A bluesy Los Angeles band, Great White brought heavy metal and Led Zeppelin influences to their glam image - and got constantly criticized for it. Kendall and Russell formed the band in 1978.
An EP called Out Of The Night is independently produced and goes on to sell no less than 20,000 copies. The band is dropped and picked up again by EMI in the early days. The debut was produced by Don Dokken and so years later Don recruited Holland for his solo album. Great White supported the self-titled debut by opening up for the likes of Judas Priest and Whitesnake on both sides of the Atlantic. Audie Desbrow joined the band for Shot In The Dark. This album was later re-issued by Capitol to whom the band signed for future albums.
The single Rock Me from their 1987 album made the band's chart breakthrough possible. Twice Shy sold two million copies in the USA alone. The group appeared in the movie Maid To Order as the Loaded Blanks. The band began showing signs of wear and tear in the late 80's, but kept a core line-up going. The group shared a management team with Guns ‘N Roses at this stage. In fact, Russell took time off to concentrate on his car-racing hobby. Dave Spitz replaced Montana in 1992, who was in turn replaced by Teddy Cook. Spitz is the brother of the former Anthrax guitarist Dan. In the late 90's the band signed with John Kalodner's label Portrait but the venture was short-lived. Can't Get There From Here was produced by Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees). Sean McNabb had joined the band for the Let It Rock tour and stayed long enough to record Can't Get There From Here. Kendall left the fold in early 2000. In the same year the Latest And Greatest compilation featured the band's singles reworked and re-recorded. McNabb and Desbrow left the fold amidst accusations of monetary embezzlement. Early 2001 meant the departure of Russell, partly due to substance use, and hence the demise of the band. Russell stated his need to do something different after the death of his father and continued as a solo act.
In the autumn of 2002 there were reports of Great White's reformation. The rumours were quickly denied as management set out to clarify that in tandem with Russell's solo US tour in promotion of his new release For You, a band dubbed Jack Russell's Great White would tour in support of the live album Thank You ... Good Night! This album featured Russell, Mark Kendall, Michael Lardie, Sean McNabb and drummer Derrick Pontier.
At a February 2003 Rhode Island concert, Great White's stage pyro show lead to the death of nearly 100 fans when the club was engulfed in a blaze of fire. The band's latest guitar player Ty Longley died in the accident. Great White had just begun its set when the fire broke out. An additional fifty people were hospitalized. The band was propelled into the limelight after the incident received international coverage.
The band announced a tour with XYZ and L.A. Guns for the summer of 2003, which soon fell apart because the band could not secure insurance. Select shows followed which allowed the band to raise money for the victims of the Rhode Island tragedy. Derek Pontier was hit head-on in a collision when a woman lost control of her car and crossed the road into oncoming traffic on September, 29th 2003. Pontier was released from the hospital with cuts and bruises. The band announced a western Canadian tour in the winter of 2005. The band's line-up consisted of Jack Russell (vocals), Mark Kendall (lead guitar), Tyler Nelson (guitar), Derrick Pontier (drums) and Scott Pounds (bass). Due to undisclosed "medical reasons", the band was forced to cancel the last 20 dates of its US tour in late summer of 2005. Great White also did not perform at the VH1 Metal Mania Stripped tour. The band intended to come back and make up the cancelled shows in 2006. The band’s former tour manager, Dan Biechele, was sentenced to four years in prison in April of 2006 for operating the pyrotechnics displays that sparked The Station nightclub fire which killed 100 people. Great White’s original members Jack Russell (vocals), Mark Kendall (lead Guitar), Audie Desbrow (drums), Michael Lardie (Guitar/keyboards) and Sean McNabb (bass) entered the in the spring of 2007 writing and recording a new album called Back To The Rhythm, which was being mixed, produced, and engineered by band member Michael Lardie. The new album was expected through Shrapnel Records in August. It was issued by Frontiers Records for Europe. Sean Mcnabb left again in May, 2008 citing his preference for acting. Scott Snyder replaced him. Great White, Dokken, Sweet and Asia gave a concert to raise funds for Rancho Bernardo United Coalition and to benefit "Promoting Healing Through Music" on October 24th, 2008 at Qualcom Stadium in San Diego, California. Great White’s newest album was called Rising. The band was touring the USA through the summer of 2009. McNabb joined Dokken. Jack Russell was forced to miss the band's show at the My Waterloo Days festival in Waterloo, Iowa on May 30th of 2009 due to illness or injury. His stand-in was Terry Ilous of XYZ. Great White singer Jack Russell was forced to sit out the band’s August 12th concert at the Brixton in Redondo Beach, California due to a perforated bowel, which required surgery. His replacement for the show was Terry Ilous of XYZ with the band members also helping on vocals. There was a whole new Great White lead by singer Jack Russell called Great White Featuring Jack Russell at the end of 2011. In the band were Matthew Johnson, former guitarist for Great White and Robby Lochner, former guitarist for Halford, Dario Seixas former bassist for Firehouse and the Stephen Pearcy and Derrick Pontier former drummer for Great White. The other members of the original line-up were touring as… Great White with singer Terry Ilous of XYZ. The latter incarnation disputed Russell’s permission to use the ‘Great White’ name and accused him of being a victim of drug use and ill as a result. The Jack Russell-less version of Great White would play a 30th-anniversary concert at the Key Club in Hollywood, California on March 22, 2012. Russell, of course, duly sued. Jack Russell's Great White singer Jack Russell was forced to cancel his band's concerts in Florida in October, 2012 after he ostensibly came down with "an intestinal infection and had to (be) placed on IV and antibiotics." Great White — now with vocalist Terry Ilous — would release a live album, 0 Years - Live From The Sunset Strip on February 22nd, 2013 through Frontiers Records.
Great White and former singer Jack Russell announced that they have reached an agreement settling their litigation over the Great White name. The band calling itself Great White would continue to use the name Great White, while Russell would perform under the name Jack Russell's Great White. Original bassist Lorne Black, who appeared on the band’s first three records, died in the summer of 2013. In 2016 the website TMZ spoke with guitarist Mark Kendall who said that his band had "never" used pyrotechnics and insisted that the group that played the 2003 show in Rhode Island that claimed 100 lives was not really Great White.
GREAT WHITE - GREATEST HITS - CAPITOL
Great White has always been Sunset Strip's answer to Led Zeppelin. While the band was sometimes wrongly painted as another LA glam band in the 80's, reality put the band a little closer to a blues-based sound inspired by the British heroes. Sure, Great White would fit on a bill with Dokken or LA Guns, but the shifting line-up would also be equally at home with Zep or Whitesnake.
In that sense, the band's 'best of' disc chronicling the fatter Capitol years is not a surprise. The CD, prologued by Gerri Miller of Metal Edge fame, features the bands hits, obscure songs and a cover version or two. The first time Great White and I crossed paths was via a French TV broadcast of the band performing. The band was playing its hit of the day which is how Greatest Hits begins. Stick It, Rock Me and Face The Day begin the disc in commendable form showcasing the band's penchant for melody, harmony and an organic sound rooted in 70s' England. To prove the point, the label has included a live version of the band performing Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You performed in the spring of 1990 at MTV. Other noteworthy tracks are Mista Bone which begins like a certain Diamond Head song - those alleged purveyors of many things Zeppelin themselves over in the home base. Then again there is Call It Rock N' Roll which is a cross between AC/DC and southern rock. A little bit of everything for everyone? Not really; this is Sunset Strip's Great White after all, but that is the attraction isn't it? - Ali "The Metallian"