Great White lead singer apologizes for Rhode Island nightclub fire

He plans to make a documentary about the horrific tragedy.

Jack Russell of Great White outside the Saint Rocke rock club in Hermosa, CA. on Feb. 7, 2013. (Eric Grigorian for The Boston Globe)

Jack Russell of Great White in 2013.

In February 2003, tragedy struck Rhode Island nightclub The Station when a fire started during a concert from rock band Great White. One hundred people were killed.

Now, Jack Russell, the band’s lead singer, is making a documentary about the experience. He sees it as a chance to say he’s sorry.

In an interview last week, Russell told Portland, Oregon radio station 105.9 The Brew that he has survivor’s guilt and called the incident the “9/11 of rock ‘n’ roll.’’


Firefighters spray water on to the charred nightclub, The Station, where 100 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured in West Warwick, R.I. in 2003.

’’Why did I get to live and so many other people didn’t?’’ Russell said in the interview. “I feel guilty for people coming to see me play and losing their lives. It’s really hard to deal with it.’’

The West Warwick nightclub went up in flames part of the way into Great White’s set when pyrotechnics set fire to foam insulation above the stage. Lead guitarist Ty Longley was killed in the fire. The tour manager, who set off the pyrotechnics without a permit, and the brothers who owned The Station all struck plea deals, which led to prison time for one of the brothers and the tour manager. Russell and the other members of Great White settled a lawsuit for $1 million.

Great White continues to tour, although they haven’t played in New England since the fire.

“It’s not like I had anything personally to do,’’ Russell told The Brew. “It was just a horrible accident. A lot of weird things had to come into play to make that happen.’’


Russell told the radio station that right after the tragedy occurred, his lawyers told him not to apologize, as it would make it seem as though he were guilty to a court of law. More than a decade later, he said he is trying to make up for lost time.

“It’s really hard, you know, but it’s going to give me a chance to apologize and say how I feel about it,’’ he said on the radio show. “I never had the chance to say I was sorry.’’

The fire and Russell’s guilt following the incident are some of the major topics of the documentary, which Russell is now working on but for which he has not yet announced a release date. The film will likely cover Russell’s entire journey as a musician.

Russell has not said if any of the proceeds from the upcoming documentary will benefit the families of the victims of the fire.


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