Once Bitten…Twice the Bands?

The Jack Russell Story – as told by Jack.

By Ted “Hollywood” Heckman, TRO Contributor

Los Angeles, 1977 city of Angels. Jack Russell was making the scene on the Sunset strip when he ran into Mark Kendall somewhere between the Whiskey A Go-Go and the Key Club. Kendall had run into Russell before and knew of his vocal prowess and asked Jack Russell to join his band on the spot.

They decided to form a band together and call it Highway. Only a short time later they decided to change it to Livewire and played one final show as wires. Then in 1979 Russell was arrested for shooting a live-in maid in a botched robbery attempt and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Of course, this prompted the band to go its separate ways and Kendall was left to start over. Kendall recruited bassist, Don Costa {later a one-time member of the Ozzy Osbourne band} and drummer, Tony Richards {later a member of Wasp}. They auditioned several singers including John Bush from Armored St. They finally settled on a female singer named Lisa Baker. They played their first gig in 1979 with singer, Lisa Baker in the form of Dante Fox. This short-lived band only lasted six months before Lisa left to join George Lynch in the band, Exciter. So, insert singer Butch, whose style was similar to that of Rob Halford. But in the interim Kendall found out that Russell had been released from prison after only serving 18 months of his sentence. Russell talked Kendall into an audition and he got in the band by a two to one vote. They played their first gig with Russell at the Troubadour in Hollywood, California.

In 1981 the band chose manager, Alan Niven who had worked with Motley Crue's self-titled release. It was Niven who suggested the name change from Dante Fox after seeing Kendall stick his head out of the car window while driving by the Troubadour. Some kid in the crowd said there goes great white (referring to Kendall) and that’s how he got the nickname. That, and due to his naturally white blonde hair, white Fender telecaster guitar, white jumpsuit and white Capezio shoes.

The band soon found themselves in the studio and recorded and released a five song EP entitled, "Out of the Night". Niven then convinced the Los Angeles radio station KMET to begin adding songs from the EP to its playlist in heavy rotation. KLOS-FM soon did the same. The band suddenly went from drawing 100 people in a local club to drawing thousands in LA concert halls. One of the biggest draws was at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California playing to 6250 people.

Near the end of 1983 EMI America signed the band and released Great White's eponymous album. In early 1984 the band immediately toured the UK supporting Whitesnake's Slide it in Tour as well as the entire US and Canada opening for Judas Priest's Defenders of the Faith Tour.

Blah, blah, blah ...and history is still being made...

Or so, Wikipedia would have you believe. What follows is the real story straight from the Man himself, Mr. Jack Russell.

My phone rings at 430 pm on Feb 13th. This is a busy day as this is my birthday and the wife is cooking dinner for a celebration party. I had scheduled an interview with Jack Russell, the former lead vocalist of 80s icon, Great White. I answer the phone, "Hello this is Ted".

Jack Russell: Ted, its Jack Russell, how are you brother?

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Good, Good thanks for giving me a call!

Jack Russell: I appreciate your time man.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Alright, so this interview is for Thunder Roads Magazine.

Jack Russell: Oh no no not that magazine, I can’t do that. hahaha just kidding!

Ted Hollywood Heckman: This should hit shelves prior to your Hard Rock Rocksino date with Warrant.

Jack Russell: Awesome. Early promotion is always good. You would be surprised how many don’t promote at all, hahaha.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So what's off limits? What can we not talk about, what can we talk about?

Jack Russell: You can talk about anything you want, you know. If it's something I don't want to talk about I will just tell you.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: All right that sounds good. Let's go back to the very beginning. If you're ready to do this.

Jack Russell: Yeah, no I don't want to talk about that. I'm so kidding {both of us laugh} I'll be serious now haha. Yeah whatever you like man. Um fire away; the very beginning it was 1978 when I started this band. I was 17 years old, now I’m 57. So, if you do the math, I have been doing this a long time hahaha. That’s just Great White. I started my first band when I was 11 years old. Great White in a roundabout way, it kind of evolved from my first band. It’s really strange. I mean how far back do you want to go..haha you tell me.

