Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Great White - Once Bitten

Great White, a Bluesy Hard Rock band, was at their peak 20 years ago. Great White's 1989 album …Twice Shy, which featured the Top 5 hit "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", went double platinum. Read below a brief background of the band; followed by the number one music video "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" in the Burger King Top 5 Rock Video count down. Then terribly in 2003, tragedy hit with the horrid fire at a Rhode Island night club. Read the Great White stories below and enjoy the music video. Kenny Leibow

Band Background
Great White came together in 1978 in the Los Angeles area, the brainchild of singer Jack Russell. The group played blues-influenced hard rock in the style of Led Zeppelin, updated for the MTV generation. The band was first known as Dante Fox, and its original lineup consisted of Russell on vocals, Mark Kendall on guitar, Lorne Black on bass, and Gary Holland on drums. Playing first in small local clubs, the band gained a following, moving up to larger venues and changing its name to Great White along the way.

The band's first recording was an EP called Out of the Night, which was produced by Don Dokken, founder of the band Dokken, and financed by the group in 1982. Another record,On Your Knees, quickly followed in the same year. The EMI record label signed the band on the strength of these releases, but dropped it after sales of its first recording with the label, Great White, failed to meet expectations.

After leaving EMI, Great White moved to Capitol Records, and there its fortunes soared, and the group enjoyed widespread popularity throughout the rest of the decade. Great White's fourth album (and first Capitol release) Once Bitten hit the Billboard Top 30 chart in 1987. The band also picked up a Grammy nomination in 1990 for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" on its followup Twice Shy album, released in 1989. Other songs for which the band became well known included "Face the Day," "Rock Me," and "Save Your Love." The group's last successful Capitol recording was Hooked, which was released in 1991.

At its peak, they were the main event at 20,000- to 60,0000-seat arenas and shared the stage with top bands such as Kiss and Iron Maiden. Great White became popular in an era of "hair metal" bands who filled football stadiums and dominated MTV playing loud music and sporting wild hairdos and heavy makeup. Most of these bands fell out of favor and even stopped playing when this era drew to a close. Great White, however, found a way to keep playing, perhaps because unlike many other popular metal bands of the time, they focused first and foremost on the music they played, instead of merely cultivating a flashy image. The band turned to smaller clubs as their bread and butter, touring in lesser venues and cutting albums on independent record labels after being dropped by Capitol Records in the early 1990s.

…Twice Shy
Released 1989
Capitol Records
Track Listing

1. Move It
(Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie)
2. Heart The Hunter
(Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie)
3. Hiway Nights
(Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie)
4. The Angel Song
(Kendall, Niven)
5. Mista Bone
(Kendall, Niven, Desbrow, Montana)
6. Baby's On Fire
(Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie, Montana)
7. House Of Broken Love
(Russell, Niven, Lardie)
8. She Only
(Kendall, Russell, Niven, Lardie)
9. Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Jack Russell — Vocals
Mark Kendall — Lead guitar
Michael Lardie — Guitar & keyboards
Audie Desbrow — Drums
Tony Montana — Bass

Produced and arranged by Alan Niven and Michael Lardie
Engineered by Michael Lardie

Great White - Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Tragedy 2003
Tragedy struck while the band was on this new tour, which they dubbed "Play On 2003." The Station, a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, was packed for the band's performance on February 20, 2003. The show featured pyrotechnics--three spinning wheels of sparks that were harmless if they struck people, but that could ignite flammable materials. At the start of the band's show, the pyrotechnics went off, shooting sparks at the ceiling over the stage. The sound insulation behind the band caught fire, and from there the blaze spread rapidly to the nightclub walls.

Many fans at first thought the flames were part of the show, and panic did not strike until the ceiling caught fire. The wooden nightclub was engulfed in flames almost immediately, trapping the audience, band, and crew inside. Because of a loophole in Rhode Island law, the building was not required to have a sprinkler system, and the blaze swept through the building unchecked. Michael Powell and Christopher Lee of the Washington Post called the fire "one of the worst such tragedies in the nation's history." Among the dead was guitarist Ty Longley, who had joined the band in 2000.

Accusations flew between the surviving members of Great White and the nightclub's owners. Club owners claimed that the band did not have permission to use pyrotechnics during its show, while the band claimed that the club owners had been duly informed and had presented no objections. Fire department officials said that neither the band nor the nightclub had applied for the required permits before setting off pyrotechnics, and furthermore, that no permits would have been granted because of the size and construction of the nightclub.