Great White

Until the night of February 20, 2003, Great White enjoyed a nice little niche in the music business as a guaranteed, small-arena draw. Over 22 years, the band built a solid reputation for its authentic heavy metal/hard-rock sound and was more than once on the cusp of big-time fame. An unshakeable case of the 'not quites' [not quite Led Zeppelin, not quite Jimmy Page, not quite ground-breaking], however, kept Great White in the second tier, small venue and club circuit where their stardom was steady if not brilliant. "Once Bitten" in 1987, "Twice Shy" in '89 and "Hooked" from '91 went platinum, platinum and should-have-been in that order, and a 1999 Led Zeppelin tribute album kept the band in the clubs and on tour. By 2002, Great White's line-up had churned several times, and singer Jack Russell, who'd already released one solo album, announced the band's breakup only to reconvene the group a short time later as back-up on his "For You" tour. On February 20, 2003, the band played The Station, a Providence, Rhode Island club where a mid-set, pyrotechnics disaster set the place on fire and caused 100 deaths, one of which was Great White guitarist Ty Longley. Genuinely sorrowful but cleared of wrongdoing, the band resumed a truncated tour schedule later and continues to donate ticket proceeds towards their Station Fund for victims and families. Ironically, the evening of July 4, 2004 saw Great White set to perform at a St. Petersburg, Florida venue an hour before the downtown fireworks display.

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