s mustache) and hypocrisy (the Reagans) of the 1980s, it certainly was a standard-bearer of the MTV Generation (pre-Real World and Teen Mom at least). Or to be more basic about it: The song is so catchy and the video so infamous for Kitaen’s sexualized car-top gymnastics that the music and imagery are still widely cited and imitated even three decades later (in American Dad, in Talladega Nights, in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).

On this episode of MEL: On Air, we’ve assembled all the major players — from Geffen Music executive John Kalodner to director Marty Callner to Kitaen (as well as a host of others)—to get the inside story of a song and video that were really five years in the making and that transformed Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale and Kitaen into the First Couple of rock ’n’ roll.