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Great White Reached Heyday a Decade Ago

February 22, 2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Members of the rock band Great White, who rose to fame years ago and then faded into obscurity, have returned to the spotlight _ but not for their music.

The band which emerged from Southern California during the late 1980s was performing at a Rhode Island night club Thursday when their pyrotechnic display triggered a fire that killed at least 96 people.

The band was nominated for a Grammy in 1990 for its song ``Once Bitten, Twice Shy,″ but had faded from view in recent years except for ardent fans who continued to attend its nightclub shows around the country.

Three hundred or more of those fans were in the audience as the fire raged. Nearly 200 were injured, 35 critically. The missing included Great White guitarist Ty Longley.

Mark Zicari, who shared a Los Angeles apartment with Longley, described him as a dedicated musician. ``Music was his life,″ said Zicari, 26. ``He didn’t do anything else. I’d watch TV and he’d be playing 24-7.″

Great White is made up of Longley, lead singer Jack Russell, guitarist Mark Kendall, bass player Dave Filice and drummer Eric Powers.

Founded in the early 1980s as Dante Fox, the group changed its name in 1982 and soon became one of the most popular bands on Southern California’s club circuit.

The musicians, recognizable in leather and jeans, with long, frizzy hair, recorded the album `` ... Twice Shy″ which went double platinum. They also took part in the high-profile Monsters of Rock tour with Kiss and Iron Maiden. The band’s 1991 album ``Hooked″ went gold and their other popular songs included ``Face the Day,″ ``Rock Me″ and ``Save Your Love.″

Although critics derided the group as a pale imitator of more innovative rockers, Great White fans embraced the band’s blues-based sound and unpretentious attitude.

``I’m not trying to be some innovative lyricist writing about things that nobody’s ever heard about before,″ Russell once said. ``The songs that have always been memorable to me were the ones that were simple and basic, that remind me of a situation in my life.″

Although the early ’90s grunge-rock scene of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam swept aside groups like Great White, the band was on a club tour that was to take it to the Midwest and Southwest next month.

The band’s attorney, Ed McPherson, said Friday the group had no immediate plans to continue their tour, which had already stopped in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maine.

``Certainly, they’re not in the mood to go entertain people,″ he said.


Associated Press Writers David Bauder and Robert Jablon contributed to this report.


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