Ted Hollywood Heckman. You are known for Great White so let’s start there. How did this start? Were you walking down sunset strip one day and you ran into somebody and said, "hey let's start a band or...?"

Jack Russell: I quit a lot of bands before Great White. I was in several bands, one in which was a prog band and that wasn't my cup of tea. So I went to another band and they were doing backyard parties and playing covers. One day I said, "guys we aren’t going to get discovered playing back yards and covers. No one is going to drive by in a limo smokin' cigars and go, what is that sound coming out of that backyard bbq." I was 16 years old. We need to do originals. They were like, "ah no we aren’t ready yet." Well I was in a band playing originals before this and I’m not going to keep doing covers so see ya.

So, I was sitting around at home and joined another band called Sintar. There was a band across town called Vis X. They were a band from across town and they sucked. I had never seen them but they sucked; they were our rivals haha.

So, I get this call from a guy named Mark and he's like, "I’m in a band and heard you aren’t doing anything so I want you to come check out our band." I blew him off for like 6 months. Every time he would call I’d be like, "no I can’t I’m sick I got the flu". I just knew it wasn’t going to be good but one day I thought this guy just isn’t going to stop calling. So, I gave in and Mark came over to my parents’ house and when he showed up, I opened up the door and there is this big tall freaky looking guy wearing satin pants and his hair was all wild and curly and just a weird looking dude and I thought, oh here we go. I got to the rehearsal space and it was worse than I thought. The drummer was fat, the bass player had a mustache and you have to understand in 1978 if you had facial hair you were in three dog night haha you know what I mean, it wasn’t cool and the bass player had his girlfriend there and she was one of those types... {in his best female voice} "you spend too much time with the band". I sang a bunch of cover songs, basically the same songs my old band was doing and they were like, "oh man, you're great" and I was like, "thanks but I’m looking for something else. I want to do originals". I was ready to leave and Mark was like, "hey man come here".

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So, let’s get this straight Mark knows you’re not feeling it with his band and he’s like, "hey man let me talk to you..."

Jack Russell: Yeah so, I went in this other room and Mark started playing and singing a few different songs and I was like, "ah man who is that," and Mark was like, "me, they are my songs". I was like, "I tell you what quit this band I’ll quit mine and we will start our own band right now." He was like, "ok." So, he quit on the spot.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: How did you break it to your guys?

Jack Russell:  We got in Marks car and drove back to the place my band was rehearsing and I walked in and was like, "hey man I’m leaving I got something else going on." They were all pissed. We loaded up the PA on top of Marks green station wagon and that’s how it started. {Laughs}

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So, when did it all take shape?

Jack Russell: We went through a bunch of different lineup changes and in 1982 we put out a 5-song EP on our own label and we sold 20,000 copies on our own in LA and we had every label in town wanting us. It was like a bidding war. It was amazing. Of course our upper crust English manager ended up taking us to EMI America. I had never heard of these guys, but now of course wow but I was like Columbia, CBS that was who I wanted. But he was like, {in his best English accent} "oh no no you don’t want to go there guy"...I was like, "yes I do"...

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So, you got the Priest Tour, right?

Jack Russell: Yeah, we were on the road with Judas Priest on the biggest tour of the year and we were playing sold out shows everywhere. I walked across the street in San Diego, I walked across the street from the hotel to a record store and I was like where is the Great White album and the guy was like, "who?". I was like, "Great White--the band that is opening up for Judas Priest at the arena tonight, I’m the singer". He was like, "oh I never heard of you". I was like, "what?" I called our manager and he was like, "oh I’ll find out what’s going on here". It turned out the head of A&R, Gary Gersh, wanted to sabotage us to get the Presidents job. So, we ended up selling 100 thousand copies instead of a million like all the other bands did. Well we ended up leaving the label and sure enough the President was fired and Gary got the job. So there we were back to square one.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Fascinating, what happened next?

