Great White Biography

This Los Angeles, California, USA-based heavy metal band was formed (as Dante Fox) in 1981 by Jack Russell (5 December 1960, Montebello, California, USA; vocals), Mark Kendall (b. 29 April 1957, Loma Linda, California, USA; guitar), Lorne Black (bass) and Gary Holland (drums). Changing their name to Great White, they adopted a no-frills approach from the start, relying on the music - earthy, honest blues rock delivered with stunning precision - rather than gimmicks. The band attracted the attention of EMI Records with their self-financed mini-album, Out Of The Night, produced by their friend Don Dokken. Unfortunately, the momentum was not maintained and their EMI debut was erratic and sold poorly, and the band was subsequently dropped. Far from disillusioned, they funded the recording of Shot In The Dark out of their own pockets, which eventually opened the door to a new contract with Capitol Records. Lorne Black and Gary Holland had already broken rank by this stage and were replaced by Tony Montana and Audie Desbrow (b. 17 May 1957, Los Angeles, California, USA), respectively. Michael Lardie (b. 8 September 1958, Anchorage, Alaska, USA) was also added on keyboards to expand the line-up to a five-piece and add an extra dimension to the band’s sound. Enjoying the benefits of a larger budget, Once Bitten... received considerable critical acclaim with its more melodic, accessible sound. Sales of the album went on to pass the million mark. Recovery...Live paid homage to their roots, being an inspired selection of blues-styled cover versions from the Who, Led Zeppelin, Humble Pie and Jimi Hendrix. ... Twice Shy and Hooked consolidated their success with further platinum awards.

Montana was replaced by Dave Spitz in 1992, who was in turn replaced by Teddy Cook. The band parted company with Capitol following the release of a compilation set, and signed a new recording contract with Zoo Entertainment. Sail Away, the first album to feature Cook, was influenced by UK writer Julian Barnes’ novel The History Of The World In Ten And A Half Chapters. The band continued to release new studio albums, albeit with diminishing returns, although they remained a popular live attraction. New bass player Sean McNabb (b. 24 September 1965, South Bend, Indiana, USA) featured on 1999’s Can’t Get There From Here. Desbrow left in 2000 and was replaced by Derrick Pontier. Ty Longley (b. 4 September 1974, Sharon, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 20 February 2003) replaced founder member Kendall the same year.

Tragedy struck Great White and many of their fans on 20 February 2003, when a fire broke out at the band’s concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Guitarist Longley was among the 100 people who lost their lives.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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