Sunday Old School: Great White
Band Photo: Great White (?)
Great White started as a standard lipstick and big hair glam band before evolving into one of the best blues hard rock bands of the eighties. Great White had amazing highs in the eighties, but nothing matches their tragic low in 2003. Today (as is the current trend with eighties bands) the lineup is a mess; with two bands touring as Great White. A made for Hollywood story from a band formed in Los Angeles.
Great White was created in the early 80’s by Jack Russell (vocals) and Mark Kendall (guitar). With Lorne Black (bass) and Garry Holland (drums) the band would record an independent EP that was produced by Don Dokken (Dokken). ‘Out of The Night’ received local airplay and just like that the band played to large crowds and became a signed band. In 1983 they released their self-titled album ‘Great White’ and went on the road to support Whitesnake and Judas Priest. After their third album, ‘Shot In The Dark’, was released the band went out and played the opening slot for Dokken. In 1987 the band hit the mainstream in a big way with their next album, ‘Once Bitten…’ which featured the singles “Rock Me”, “Lady Red Light”, and “Save Your Love.” The videos for “Rock Me” and “Lady Red Light” were essentially the same video highlighting big hair, jean jackets, oversized aviators, and of course a blonde squeezed into a leather skirt. Actually “Save Your Love” was also the same video, just slowed down a bit: same hair, same leather skirt, same jean jackets…
The band followed up ‘Once Bitten…” with “…Twice Shy” in 1989 and blew up with their giant hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, a cover of a single by Ian Hunter. They received a Grammy Award and the album went double platinum that year. They also produced a video that featured model Bobbie Brown (SEE: Warrant and the video “Cherry Pie”) and the greatest “air drum solo” of all time. It was quite a video to say the least. Great White finished off the eighties headlining tours with Bon Jovi for an unofficial battle of the jean jackets; they were truly at the top of the success chain, and then everything went south.
Mark Kendall would suffer a hemorrhage due to alcohol abuse and other members of the band were replaced prior to the recording of ‘Psycho City.’ Still, the album showcased what Great White does best – hard rock blues; however, the album failed with their fans. Great White would go on to record ‘Let It Rock’ and then in 1998 a collection of covers dedicated to Led Zeppelin. After signing a fourth label deal with Portait/Sony the band would release ‘Can’t Get There From Here’ which received positive critical response, but again, didn’t resonate with the same audience as their early albums had. After a live album and a Jack Russell solo tour, Russell welcomed back Kendall, and once again toured as Great White. On February 20, 2003 at the Station in Providence, Rhode Island, a nightmare unfolded. During their opening number pyrotechnics ignited faulty soundproofing and the club went up in flames. Once the scene had cleared, one hundred people had died, including guitarist Ty Longley.
After some time off the band decided to hit the road and raise funds for the victims of the fire. In 2007 the band reformed to record ‘Back To The Rhythm’ and then two years later, ‘Rising’, with new bassist Scott Snyder. In 2010 Jani Lane (Warrant), Terry Ilous (XYZ), and Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot, King Kobra) filled in for Jack Russell while Russell recovered from a health issue. In 2011 Jack Russell, having fully recovered, formed a new band named Jack Russell’s Great White. This started a lot of finger pointing and confusion as to what was really happening behind the scenes (this continues today). In 2012 the non-Jack Russell Great White (just Great White) released a new album titled ‘Elation.’
The current incarnation of Great White is Mark Kendall (guitar), Audie Desbrow (drums), Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards), Scott Snyder (bass), and Terry Ilous (vocals). As for Jack Russell’s Great White, the lineup includes Jack Russell (vocals), Matthew Johnson (guitar, keyboards), Derrick Pontier (drums), Robby Lochner (guitar), and Dario Seixas (bass).
The story of Great White is just that, quite a story and by the way, yes, there is a book on the way detailing their 30 year journey. During the past three decades Great White has hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. They have earned the right to go out night after night and sing the blues; these guys know what it’s all about. They also know how to wear the hell out of a jean jacket.
ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY
Hair, jea jackets, aviators, and a blond in leather
LADY RED LIGHT
Same as rock me
CALL IT ROCK AND ROLL
SAVE YOUR LOVE
Same leather blond, just much slower
THE BIG GOODBYE
Jack russells mastery of mic stand
Please share this article if you found it interesting.
2 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Great White"