Jack Russell: So we put our own record out again and we got picked up by Capitol, which oddly enough was EMI's sister label. That’s when we had the Once Bitten album come out and that was the start of our big success.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Lets back up a bit. I did some research, I’m very familiar with Great White, I have always loved the band just to be a fan for a second, {Jack interrupts, "me too", we both laugh} but you find weird things when you google anything or anybody so one of the things I found.

Jack Russell: Yeah, you find a lot of BS to but go ahead.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Yeah that’s what I wanted to ask you about. There was this one thing I don’t know, wiki, whatever it is—Wikipedia.

Jack Russell: Oh Wikipedia, yeah you know the thing about them is I don’t know if you know this but you can go on there and change things and if nobody contests it then it goes down in history. Now I read it a while ago and I was like what. It had all been changed, Mark started the band Mark came up with this and Mark Mark Mark Mark Mark it sounded like a hair lipped dog barking hahaha and so go ahead I wonder if this is what you’re talking about.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: It might be. This one went into detail. It said you disappeared for 18 months for shooting a maid. Is that true?

Jack Russell: Oh yeah I did shoot a maid.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: (So at this point I’m floored......I thought to myself, everything that has been written about Great White is about to be put to the test right here.)

Jack Russell: This was back, I just turned 18, and I was really into coke. I didn’t have any money. I ripped off anyone I could by conning them. I would get Visine and put it in a dropper bottle and tell people it was L25, you know liquid LSD...and the thing about Visine back in those days it was just like LSD it would glow under a black light. And I was like, "see it’s the real deal" and they were like, "yeah"...eventually people started getting wise because they weren’t getting high you know...

I remember living with my bass player up in Glendora and I came home and one of the other roommates was like, "you got to get out of here" and I’m like, "why" and he’s like, "there were a couple of guys with guns that came here looking for you." I’m like ok time for me to exit stage right. So, I headed back to my mom and dad’s house. This friend of mine came over-the guy that introduced me to mark actually-and said, "dude I know this guy, he’s got a ton of cocaine and you could go in there and rip him off easy" and I’m like, "ok" and he had this other guy ready to go. So, I borrowed a gun from this friend of mine and we went over there and we came in the house with ski masks and were like give us your fucking coke or we'll blow your head off. I had a knife and the other guy had the gun. I will never forget this guy was like not again. I wanted to laugh so bad...haha you know...poor fuckin guy ya know, we took all the coke and took off running across the lawn there were people out across the street they had kids ya know and they were screaming cause two guys were running down the street with a bag of blow and a gun and a knife. We dive in the car and take off. I was like wow this is a no brainer--easy way to score drugs and get paid.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: (I wanted to ask so many questions at this point but he was on a roll and I couldn’t tear myself away. I felt like Zander Kelly {Dennis Miller} interviewing Joe Dirt {David Spade}.)

Jack Russell: (Continues) I got some Intel on another guy that I use to go to school with and the deal was he had a bunch of blow. So me and a friend of mine were planning on going there and doing the same thing. So I borrowed the gun again and it was a 22 revolver. We kept it loaded when we did this only because when you point a revolver at someone you can see if it’s loaded or not. So that is the only reason I had it loaded.

So, we went to this guy’s house. I smoked some PCP before I went in the house which was not a very good idea. I walked into the house and I blacked out. So, what I am about to tell you now is what I know from the court transcripts. Because I have no recollection till I woke up. I’ll get to that. Apparently, I walked in the house, I remember this part, I walked in the house and I remember looking outside. There was a big glass door from the front door you could see out into the back yard there was a pool and there was a maid out there and she was watering the plants. So, after this I don’t really remember it gets kind of sketchy. So they said I walked out and asked the maid where’s the coke. She thought I was a friend of the guys playing a joke on her {in his best Vietnamese voice} she goes, "no coke just Pepsi, go to refrigerator and help yourself". She was a Vietnamese lady and when I read that I had to laugh cause at the time it was the Saturday Night Live thing {does his best Saturday Night Live impression} "No coke Pepsi Pepsi cheap cheap no cheeseburger hamburger only." (Both laugh.)

So I’m asking the maid where the cocaine is. So, she starts squirting me with the hose and starts wrestling with me for whatever reason I don't know. The gun went off and hit the concrete and ricocheted you know and the father was down the hill with the horses and he said he looked up and saw this guy with a ski mask and a gun kind of like standing up wrestling with the maid.

