Great White was formed in the early ’80s by vocalist Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall. Unlike many others, more glam influenced, bands from L.A scene Great White were playing more Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith- and AC/DC-influenced metal and they soon got their own rapidly growing base. The bands first release, an independent album called OUT OF THE NIGHT, sold more than 20,000 copies in 1982 and soon they were signed to major label EMI. Unfortunately that relationship didn’t last too long and band found themselves doing another independent album after just one release with. EMI. Another independent release SHOT IN THE DARK was released in 1983 at it did help the band to get a new deal with another major label Capitol Records. The album was released by Capitol in 1987 and later on the same year they released their breakthrough album ONCE BITTEN which went platinum. The smash hit single "Rock Me" became a true hard rock anthem. Things went even better with bands next release TWICE SHY which included the band’s biggest hit to date; a cover of an old Mott The Hoople classic "Once Bitten .. Twice Shy". The single had massive success and it helped Great White to get slots ongreat tours in late 80’s. The band toured with other multiplatinum bands like Ratt and Tesla and they played at some of the biggest European festivals like the Monsters of Rock -tour along with such bands as Iron Maiden, David Lee Roth and KISS.
In the early 90’s the band’s record sales started to go down and like many other bands from their era they finally got dropped from Capitol in 1993 after the disappointing sales of PSYCHO CITY. The band soon found a new home from Zoo and they released SAIL AWAY via that label in 1994. LET IT ROCK came out in 1996 and it was released by another new label Imago. Although the band wasn’t in headlines much anymore they still kept constantly touring, mostly in clubs, across the U.S and in 1999 they got another deal from John Kalodner’s label Portrait. Although the next album CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE did pretty well and sold about 80 000 copies in the U.S alone, the band slowly disbanded after band member after member left and finally it was only Jack Russell left from the classic line up. Officially band called it quits after the farewell show, including almost complete classic line up, in the end of 2002 and later on that show was released as a live album called THANK YOU GOODNIGHT.
Jack Russell continued his career as a solo artist and soon he started to call his backing band Great White. Although Jack Russell’s Great White, also known as a "fake white", were soon joined by Mark Kendall on guitar they were totally forgotten by the mainstream. That was until pyrotechnics used by the band sparked a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub on February 20, 2003, killing 100 people, including the band’s second guitarist at that time, Ty Longley. Since then the band kept on touring and doing benefit concerts for victims of the fire. In early 2007 the band decided to regroup its classic lineup: Russell, Kendall, Audie Desbrow, Michael Lardie and bassist, since 1996, Sean McNabb and celebrate their 25’Th anniversary with some shows on the West Coast. Later in the same year the band released their first album of original material in eight years called BACK TO THE RHYTHM. The band arrived to do their first European tour in years last January and I was able to sit down with Mark and Audie prior to the bands sold out concert in Copenhagen. Here we go, the past, present and future of Great White !
INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
TRANSCRPTION BY NEIL BATTY