GREAT WHITE Were Not The First Band To Use Pyrotechnics At Rhode Island Club

David Vaccaro, frontman for the defunct LOVIN' KRY of Boston, told The Associated Press the group played The Station about 20 times between 1997 and 2000 and used fireworks on all but one occasion. An April 2000 Soundcheck magazine story on their shows at The Station mentions the pyrotechnics.

Another former LOVIN' KRY member, Dan Kincaid, said he often saw shows at The Station in addition to playing there, and remembers several other bands using pyrotechnics.

In a videotape of a March 8, 2000, show at The Station that former LOVIN' KRY member Rev Tyler supplied to northern Massachusetts newspaper Eagle-Tribune, white-sparking fireworks can be seen showering Tyler and other members of the LOVIN' KRY band twice during the rock group's set.

"We did it every time, and every time they invited us back," Tyler said. "We did it numerous times. They loved us there.''

After being contacted by The Eagle-Tribune, West Warwick police are seeking a copy of Tyler's videotape for their investigation into the Thursday night fire at the club that killed at least 96.

Friday night, The Eagle-Tribune e-mailed still photographs to the department showing Tyler's band with fireworks going off.

But it is Tyler's video that is most compelling. The images are eerily similar to the footage shot by a Providence TV cameraman inside the club Thursday as GREAT WHITE took to the stage. In that footage, flames burst behind the band, crawl across the ceiling and walls and engulf the club within three minutes.

Tyler contacted The Eagle-Tribune in defense of GREAT WHITE and its lead singer Jack Russell, who contend the band had permission to use the pyrotechnics from club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian.

Through their lawyers, the brothers denied knowing about GREAT WHITE's pyrotechnics displays or giving the band permission to use them Thursday night.

Tyler said the club not only permitted the fiery spectacles, it banked on them to draw crowds.

"When we did (set off the fireworks) they knew we'd get a better show every time ... a lot of tickets sold, a lot of booze sold," he said.

Melissa Warner, a former employee of The Station, told the Reuters news agency that the club used pyrotechnics before without problems. Investigators also found some pyrotechnics stored beneath the stage, believed to be set aside for the band's finale.

Authorities are investigating to determine who was responsible for the illegal pyrotechnics display. They say criminal charges may result.

Tyler said when he played The Station, a trained pyrotechnic worker would set up the explosions, a lengthy process that happened long before performers hit the stage. Tyler said if club managers don't want a band to use pyrotechnics, they have plenty of chances to say no.

"We've been kicked out of places for using them without telling the managers," he said. "If there was a problem with it, they would have shut us off."

Tyler has used pyrotechnics in his shows since the mid 1990s. The showering fireworks, known as "gerbs," were the same type used by GREAT WHITE.

He said he has held his hand over the sparks as they shot out of their cardboard canisters. He said the flames burn cold and he's never been injured.

"They've shot me in the face with that stuff," he said. "I've been shot in the butt. My pant legs caught on fire, and I slapped it out."

(Thanks: The Eagle-Tribune)

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