According to the Courthouse News Service, GREAT WHITE's lead singer and founding member Jack Russell has filed a lawsuit against his estranged bandmates claiming that they fired him and stole the group's name while he was recovering from surgery to repair a perforated bowel. Named in the complaint were GREAT WHITE lead guitarist Mark Kendall, drummer Audie Desbrow, guitarist/keyboardist/backing vocalist Michael Lardie and talent agency Bigg Time Entertainment.
The March 22 federal lawsuit — which can be downloaded as a PDF file at this location — states: "In August of 2010, plaintiff was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery for a life threatening condition. While he recuperated from this surgery, other singers filled in for him during [GREAT WHITE's] live performances, however, it was undisputed that plaintiff's absence was temporary, and that he retained his position in the band's lineup and would resume singing with the band upon his recuperation.
"By December of 2011, plaintiff had recuperated sufficiently to be able to once again perform as lead singer. However, defendants, who had apparently decided that they would prefer that band continue without plaintiff, stated that he would not be 'permitted' to return to his band until he agreed to a lengthy set of conditions (including, for example, that he agree to no longer take the pain medications or even the anti-inflammatory medicines that had been prescribed by his treating physicians) that was clearly designed to keep him from returning to the band."
Russell recently enlisted former members of FIREHOUSE, FIGHT and GREAT WHITE to perform with him under the name JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE. That band kicked off its "High Seas" tour on March 3 at Route 46 in Sanford, Florida and is scheduled to headline this summer's "America Rocks Tour" with support from FASTER PUSSYCAT, BULLETBOYS, PRETTY BOY FLOYD and LILLIAN AXE.
According to Jack's complaint: "In an attempt to injure the business reputation of plaintiff and interfere with his band's prospective economic advantage, defendants posted defamatory material about him on their website claiming that he was too infirm to perform as a musician. Defendants also claimed to be the true owners of the 'GREAT WHITE' trademark, and posted threats to litigate against any venue or promoter that booked plaintiff's band. Plaintiff has also been informed by various venues that defendants, by and through their agents, contacted bookers that had employed plaintiff's band and threatened litigation."
Kendall, Desbrow, Lardie, bassist Scott Snyder and singer Terry Ilous recently announced plans to release a new GREAT WHITE studio album, "Elation", via Frontiers Records. Due in May, the 12-song CD will mark GREAT WHITE's first effort with Ilous following the band's split with Russell.
According to Jack's lawsuit, "[The] release of the ['Elation'] album [under the GREAT WHITE name] will irretrievably alter the discography of the band 'GREAT WHITE,' tarnishing and diluting the trademark, reputation, and goodwill that plaintiff has developed over 30 years."
JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE:
GREAT WHITE featuring singer Terry Ilous: