Great White singer’s fire memorial benefit show nixed


LOS ANGELES — Great White singer Jack Russell’s plan to donate proceeds from a Feb. 7 gig in Hermosa Beach, Calif., to a memorial in Rhode Island to victims of a deadly fire that broke out during the L.A. heavy metal band’s show there 10 years ago has been nixed by officials at the foundation Russell’s show would have benefited.

Russell recently announced he would give money from his show to the Station Fire Memorial Foundation, which is attempting to raise $1 million to build a permanent memorial to commemorate 100 people who died in the Feb. 20, 2003, fire that also injured more than 200 more when pyrotechnics in Great White’s stage show ignited flammable foam in the Station nightclub in West Warwick. Among those killed were Great White guitarist Ty Longley.

Foundation vice president Victoria Egan said in a statement Friday that the foundation’s request to Russell not to use the foundation’s name in conjunction with his concert “is due to the resentment and animosity still felt by many of the families and survivors that our very organization represents. We feel that the upset caused by his involvement would outweigh the amount of funds raised at this event.”

In a statement of his own, Russell said he would honor their request and donate the funds to another charity, saying, “I am utterly saddened by the response of the foundation and the motives behind it.”

Following the fire, Great White staged benefits that raised $185,000 for the Station Family Fund, which helped people who were severely burned in the fire as well as children who lost parents and others.

The band also agreed to pay $1 million to settle lawsuits brought by victims and their families, part of a deal in which the group admitted no wrongdoing. Great White’s tour manager, who set off the pyrotechnics, pleaded guilty to 100 counts of manslaughter and the brothers who owned the club pleaded no contest. The group subsequently disbanded.