Great White bandmates hit the stage in first public performance since deadly fire
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) - Two members of the rock band Great White made a tearful return to the stage in their first public appearance since a fire killed 99 people at their concert in Rhode Island.
Guitarist Mark Kendall and lead singer Jack Russell played a somber rendition of the song "Motherï¿½s Eyes" off of their 1994 album "Sail Away" at the Key Club late Tuesday.
The pair expressed sorrow over the loss of their guitarist Ty Longley and the "98 other Great White family members," who were killed in the Feb. 20 blaze at The Station nightclub in West Warick, R.I.
"If this has taught me anything, itï¿½s how fragile and precious life really is," Russell said, stopping numerous times during the introduction to wipe tears from his eyes.
Earlier, attorney Ed McPherson, who represents the group, said that Great White would perform as part of a nationwide tour with other rock bands and donate their percentage of the profits to existing charities in Rhode Island.
"Their thoughts from the beginning have been, ï¿½What are we going to do to help the victims?ï¿½ And the only thing they do is perform." McPherson said.
Investigators suspect the bandï¿½s pyrotechnics ignited foam that had been placed on the clubï¿½s walls for soundproofing. A grand jury is investigating.
Organizers of the latest concert said proceeds would be donated to a charity supervised by Longleyï¿½s family and earmarked for a scholarship and trust fund for the 31-year-old musicianï¿½s unborn child.
After reaching a career peak in 1990 with a cover of the Ian Hunter song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," Great White has performed mainly as a nostalgia act at smaller venues.
In addition to founding members Kendall and Russell, its current lineup includes bass player Dave Filice and drummer Eric Powers.
Hours before the Great White members were to perform, about 100 ticket holders, flanked by nearly a dozen reporters and photographers, milled about the club. Most said they came to honor the memory of friends who died in the blaze.
Duane Serfass, 30, of San Francisco handed out badges with a photo of his friend Jeff Rader, who he said escaped the club fire but died when he went back in to try to rescue his girlfriend.
"I just want to make sure that my friend is recognized," Serfass said.