He said he went up the hill and grabbed his briefcase full of money and locked himself in the bathroom.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So what happened next? You’re out of your mind on PCP wrestling with a maid and shooting a gun.

Jack Russell:  Yeah what happened next, I guess was we went in the house because she ran away and somehow got in the bathroom with him. They said I was bashing on the door and said I put huge cracks in this solid oak door. Next thing they said I shot through the door, the bullet went through the door, hit a St Christopher medallion by her heart and went into her shoulder saving her life and mine.

I wake up on my knees looking at a door with the gun between my legs and I’m like what the hell, where am I? I had no clue. Next thing I hear is {does an impression of a cop speaking through a megaphone} "you're surrounded by the swat team", I hear a helicopter and I’m like that’s right I’m here to rob dope. I know I’ll unload the gun and it won’t be that big of a deal. I mean it was still a big deal it just wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Even though I was unloading a gun and stuffing the bullets down the side of the water bed I was still wasted and I didn’t realize I had shot two rounds. 

I walked outside and I threw the gun on the ground and they all tackled me and were punching me and shit and they were like, "what did you shoot her for" and I’m like, "what, what are you talking about?". They told me I shot somebody and I heard my dad’s voice say "one of these days you’re going to get all hopped up on that stuff and you’re going to shoot somebody." I use to be like, "what are you talking about Dad I don’t even have a gun how would I ever shoot somebody, that’s ridiculous". I’m like oh my God I shot somebody. I went to court after all this stuff and they gave me 8 years. I’m like oh my God I’m done, my career is over, everything is over. Of course, I was like my God I hurt somebody I shot somebody, but on the other side of it that’s what you get. I was just happy she was alive because I felt bad enough shooting somebody but it was weird because I don't remember doing it.

I passed out in the court room and I woke up in the back of the courtroom. I remember being in the holding cell and waiting to go and my attorney said, "what happened?" I said, "I can't believe I got 8 years". He was like, "don't worry about that, you won’t be doing 8 years. You’re going to Y.A." I go, "what you mean?". He said, "you’re going to CYA--California Youth Authority. That’s the step between juvenile hall and Prison". He said, "they’re sentencing you when you get there. They factor in all these things and resentence you".

So, I do my psych eval and I went in front of a board--they have two boards. A regular board for lessor crimes with two people on it and full board with four people on it with more intense crimes. So, I get to the regular board, there are two guys sitting there and prior to this I hear about a drug rehab program. You could go in there for 18 months, it’s a wack job program, they shave your head, it’s just crazy but they can cut your time in half so I really wanted to get into the program. I’m going I want to get into this program.

I get up in front of the board and we talk and questions get asked and answered and they say well 3 years. I’m like wow I have to do a year and a half before I’m even eligible to go to the rehab place.

But then the guy says, "hold on you're a full-blown case, we can’t sentence you. We are a regular board. You’re going to have to be sentenced when you go up north. Which by the way is where the drug program is". I’m like cool I got another shot at this. On the morning of my 19th birthday the 16th at 6AM they said, "ok we are shipping you to Preston now". So somehow, they had the paper work wrong and they had me as a flight risk so here I am on my birthday with my legs and hands shackled and they give me a sack lunch, now have you ever tried to eat with your hands shackled? Not that I didn’t' deserve it but you get my point.

So, they put me in a lodge with all the mediocre criminals you know guys that aren’t the worst but still bad enough. I was worried about catching additional time because there were riots and people getting stabbed and guys saying, "you better go over and punch that dude or we are going to stab you" and then they add time to your sentence. So, I was like I need to get out of here or I’m going to end up catching time. So I go before the board and they are like 21 months. I mean that’s awesome. But I mean that gives me 3 months before I can even go to this drug program. I don't want to catch time. The drug program guys say, "yeah we will take you when you have 18 months." So, I’m like wow this is a miracle. The next day they come up and they say we made a decision that in the first time in history we are going take you down with 21 months and you'll be out in 11. I mean talk about divine intervention. This is like the miracle of miracles, I was thanking God... It’s just a story of divine intervention. I mean I knew at 6 years old I was going to be a rockstar. It was a totally spiritual experience, it was laid out for me in very vivid detail that I was going to be a successful musician. So anyway, I got out in 11 months and got back with the band and like a year and a half two years later I signed my first record deal. So that’s where that came from, it’s definitely a fact.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Let’s talk about the music. You have had some great success with that; you had two different versions of LA Guns, two different versions of so many bands. Why two different versions of Great White, is there a chance you guys will ever bury the hatchet and get back together?

