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Great White


Great White were competent musicians, deeply influenced by AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but sorely lacking creativity. Not to say Jack Russell and Mark Kendall, the group's primary songwriters, didn't give it a shot. The songs were derivative but passable.

Great White's claim to fame was covering Ian Hunter's "One Bitten, Twice Shy," in '89. It was a huge hit and the accompanying album "Twice Shy" sold well. It had taken the group nearly seven years to find some measure of success but they quickly slipped from view for the next few years.

"Sail Way" came out in '94 and was followed, two years later, by "Let It Rock." Neither effort made much of an impression. "Tribute To Led Zeppelin," (yes, that's Great White covering Zeppelin), and "Can't Get There From Here" appeared in '99. But a year later they hit rock bottom with "Latest & Greatest." The set contained newly recorded versions of their "best" material. Please!

Locked in the oldies Rock circuit Great White made a decent, if unremarkable, living playing their big hit in small towns. They no doubt wish it had stayed that way. But like many has-been groups they felt compelled to add a spark to their shows. Their particular take was pyrotechnics.

In large venues, fireworks have the space to shoot off harmlessly. Still, safety precautions and procedures have to be strictly adhered. In small clubs, pyrotechnics are pure folly as Great White discovered when they burned their name into infamy, at The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island on February 20th, '03.

The fireworks ignited the club, quickly burning it to the ground. A total of 100 people died (including Great White's guitarist Ty Longley). Later in the year, while lawsuits were still pending, the group embarked on a tour to raise money for the injured and families of the deceased.





A minor sidebar to the tragedy was who actually played The Station show? Was it Great White or Jack Russell's Great White?

A couple years earlier, an aborted album, a departure from Columbia Records and Kendell and Russell's interest in solo careers led to the late '01 announcement that Great White was disbanding.

But not long afterward, Russell's solo band was not attracting good audiences. His well-documented drug addiction probably wasn't helping either.

He reached out to Kendall who agreed to play some dates allowing Russell to bill the shows as Jack Russell's Great White. This edition toured into '03.

Though the media focused on Great White, it was actually Jack Russell's edition onstage.

The fallout from the fire shelved both Great White and Russell's outfit. Still, within months there was talk of reforming Great White. It took awhile but it did happen in '07 when the lineup of Russell, Kendall, Michael Lardie, Sean McNabb and Audie Desbrow played their first date together in more than 5 years in Hollywood.

For reasons known only to themselves, Great White then recorded three albums, "Back To The Rhythm" ('07), "Rising" ('09) and "Elation" ('12). "Elation" was notable for being the first album with singer Terry Ilous.

The previous year, Russell, who had recovered from serious health issues, relaunched Jack Russell's Great White. Needless to say, this effort did not please the members of Great White and legal action ensued.

In '13, the parties reached an agreement in Federal Court that allowed Russell to continue fronting Jack Russell's Great White after turning over rights to the Great White name to the band and leasing it back.

Great White's "Full Circle" dropped in '17. The group re-teamed with its original producer, Michael Wagener (Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne).

Great White Discography

1984 Great White
Shot In The Dark
1987 Once Bitten...
1989 ...Twice Shy
1991 Hooked
1992 Psycho City
1994 Sail Away
1996 Let It Rock
1999 Can't Get There from Here
2007 Back To The Rhythm
2009 Rising
2012 Elation
2017 Full Circle

Get Great White's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" on one of several '80s compilations and call it good. Ian Hunter's original version is on his self-titled album. If there is a desire for more, "Great White's Greatest Hits" (not "Latest and Greatest") should quench it.



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