HELLION frontwoman Ann Boleyn has come to the defense of GREAT WHITE frontman Jack Russell over the concert tragedy that claimed the lives of 97 people last Thursday in West Warwick, Rhode Island.
The following is Boleyn's official press release/statement regarding the matter:
"This afternoon while driving in my car, I was greatly dismayed to hear the host of a 50,000 watt AM radio station [KFI] call for the arrest of Jack Russell of GREAT WHITE. This host claimed that, as a singer, Jack Russell was the responsible party in the terrible fire which claimed the lives of so many people on Thursday. While I agree that this was a terrible tragedy, I would like to point out that most ANY band on the US club circuit could be in the position of GREAT WHITE. In fact, I am surprised that a fire like this has not happened earlier!
"Like GREAT WHITE, my band HELLION once enjoyed MTV airplay and packed arenas. However, many factors, including the post-911 economy, have forced many acts back into small clubs. Music groups, club owners, promoters, booking agents and record companies have all endured hard economic times in recent years. Combine these economic troubles with the fans' expectations to see an arena-quality stage show, and inconsistent rules regarding pyro displays, and you have a recipe for trouble!
"While union electricians help ensure the safety of events held at major arenas, small clubs are a very different story. When a band travels from town to town, local safety ordinances are often a mystery. THERE ARE NO STANDARDS. What is acceptable in Portland may be illegal in San Antonio. Some venues have year-round 'conditional use permits' for pyrotechnics. Others don't. Occasionally a band may find 'the safety rules' taped on the wall in the dressing room. While safety rules often mention correct ways of lifting boxes or laws regarding serving alcohol — they rarely mention pyrotechnics. [While the club owners may disagree when they are speaking with the media, the 'don't ask-don't tell pyro-policy' has become the norm when it comes to operating pyro in many clubs.]
"It is surprising to me that any of the band members were able to escape the fire on Thursday. More often than not, the stage in small clubs is located on the back wall of the room, far from any exits. The dressing room, likewise, is another 'accident waiting to happen.' The dressing room in many clubs doubles as the storage room for the booze or food and rarely has windows. [For example, if a fire broke out on stage at 'Paladino's' in Reseda, anybody in the 'dressing room' would most likely perish.]
"For these reasons, is grossly unfair to single out Jack Russell as the scapegoat for this tragedy! GREAT WHITE and their road crew were every bit as 'at risk' as any member of the audience Thursday. If the sparks from onstage pyro — the same pyro used repeatedly and with no problem by GREAT WHITE — ignited this building, it is safe to say that a cigarette butt or a broken appliance could have done the same thing! Musical performers are not trained in fire safety. It is not the responsibility of a musician, a singer, or even a promoter to make sure that the walls are covered with flame-retardant paint or that sprinklers are installed in the ceiling! This is why you have safety inspectors! And, if pyro is not allowed, why didn't the club's stage manager say something? [It is not hard to spot pyro when it is being set up.]
"Naturally, I send my heartfelt condolences to the family members of those killed as well as to those injured in this horrific event. However, my heartfelt thoughts also go out to the crew and band members of Jack's band, and especially to Jack Russell himself. Jack has had a rough past and is rapidly becoming the scapegoat of a frenzied media that is disparaging everything from Jack's music to the scarf he was wearing the night of the fire. What the media really needs to focus on, is why any shows were being held in a building that was so unsafe- — and what can be done to prevent something like this in the future!
Lead Singer of the rock group HELLION
Former DJ with KROQ FM
and Owner of New Renaissance Records"