Jack Russell: NO....IF THE HATCHET EVER GETS BURIED IT WILL BE IN SOMEONES HEAD. Hahahah. I’m kidding, honestly no, it will never happen. And I’m a never say never kind of guy. There is so much animosity on both sides that there are some bells you can’t unwring. I went down to Jani Lanes memorial at the Key Club in Hollywood and my manager at the time kept telling me, "it’s your band, don't worry, when you get back if they don’t want you back we will fire them." I’m like yeah, it’s my band. So, I was at the memorial my band was playing and I was supposed to go up and sing a song with them and apparently the band didn’t even know about it till that night. I got there and Mark had a panic attack and went to the hospital before the show and they brought him back. Nobody would talk to me. But a friend of mine was in the dressing room and I guess Michael Lardie said, "man why won’t that guy just die already." When I heard that I was like really, how could a guy say that after you have been friends with them for over 20 years?

I mean I went into a coma for five days and the doctor told my wife to get my affairs in order as I probably wasn’t going to make it. These guys didn’t even call to say, "hey we don't want to play with you anymore but I hope you’re ok". I mean I’ve known Mark since I was 17. You would think at least I’d get a phone call. But no. But still I’m hanging on you know well maybe someday they will call me. But one day I just said that’s enough. This is silly. They don't want you back in the band and they are just too scared to call me or whatever like, "hey man we don't think you’re going to get sober we don’t trust you and we don’t want to play with you." They wouldn't return my calls or anything and there was no communication at all. So, I would be like ok what about the name. So, I finally got sick of it, I sent them an email on Dec 11th, 2011 basically told them that they are all fired and I’m starting a new band and the next day I put it up on the internet and all hell broke loose. I ended up suing them. We went to court and basically my idea was let’s split the name and we can all make a living. No, they said, "we are Great White, we want the name". They didn’t want to do that, they just kept saying, "we own the name etc.". Funny thing is there was one corporation that was just owned by Mark and I and the rest of the guys were just 1099 employees. They thought because there was more of them they owned the name. I’m like no I’m the only one that has been in the band the whole time. I fired you, I fired you, and you're out of the band. So, it was down to, do you want to spend hundreds of thousands in court and someone is going to lose it and never have a career or?

 So, then they came back and said, "we will be Great White and you can be Jack Russell’s Great White". I’m like, isn’t that what I tried to do in the first place. So that’s how it worked out; that’s what we agreed upon. It’s still every time we hear something history has been changed. I try to take the high road, I do you know. This is the most I’ve said about it in a long time, mostly because I don't want to air dirty laundry you know really and it’s all been talked about before and it’s kind of like beating a dead horse. I wish them the best of luck, I really do. I mean they are doing ok, I’m doing ok, everybody has a career and we are all making money. So, hey I have nothing against them, they did what they had to do. The only thing I have ever been upset about is that nobody had the nuts to call me and say, "hey we don't want to play with you anymore". That’s my only gripe. Everything else I don’t care, all the stuff that has been said about me-who cares it’s not that important. I will always have love for Mark Kendall no matter what he says or does you know, it’s like how can I not. I’ve known the guy for most of my, life. We've seen the world together, we had a Grammy nomination; we have had so many wonderful experiences together. We sold millions of records. We have done amazing things. You know things that people have only dreamed about including myself.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So how about the band you’re in now. What’s it like?

