My colleague, Pat Reavy, interviewed Jack Russell, the lead singer of Great White, a couple of weeks ago for a story that appeared in the Deseret News on April 9. The article discussed a show that was suppose to feature Skid Row, Great White and Adler’s Appetite at the Sandy Expo Center.
Well, things didn’t go as planned, and I asked Pat to follow up. He talked with Russell again. Here’s what Pat found:
On paper, it looked like it would be a good show.
Great White, Skid Row and Adler’s Appetite were being promoted as playing the unfortunately named “Butt Rock Concert” (or something like that) at something called “The Man Expo.”
Aside from the spectacle of seeing ex-Guns N’ Roses drummer turned celebrity rehab reality star Steven Adler, Great White was by far the main musical attraction.
Although the band technically wasn’t the headliner (that was Skid Row’s spot), it was Great White that came with nearly 30 years of history, a Grammy nomination, platinum records, some of the biggest rock anthems of the 1980s, not to mention the core four members are back together and playing as tight as they ever have.
On April 9, however, not only was Adler a no show, but after a local band opened, a promoter announced that Great White would not be performing and Skid Row was “on their way” from the hotel. After sound check, Skid Row ended up playing only about 45 minutes before a midnight curfew forced them to call it an evening.
From the stage, the man announcing Great White’s cancellation said it was an insurance-policy issue.
Wednesday, I talked to lead singer Jack Russell, who wanted to set the record straight.
While Russell sympathizes with the job concert promoters do (“I would never want to put on a show. I’d never want to be a promoter.”), he said the fault Friday was clearly with the show’s promoter.
“The promoter didn’t know what he was doing,” he said. “It was a total cluster.”
The biggest problem was the company hired to bring all the sound equipment that night hadn’t been paid, Russell said. The company refused to set up their equipment until they got their money, preventing the bands from doing sound check.
“We had gotten there earlier that day and nothing was set up,” Russell said.
Great White themselves hadn’t seen any money at that point, but Russell said the band still would have done their show. The biggest problem once the bills were finally paid, however, was time.
Great White was scheduled to catch a red-eye flight from Salt Lake City to Virginia for a show the next night. When the promoter finally told the band that the sound crew had been paid, “It was 15 minutes before we had to leave,” he said.
“We don’t fly anywhere we don’t want to play,” Russell said of the band’s desire to perform that night. “It’s unfortunate. Those who get hurt are the fans. It wasn’t just a money thing. There was just no time. We said, ‘We can’t possibly do this now. There’s no way to get the sound up fast enough.'”
On top of that, Russell said the promoter told them they’d still be on after the opening band.
“We were like, ‘What opening act?’ Have the opening act play after us, we don’t care.’ It just didn’t work,” he said. “(The promoters) bit off more than they could chew.”
Russell said he and Great White will return to Salt Lake City to do a make-up show, and this time do it on their own terms.
“We will be back soon,” he promised.
I’ve interviewed Russell, guitarist Mark Kendall and keyboardist Michael Lardie several times over the past decade. In my experience with Jack, he has never shied away from an interview or controversy. Whether it’s getting up at 7:30 a.m. (like he did Wednesday) or even after the tragic night club fire in Rhode Island, he’s always agreed to be interviewed, keeping his appointment and answering all questions.
Jack is a guy who understands that Great White can’t continue doing what they do without fans. He’s grateful for his fans and hates to disappoint them.
But it’s also a business. And in this case, poor business prevented GW from playing.
To the fans, Jack says he apologizes on behalf of the entire band.
Now, he hopes to return to Salt Lake City soon for a real show.