Remember how there’s actually two active versions of L.A. Guns (one led by guitarist Tracii Guns and the other by singer Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley)? Well get ready, because soon there will be two active versions of another 80’s hair rock band. This time, it’s Great White.
This past weekend, singer Jack Russell announced that he was forming a new version of the L.A. rock band under the moniker “Great White featuring Jack Russell.” This certainly left many fans a bit confused, since though he had been sidelined for most of the past year after suffering a perforated bowel, no one realized that he had parted ways with the current Great White lineup. And apparently, his former band mates were surprised as well.
Shortly after Russell’s announcement, Great White’s Mark Kendall (guitar), Scott Snyder (bass), Audie Desbrow (drums), Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards) and Terry Ilous (singer who has been filling in for Russell as of late) released a statement not only expressing shock over the news, but also claiming that Russell does not have the right to start his own version of the group. The band also claims that Russell’s drug and alcohol addiction has prevented him from returning to the group (though the initial plan was for him to come back to the fold in February 2012). You can read their statement in its entirety via their Facebook page, but here are highlights of what they said:
“As we all know Jack Russell has been fighting drug and alcohol abuse for many years. He has had numerous stints in and out of treatment facilities and hospitals. In 2010 Jack’s physical condition deteriorated to the point that he routinely fell on and off stage, forgot lyrics and we had to cancel shows due to his inability to perform. In the past two years, Jack has had five major surgeries and has almost died three times. His drug abuse was so bad that his body began to shut down and ultimately resulted in colostomy surgery from a perforated bowel (he nearly died during this procedure). The colostomy surgery saved his life, but vanquished him with a colostomy bag for a year. We stood by Jack; we supported his sobriety and eagerly awaited his return.
Jack was first slated to return to Great White this past summer. Unfortunately his frail body and his drug abuse prohibited this event. In the following months, Jack had three more surgeries that delayed his return. Finally, he chose February 2012 as his target return date. We had five clear conditions for Jack’s return:
1. Jack had to be drug free. Off all Opiates, Methadone, Valium or Xanax.
2. Jack had to be off Prednisone (a steroid that ate away at Jack’s internal organs that caused the perforated bowl).
3. Jack had to be sober and off crack cocaine and all alcohol.
4. Jack had to agree to weekly drug tests.
5. Jack must attend weekly meetings for AA and NA.
Last week Jack notified management he would not make it back by February 2012. Jack referred to his doctor’s opinion that he would not be ready. He had just started physical rehabilitation again and his legs and back needed more rehab to handle the rigors of touring. Jack thought he would be ready by May to start the summer touring season. However, he wasn’t sure if he could be off the Methadone by then or ever. Management reiterated that he had to be completely drug free for his return. He owed it to the fans. He owed it to us. He owed to himself. Out of nowhere, we all received an email on Saturday, December 10, 2011 stating that he was coming back now and that he was starting his own (a different lineup) Great White. As you can imagine, this was shocking to say the least. We were saddened and hurt from this shocking announcement.
We only want to do right by our fans. We aim to give the best possible show and have every fan leave the show feeling they got their monies worth. This band is sober and music is our passion. With Jack Russell, not being drug free and unable to physically perform on stage. It will only let down our fans. Time and again, Jack Russell has let down his band and fans. His addictions have ruined his life the past eight years. We will not sit by and enable our brother to abuse alcohol and drugs to kill himself. We have lost too many loved ones to this madness. After the passing of our dear friend, the talented Jani Lane, it has become more evident that this has to stop. It must end.
Since Jack’s departure in August 2010, Great White has performed almost 100 concerts. We’ve had no shortened sets, cancellations or song choice limitations due to vocal issues. In this struggling economy, fans need and deserve more—not less. We owe it to our fans and the promoters to not to allow Jack Russell and some garage band to hurt Great White’s classic rock legacy and bright future.
Jack Russell does not have the right to start his own Great White or use the name without our names in the lineup. We will litigate any promoter that books ‘Jack Russell’s Great White’ or uses any logo featuring the name Great White. We give you our word, we will continue through 2012 and beyond to provide you with the top quality musical performances you have been accustomed and deserve. We hope and pray that Jack gets healthy, happy and sober. His health and well-being is the only thing that matters.”
The band makes some pretty bold claims against Russell, and chances are this won’t be the last we hear about the issue from both sides. One thing is for certain, though, Russell’s version of the band will make their debut at the pre-NAMM Jam on January 14, 2012 while the original (?) Great White will presumably continue on with Terry Ilous (fun fact: Great White also had the late Jani Lane fill in for a few shows last year).