Jack Russell: I’m really happy right now with the band I’m in. I have surrounded myself with very loving people in this band, great musicians. We work together really really well. There is no 30 years of 'oh that guy always farts or I hate the way that guy always chews or' you know you spend 30 years together things start to wear on you. I mean it goes both ways I know I’m not the easiest guy to live with and when you’re on the road nine months of the time or more you know every little thing can become 'oh I want to kill them'. There is none of that yet. Probably have another twenty years before that happens and I probably won’t be doing this then.

Ted Hollywood Heckman:  So what is Jack Russell most proud of? What is your most stand out moment?

Jack Russell: We played Irvin Meadows, an outdoor 18 thousand seat amphitheater. We played there at this one point. We were headling and it was sold out. I had brought my parents to the show in a limo with my son and I remember my dad standing like on the stage but back behind so he could watch the show real close. I remember he had his Great White shirt on, his arms crossed and he was real proud-he was just beaming. It was vindication for him from all his friends and coworkers when he would tell them my son is going to be a rockstar and they are all like no way your son is a freakin' drug addict he isn't going to be anything. He was like, "oh yeah. He’s going to be a rockstar", he was always defending me.

He was the kind of dad that would call up the radio station and say, "hey this is John from Gardenia and I’d like to hear some Great White". Then he would call a few mins later and be like, "yeah this is Bill from Carson and I want to hear some Great White," and they could tell it was the same guy you know what I mean. (Both laugh.)

Just looking back and seeing him and seeing the light in his eyes and that big smile on his face was just like the best moment for me it was like I made my dad really proud.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: (At this point in time Jack began to weep. So we paused the interview. We took a moment to reflect on his life and how spectacular that moment was between a father and son. Jack spoke about how this was the best moment in his life and that it could never and would never be topped. He apologized for breaking down. I assured him that not only I, but each and every one of you reading this could relate to the bond between father and son. At some point in time we have all felt like we had let our fathers down, only to later find out they were extremely proud of us.)

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So what was it like to be nominated for a Grammy?

Jack Russell: I remember when this guy came up to me and was like, "hey you were just nominated for a Grammy. How do you feel?" And I was like, " what’s a Grammy?" The look on his face was like someone had shoved something up his butt. Hahahah I said, "I know what a Grammy is I was only joking haha". I have been really blessed I have a family of fans that have been really loyal and come out to watch us play. I don't have many complaints.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: What song {I already know it will be a Zeppelin song} do you wish you would have written?

Jack Russell:  Stairway to heaven. Well you know there are a lot of songs. I mean I could name 50 Aerosmith songs. I mean I've always switched between Zepplin and Aerosmith. I would sneak out of my room and go down to where the stereo was and put the headphones on and play toys in the attic. I would sit there listening and pretending I was talking to Steven Tyler on the phone and that we were buddies. Then one day I was on the phone with Steven Tyler and I flashed back to that time and I was like oh my God I’m talking to Steven Tyler and I’m actually friends with Steven Tyler. But yeah Stairway to Heaven there is no chorus it’s all hook you know, there is no chorus. It breaks all the rules. Just like Once Bitten, I never thought that song would be a hit. I mean I would have bet my left arm on it. It takes 45 seconds to get to the first chorus I mean come on.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: What can your fans expect to see differently now than they saw twenty years ago?

Jack Russell: It took me five years to get the guys I have now. I was really going for trying to make the best band I could and that’s no disrespect to my past band. But the musicians I have in this band are some of the best in the world. There is certain chemistry to this band. Live, there is a lot of high velocity and we all look like we are the first guys to step foot on the sun. Hahahah and that’s infectious. If you want to have a great time and see an awesome show come see us. You will go out with a smile. If not were going to kick the shit out of you till you do smile.. You’re going to smile bastard hahahahah

Ted Hollywood Heckman: How’s the voice holding up?

Jack Russell: I mean this with all humility I’ve been blessed and my voice is still as good as it was. Actually it’s better because I’m a better singer than I was at 25.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Kip Winger has a song named "17" and he’s up there in age like you and I

(Jack interrupts singing) .... She’s only half your age hahahahah {we both laugh}.

