Great White Announce Benefit Tour For Club Fire Victims

Band is in talks with Warrant, L.A. Guns to join 55-city trek.

Great White are lining up a 55-city nationwide tour to benefit the families of victims and survivors of the Rhode Island club fire that killed nearly 100 people in February.

The band is in discussions with Warrant and L.A. Guns to join the trek, which will start in early June. Great White will donate their part of the profits, and some of the proceeds from the other bands’ performances will likely also be donated, according to Great White lawyer Ed McPherson, who added that no pyrotechnics will be used at the shows.

McPherson made the tour announcement outside West Hollywood’s Key Club on Tuesday night before Great White singer Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall took the stage at their first scheduled performance since the February 20 Station club fire that killed 99 people, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley.

At Tuesday’s event, a benefit to raise money for a scholarship program and trust fund for Longley’s unborn child, Russell and Kendall played an acoustic version of “Mother’s Eyes,” from Great White’s Sail Away (1994), for an audience of about 400. The bandmembers reiterated their mission during the performance, radio station KNX-AM reported.

“I can assure that this is just the beginning of the help that people will receive on Great White’s behalf,” Russell said. “It’s very important to us that we take care of our own.” When he spoke to the audience during the show, Russell got choked up and burst into tears at one point.

Joining the members of Great White at the Ty Longley Benefit Concert were XYZ, 5 Cent Shine and Samantha 7, which features Poison’s C.C. DeVille. Longley played with most of the groups at one time.

Last week Russell and Kendall surprised an audience at the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Hills when they performed “Mother’s Eyes” at a less publicized benefit for the Baby Longley fund, organized by Longley’s pregnant girlfriend, Heidi.

In recent days, bitterness has arisen between Heidi and Longley’s parents. On her Web site and in interviews, she has complained that she hasn’t seen any money from the Ty Longley Foundation, the Ty Longley Fund or the Ty Longley Memorial Fund. “I’m sorry you were all misinformed and sent money to these funds,” she wrote on her Web site.

Great White’s attorney insists that’s not the case. Longley’s parents, who have overseen much of the benefit activity so far, have placed the money for Longley’s baby in a trust fund that Heidi can’t immediately access, a move that has infuriated her, McPherson said.

The members of Great White are expected to be named in more than a dozen new lawsuits in the coming months. The Station fire erupted after pyrotechnics the band shot off ignited flammable foam the club had used for soundproofing (see “At Least 96 Dead At Rock Show Fire” ). So far three suits have been filed, including one in federal court (see “Rhode Island Club Fire Suits Could Be Consolidated” ).

“Irrespective of the lawsuits and the criminal stuff, they wanted to get out there and tour and help the victims,” McPherson said.

The Key Club show was the third tribute for the Station fire victims and families. On April 22, Justincase, Billy Gilman, Phoebe Snow, Blue Öyster Cult, the Southern Rock All-Stars (ex-members of Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot and the Rossington Band), Rick Derringer and others played for around 3,000 ticket holders at the Providence Performing Arts Center (see “Artists Unite To Benefit Families Of Station Fire” ).

Look out for your own safety, and check out “How To Keep Yourself Safe If There’s A Crowd Crush Or Fire At A Club.”