Great White Carries On, Picks Up Steam In Wake Of Nightclub Tragedy
March 27, 2010
Mitch Hotts of MacombDaily.com reports that not a day goes by that Great White lead singer Jack Russell doesn’t think about the 2003 fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 people, including one of the band’s guitarists, during a performance.
“You never get over something like that kind of loss,” said Russell during a telephone interview from his home in California. “I think about it every day. I get tears in my eyes all the time.”
Over the past seven years, numerous lawsuits and settlements related to the tragedy at The Station nightclub have been reported. The fire, sparked by onstage fireworks, also injured more than 200. The group’s guitarist Ty Longley was among the fatalities.
Russell said he thought about getting out of the music business due to the turmoil caused by the incident, but has decided the show must go on.
“For the most part, the lawsuits are done. But this isn’t just about money, it’s about my fans. I care about them because without them, I’d be nowhere,” he said.
Great White has been together 29 years, give or take a few personnel changes and temporary breakups.
The current lineup features original guitarist Mark Kendall, along with drummer Audie Desbrow, Scott Snyder on bass, and guitarist Michael Lardie.
In the late 1980s, Great White gained popularity for hits such as “Rock Me,” “Save Your Love” and its cover of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” which has a crunchy guitar riff that still sounds good two decades later.
The band released a new CD, “Rising,” in 2009, and is compiling material for its next project — if Russell decides there are enough quality songs.
“I still enjoy writing, and I think our songs are better now than they were five years ago,” he said. “But if I’ve got nothing to say artistically, we may not put anything out. I don’t want to continue to live on our past laurels.”
Russell, 49, also said he doesn’t regret getting a facelift in 2006, a process documented by Extra TV. The $50,000 operation was arranged by a former fiancee, he said.
“I had been through so much in my life, I had aged prematurely. At the time of the facelift, I was getting sober and wanted to feel as good on the outside as I felt on the inside,” he said.
The past few times Great White has been in Mount Clemens, they’ve performed at the Hayloft bar. This time around, they’re in the larger Emerald Theatre.
“A lot of people seem to be just discovering us,” he said. “I look out in the audience and I see people from 8 to 65 rocking away. It really makes us feel good.”