I know he kind of feels weird singing that now days 

Jack continues Think about Alice Cooper I'm 18 and now I'm 70

Ted Hollywood Heckman: So what’s that one song for you? ....

Jack Russell:  "Down on Your Knees" the lyrics are really 1982. You can say... they were just writing about chicks and getting laid. My lyrics over time have gradually become more refined. I try to be more and more transparent. It’s important to me that my audience knows who I am. I'm just a regular guy like everyone else. I don't understand people that are in the business and are like, "this guy just asked for your autograph and you said no". I don’t get it.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: How do you feel about bands that are actually charging to meet them? I mean back in the day it was rough to get back stage. I mean you use to have to blow or know somebody to get backstage. Now you can pay a certain amount of money to get back stage and meet the band and I think that really takes away from the experience.

Jack Russell: We don't do any of that. That really pisses me off. I mean they buy your record they come to your shows they buy your merch and you’re going to charge them for a handshake. I mean I know the music industry has changed but that doesn’t mean stick it to the fans.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: How many records, I mean I think in 1999 you were on your 13th record how many do you have now?

Jack Russell: Well with me I'm on my first record. Jack Russell's Great White hahahah so you know. As far as Great White I think with me in the band we had 12 studio albums before we split up or whatever you want to call it. Not counting all the live and greatest hits. I mean our set now is like 2 hours long. I mean we have such a huge library to choose from. I am actually stoked I just the other day got a gold record for our greatest hits album, I mean how many years later hahaha.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: What are we going to see live when you’re with Warrant at the Hard Rock Rocksino here in Ohio

Jack Russell:  All I can say is buckle up man it’s going to be a helluva ride. Live, it’s everything you want from a band, we don't stare at our shoes. Visually it’s really impactful and musically it’s impactful. We have changed it from last year we have added a lot of songs. Warrant what can I say. Great bunch of guys, I love them all. I miss my friend Jani though. I went on his Myspace page years ago and someone told me to look at the pictures and there was one of him and I and it just said 'the boys'. I broke down crying. When I was in a coma he subbed for me, you know that right, and as homage to me he didn't sing my songs like Jani, he sang them the way I did...He was just a great writer and musician and great guy. He just had a disease like I do...

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Well the road does that to ya. I mean I was Marq Toriens {Bulletboys} tour manager and

Jack Russell: That guys a nut ball man hahaha he’s a total kook man I have known him for so long {doing an impression of Marq} "hey bro hey bro", he’s crazy man.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: hahahaha I mean I lost so much weight when I was on tour because we never ate. We always had to be at the next gig or radio show or meet n greet or trying to sleep and everyone wanted to do shots with you after the show so it was nothing but drinking...people thought it was cool to do shots with you. So, I get how all that plays into it. Me and the guys in the band, not Marq, but the rest of the guys we would just drink.

Jack Russell: I was different than that I never partied on the road I never wanted my voice to be bad two weeks before the show I would quit drinking quit smoking and I never partied on the road I didn't want my voice to suffer. But last day of the tour I had a bag of blow and a lit cigarette and on to record the next record. After the fire I got really really bad the spiral happened really really quickly. Everything I never did I was doing. People were like that guy is never going to come back, you know and I'm just happy I’m alive at this point.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: I’m looking forward to seeing you guys play really I am.

Jack Russell: I promise you that you’re going to love this band. I mean you can tell me if I’m full of shit though haha.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Well we {my wife and I} haven't done anything in a while because we just had a baby a while ago and so you’re going to be our first concert in about a year.

Jack Russell: Oh, that’s awesome man congrats, yeah come out and say hello looking forward to seeing your reaction to this band.

Ted Hollywood Heckman: Thank you for taking the time out of your day to do this interview man I appreciate it.

Jack Russell: no man thank you for letting me blab on and on about my favorite subject.... me.... (both laugh.)

See you guys at the Hard Rock Rocksino March 23rd with our good friends Warrant God bless ya.

1 Comment

  1. […] Former Great White lead vocalist Jack Russell recently did an in-depth interview with Ted “Hollywood” Heckman for Thunder Roads Ohio. […]

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