Great White vs Jack Russell Saga Continues
Just a few posts ago that I did this morning, I told you guys that Jack Russell, formerly of Great White, has formed a new band, “Loaded” with Matthew Johnson, Derrick Pontier, Dario Seixas, and Robby Lochner and apparently this has caught his former bandmates by surprise.
Now it’s turned nasty with Mark Kendall, Audie Desbrow, Michael Lardie, Scott Snyder and Terry Ilous responding by saying Russell has no rights to use the Great White name and that they will litigate any promoter that books the band as Great White featuring Jack Russell.
In a statement posted at the band’s official website:
“First and foremost, our main concern is our fans. We have spent 30 years trying to be the best we can be and bring our fans the top quality of music they have become accustomed to and deserve. It saddens us today to have to respond to Jack Russell’s announcement.
Jack Russell announced on Facebook on Saturday, December 10th, 2011 that he was returning to Great White with a new line-up. This was a complete shock to the entire Great White Family.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
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 10th, 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.”
Now then, Jack has responded to the official statement from Great White via an interview with Gerry Gittelson of Metal Sludge. Some of that interview is below. To read all of Part I of that interview, click here.
Metal Sludge: How are you, Jack. And what I mean is, how are you really, your health?
Jack Russell: Well, there’s been so much stuff. So many surgeries, two back surgeries because the first one didn’t take, a perforated bowel, a broken pelvis, a shattered femur (leg) and a few other things. I’m like the Evel Knievel of Rock. I’m still walking with a cane, but I’m clean and sober for four months, the longest I’ve been sober in a long, long time. I’m getting healthy, losing weight. I’m back in fighting shape. And I’m hanging with sober friends.”
MS: Well, then, why isn’t that good enough for Great White? What’s really going on?
JR: There was just so much animosity. My injuries cost the other guys in Great White money, and I guess that’s more important than friendship. They did not want me to come back, so I wish them all the best of luck. I wish there was another way, but there are plenty of shows out there for both bands. They can do their own Great White. I don’t care.”
MS: So when did you decide to form your own band? The other Great White guys are saying they’re totally blindsided by this.
JR: “I decided this months ago. You know what? I was in the hospital, and during this time, they kept telling everyone they were calling me every week, but it wasn’t true. I mean, I understand what happened, and how it was all my fault. But I was there for them when they screwed up, but now they don’t want Jack back because they say I’m not sober. They want to play with Terry as their singer, I say go ahead.
MS: So you’re a recovering drug addict dealing with pain issues – that’s a tough one.
JR: Yes, my doc said I am going to have to take pain meds for the rest of my life, but non-narcotic meds.
MS: There’s more to this thing than drugs or medication, am I right?
JR: Yes, I understand why Great White doesn’t want me back. For whatever reason, they don’t respect me, and that’s the bottom line. But I’m not going to bash them because they’ve been my friends for years. But there is a lot of animosity because I cost them a lot of money, yet there is another side to it because they had me out touring when I shouldn’t have even been out there. I should have been in a hospital. I put my own health in jeopardy for them. It is what it is, I wish them the best, despite all this stuff.
MS: Great White’s manager, Obi Steinman, seems like he is right in the middle of this. He says he does not do interviews, not on the record, anyway.
JR: “It’s pretty much Obi’s band, and I wanted Great White to be my band. Obi is a good manager. He helped the band through some hard times and I have respect for him in that regard. But I want to captain my own ship. And when I’ve been disrespected, I feel like I kind of lost the wheel to the ship, and when that happens, you can’t get it back again. I want the ship to go on my course. Captain Jack is back.”
MS: Great White has sent out a press release about the whole thing, and you’re not going to like it, Jack.
JR: I know. I just saw it. The thing is, I don’t care what they say. The proof is in the pudding. Everyone is going to see that Jack is back, that it’s all rumors. I mean, do people really give a shit if I’m sober or not? They can come, they’ll see I look great, I sound great. I want everyone to come out and see. I’m starting with a booking agent tomorrow. This Jan. 14th thing is just a jam, and only four-fifths of the band is going to be there because Matt Johnson is going to be in Texas, but starting in February, I’m doing a a tour.
MS: Well, the Great White guys and their manager have a totally different opinion on whether you’re fit to keep going. I have never seen two camps so totally far apart.
JR: They’re just trying to make me look bad. They feel scared and threatened, and they should be. They don’t own the name. This is my band. Everyone knows this is my band. I started in 1978 and changed the name in 1982. The others, they came in because I was the one who invited them. It was cool for a while before all this crap started. They don’t own the name, they don’t own the logo. Obi Steinman sues everyone in the world, but I’m lucid, I’m clear, and I’m sober. Just because I had a rough year and a half does not mean that I gave up on my band. My name has always been synonymous with Great White. I came up with the name, and I am entitled to use it. The other Great White, with Terry Illous singing my songs and my lyrics, now he’s sticking his name into this, covering my tunes. Write your own stuff, dude.