News Segment


February 1, 2005

Great White’s frontman is refusing to sing in court.

Jack Russell, the lead singer for the ’80s metal band, is not cooperating with lawyers involved in a civil lawsuit stemming from the deadly 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire.

Russell’s lawyer contends the “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” singer is avoiding depositions because he doesn’t want to open himself up to any possible criminal prosecution.

Great White is already facing several lawsuits for its role in the blaze; the band’s pyrotechnics ignited highly flammable foam insulation that led to the deaths of 100 people, including band guitarist Ty Longley.

Russell has long been fearful of criminal charges; two years ago, he sought an immunity deal with prosecutors in exchange for telling a grand jury his version of what took place at The Station on Feb. 20, 2003.

Russell’s lawyer says in papers recently filed in the U.S. District Court in Providence that the singer “faces a real possibility of criminal prosecution arising out of, and related to” the deadly inferno.

But Michael Healey, spokesman for Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, told the Providence Journal, “There is no open grand jury investigation going on” in connection with the fire, and Lynch’s office has no plans to prosecute Russell.

In December 2003, the grand jury indicted Station owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian and Great White’s former tour manager, Daniel Biechele, on 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter each.

Biechle’s attorney has proclaimed his client’s innocence and blamed unsafe conditions inside The Station for the tragedy. In turn, the Derderians claim Biechle and the band for not having the proper permits to launch their fireworks display.

While Great White escaped criminal charges, the band is named in the eight lawsuits currently winding their way through the courts on behalf of victims and survivors of the fire.

Courtesy of