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Great White Reunion Helps Push Beyond Tragedy

Of the Oakland Press

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Great White frontman Jack Russell would like to think there will be a time when he doesn’t think or have to talk about the 2003 fire at the Station club in Rhode Island, caused by the band’s pyrotechnics, in which 100 people — including guitarist Ty Longley — perished.

But he knows that will never happen.

“To totally forget about it would be disrespectful,” says Russell, 46, who remains embroiled in civil legalities stemming from the tragedy. “But it changed my life in a lot of dramatic ways. I appreciate my life so much more than I did, just simple things.

“The path I’m on right now, every single day I try to enhance someone’s life around me in any way I can. It’s more about other people nowadays, and my life’s become a lot fuller because of that.”

Russell went into rehab after the Station fire to kick cocaine and alcohol addictions. Coming out, he put the original lineup of Great White — which formed in 1981 in Los Angeles and had its biggest hit with a 1987 cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” — to celebrate the group’s 25th anniversary.

With past animosities forgiven, the quintet has recorded a new album, “Back to the Rhythm,” and Russell anticipates that this lineup will “do this till we can’t do it anymore.”

“It’s really comfortable,” he says. “It’s like, ‘All right, here we are doing it again, 25 years later — how cool is that?’ Everyone is feeling really appreciative that we’re so blessed after all this time to still do it.

“We’re even talking about the next album’s artwork, y’know? And I’m saying, ‘Whoa, let’s write the (music) first!’ ”

Great White and Dokken perform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (August 16th) at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road north of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $32.40 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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