Great White Forced To Revamp Benefit Tour Due To Insurance Snafu

By | July 1, 2003 at 12:00 AM

A U.S. tour by ’80s metal bands Great White, L.A. Guns and XYZ aimed at raising funds for the families of victims of the Rhode Island nightclub fire has been called off due to an inability to secure insurance.

The 55-city tour was to raise money for the Station Family Fund, a nonprofit organization set up to assist the families and survivors of the February fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, which claimed the lives of 100 victims when a Great White pyrotechnics display went awry and set the club ablaze.

The tour was to launch in early June, but fell apart after insurers were reluctant to issue a blanket policy for Great White and its two opening acts, according to Great White’s manager Charrie Foglio. “We had massive insurance problems,” said Foglio, who took over management of the group just one month after the fire. “The insurers were not worried about covering the risk, but about people being upset at shows and possibly doing something [disruptive].”

Instead, Foglio said Great White will go out on their own and do a series of 41 “weekend warrior” concerts, in which they will play a mix of clubs and large festivals every Thursday through Sunday from July until October. The tour, dubbed Help Us – Help Our Own, begins on July 22 in Sterling, Colorado, and will include an August 7 appearance at the 63rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. So far, 10 other dates have been confirmed, with more to be announced shortly. No venues have been announced yet.

“They’re going to be playing shows that already have blanket coverage so they don’t have to worry about it,” Foglio said. Most of the shows will take place in 300-500 capacity clubs and Foglio estimated that the tour should be able to raise between $5,000 and $15,000 per week for the foundation. In addition, she said several promoters have agreed to donate up to one dollar per ticket to the fund and the band has asked fire departments in all the cities it is playing to pass around a boot outside the club’s doors before the show to raise additional money.

For the first month of dates, 18-year-old rookie Jordan Martin will replace former guitarist Ty Longley, who perished in the fire. Original guitarist Michael Lardie will rejoin the band in September for the remainder of the dates.

The band’s lawyer Ed McPherson said the tour will not include any pyrotechnics. “Never again,” he said. Terry Ilous, singer of XYZ, found out about the cancellation on Sunday. “We are really disappointed because this was a really good thing,” he said. “Ty was a friend of the community and we are ready to do anything to help out. I think it would have raised a lot of money.”

Great White singer Jack Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall performed at two Los Angeles clubs in benefits for the son Longley’s girlfriend was carrying when the guitarist died. The emotional events included an acoustic version of the song “Mother’s Eyes” from Great White’s 1994 album, Sail Away. They were the first public performances from the band’s members since the fire.

A number of civil lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the February 20 tragedy, but, so far, Great White have not been included in the two largest ones. They were dropped in a suit filed by a lawyer representing 16 plaintiffs in May because several of the clients were friends of the group. At the time, lawyer Brian Cunha also said the band’s members were not named because it is known that they have few assets. A second attorney representing an additional 50 survivors and family members of victims has also decided not to include Great White as defendants in a separate suit.

Lawyer Ronald J. Rasmini, however, filed a suit in federal court against the group, whose pyrotechnic display lit the club’s soundproofing foam, causing the fire.

None of the bandmembers has been served in any of the four lawsuits filed to date, McPherson said.

Help Us – Help Our Own Tour Dates, According To Great White’s Manager:

  • 7/22 – Sterling, CO
  • 7/23 – Colorado Springs, CO
  • 7/25 – Salt Lake City, UT
  • 7/26 – Denver, CO
  • 7/31 – Omaha, NE
  • 8/1 – Sioux City, IA
  • 8/2 – Jane, MO
  • 8/3 – Clear Lake, IA
  • 8/7 – Sturgis, SD
  • 8/8 – Medina, MN
  • 8/9 – Cedar Rapids, IA
  • 8/10 – Merrionette Park, IL

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