Great White plans tour with money going to victimsï¿½ funds
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) - After paying tribute to their late guitarist and announcing plans for a summer concert tour, two members of the rock band Great White delivered their first public performance since a fire killed 99 people at their last 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 on Tuesday night.
"Words could never express the pain and sorrow and sadness that we feel over the loss of our guitarist and friend Ty Longley and 98 other Great White family members," Russell said, stopping numerous times during the introduction to wipe tears from his eyes. "If this has taught me anything, itï¿½s how fragile and precious life really is."
While some in the audience shouted, "We love you guys," Russell explained the group hopes the tour would help raise money for victims of the Feb. 20 blaze at The Station nightclub in West Warick, R.I.
Earlier Tuesday, attorney Ed McPherson, who represents the group, said Great White would perform on a ticket 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 do is perform. So thatï¿½s the only way they know that they can help the victims - to raise money for the victims," McPherson said.
Plans for the tour weï¿½re still being worked out, McPherson said, but he added that two groups that may take part are Warrant and LA Guns.
The attorney made the announcement outside West Hollywoodï¿½s Key Club, before the first public performance by Kendall and Russell since the deadly fire. Investigators suspect the bandï¿½s pyrotechnics ignited foam that had been placed on the clubï¿½s walls for soundproofing. A grand jury is investigating.
Along with several other Los Angeles rock bands, the pair agreed to perform in honor of Longley, who was among the scores who perished in the fire. Concert organizers said proceeds would be donated to a charity supervised by Longleyï¿½s family and earmarked for a scholarship assistance program and trust fund for the 31-year-old musicianï¿½s unborn child, due Aug. 3.
After reaching a career peak in 1990 with a version of the song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," the longhaired, guitar-rock group Great White has performed mainly as a nostalgia act at smaller venues around the country.
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.
Justin Fredericksen, 24, of San Diego wore a T-shirt that read: "Rock On Ty." Fredericksen, who said Longley was his stepbrother, added that he wanted to keep the guitaristï¿½s memory alive.
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.