Tawny Kitaen, Ratt and Whitesnake Album and Video Star, Dies at 59


Ratt, “Out of the Cellar,” album art – Story by Anne Erickson, album via Atlantic

Whitesnake “Here I Go Again” video star and Ratt album model Tawny Kitaen has passed away

Julie E. “Tawny” Kitaen has passed away. She was 59. Kitaen was an important figure in ’80s rock and metal, as she starred in Whitesnake music videos and on Ratt album covers, and also starred in a handful of movies.

Kitaen passed away Friday night (May 7), according to Variety, at her home in Newport Beach, Calif. No cause of death has been announced.

Kitaen began dating Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby while the two were attending high school in San Diego. She eventually was the cover model for Ratt’s 1983 debut self-titled EP and their 1984 debut studio album, “Out of the Cellar,” the latter which would go on to be one of the most celebrated albums in hair metal.

Kitaen also starred in a range of music videos for Whitesnake, including the seminal “Here I Go Again,” as well as “Still of the Night,” “Is This Love” and “The Deeper the Love.” She wed Whitesnake lead vocalist David Coverdale in 1989, but the pair divorced fairly soon, in 1991.

Coverdale tweeted out about the tragic news today (May 8), stating, “Just woke up to some very sad, unexpected news… Waiting on confirmation, but if it is true, my sincere condolences to her children, her family, friends & fans.”

“Claudia Schiffer was supposed to be ‘the Whitesnake woman,’ when she was the Guess Jeans girl,” Coverdale told Consequence of Sound’s Heavy Consequence, when asked about the “Here I Go Again” music video. “But that fell apart near the actual shoot. And I was taking Tawny out for dinner, when (video director) Marty Callner called me, and said, ‘You have to stop by, we have problems.'”

He added, “We went to his house on the way to dinner, he opened the door, his jaw hit the floor — as you know, Tawny was an absolute beauty — and he said, ‘That’s her! She’s the Whitesnake woman!’ And I said, ‘Marty, this is a friend of mine. She’s an actress.’ And she said, ‘No David, I’m happy to do it!'”

Acting-wise, Kitaen appeared alongside Tom Hanks in the 1984 movie “Bachelor Party.” She also regularly appeared in the sitcom “The New WKRP in Cincinnati” and played Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend in the 1991 episode, “The Nose Job.” Later, Kitaen appeared on several reality TV shows.