Ex-GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell says that he accepts the blame for his split with his former band, explaining that the group's breakup was "totally" his fault.
Russell sued his onetime bandmates five years ago over their continued use of the GREAT WHITE name after the singer had taken a leave of absence from the band for medical reasons. A short time later, Russell was countersued by Mark Kendall, Michael Lardie and Audie Desbrow, claiming the singer's self-destructive behavior was damaging the GREAT WHITE name (they also alleged he was charging promoters less for his own touring version of GREAT WHITE). The parties settled in July 2013 without going to trial, with Russell now performing with a new lineup as JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE while the others are continuing as GREAT WHITE.
Speaking to "The Rock Brigade" podcast, Russell now says about the breakdown of his relationship with his former band (hear audio below): "It was totally my fault. I accept the blame. The only thing that I had against them, and still kind of hold a little bit of a grudge, is that nobody called me to tell me they didn't wanna play with me. They were just like… They never called me — ever! When I was in the hospital dying, they didn't call to say, 'Hey, man, we're really pissed off at you for all the shit you've done and we don't wanna play with you anymore, but how're you doing, old friend?' Nothing!"
He continues: "I've heard from a really reliable source… A friend of mine and a friend of theirs was in the dressing room the night of the Jani Lane [WARRANT] memorial, and I was there, and Michael Lardie had said, 'cause he heard I was very sick, 'Why doesn't that guy just die already?' And I was, like, 'Woah! How could you even say something like that about me?' It hurts. A guy like Kendall, who, we put the band together back in 1977 when I was 16 years old. We've been through everything together. And to have him just turn on you and not even tell you, have the decency to say, 'Hey, man, you know what? We don't wanna play with you anymore.' Instead of just, like, ignoring it and it'll go away. That was really insulting."
After "The Rock Brigade"'s Jeb Wright suggests that there were "a lot of strong personalities in GREAT WHITE," which would have made the decision-making process more difficult, Russell says: "No. It wasn't at all. I ruled everything. [It was] all me. It was a bunch of weak personalities is what it was. The only reason that they had… Well, see, they didn't have the nuts to call me and fire me. And two of 'em didn't have a say anyway, because they were just 1099 employees at the time — the drummer and the keyboard player. They were hired by my corporation. So they're acting like… They're trying to change history when they talk about everything."
He continues: "There was a point to where… I always had my tour manager call me and wake me up in the afternoon. And every day they'd go, 'How did Jack sound today? Was he in a good mood?' I'd get to soundcheck and nobody would speak to me until I spoke to them, 'cause they were afraid of getting their ass chewed out. I used to be a real asshole. It was my band and they made no bones about it. That's just the way it was. I'm the one that went out and got us the record deal with Sony; that was me — not manager, nobody else, just me. [A&R guru] John Kalodner didn't wanna talk to any manager or anybody else — he just wanted to talk to me — so him and I negotiated the record deal. And I'm the one that convinced him to sign the band. It took me a long time, man. I had so many lunches at the Ivy [restaurant], I could tell you their menu."
In his original lawsuit, Russell claimed that his former bandmates kicked him out of GREAT WHITE and stole the group's name while he was recovering from surgery to repair a perforated bowel.
Kendall, Desbrow and Lardie filed a 30-page counterclaim in April 2012 in a federal court in Los Angeles accusing their former frontman of, among other things, "miss[ing] 80 performances in 18 months" before leaving the band; "irreparably damag[ing]" their "market reputation" by putting on performances that "are not up to the standard of GREAT WHITE; and misleading the public by stating that the musicians in Jack's new band "were once full members of GREAT WHITE." They also accused Russell's new bandmates of "profit[ing] from their wrongful affiliation with the GREAT WHITE brand."
JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE's debut album, "He Saw it Comin'" (originally titled "The Gauntlet"), was released on January 27 via Frontiers Music Srl. The disc features Jack Russell alongside former GREAT WHITE bassist-turned-guitarist Tony Montana (as a guitar player and keyboardist), Dan McNay (MONTROSE) on bass, Robby Lochner (FIGHT) on guitar and Dicki Fliszar (BRUCE DICKINSON) on drums.