GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall says that he holds no ill will toward the band's original lead singer, Jack Russell.
Russell exited GREAT WHITE in December 2011 after he was unable to tour with the group due a series of injuries, including a perforated bowel and a shattered pelvis. Jack largely blamed these injuries on his alcohol and painkiller addictions as well as the prednisone drug he was prescribed.
Speaking about his current relationship with his onetime friend, Kendall told 80's Glam Metalcast (hear audio below): "I haven't spoken to him in a long time. I guess he's out there trying to do it [with his own band]. I know he has [had] to cancel shows and stuff like that.
"The situation was never, like, 'I hate you,' or some big fight or anything like that," he continued. "It all had to do with substance abuse and him not taking care of himself and [him being] unable to perform. So we just told him to go get well, and then, after a year, he came at us with a lawsuit. He wanted the name and just to hire people to play with him. So we were forced to defend ourselves. But there's definitely no ill will. And besides that, I never take anybody's addictions personal. I work with a lot of people with addiction problems daily, and that's one thing — I never take it personal, because I know it's a difficult thing to get away from."
He added: "It's a sad situation… It's really unfortunate. We went as long as we could until literally… He had walkers and colostomy bags… It was just a horrible situation. We're all healthy and sober, and it's very difficult when you're in that situation. And we still have the energy to play music. It started out just getting somebody to fill in. We even had Jani Lane [WARRANT] in the band for, like, 10 shows. And then [Jack] just couldn't return. And now he's out there. He's kind of struggling, but I guess he's able to play, and God bless him."
Russell sued his onetime bandmates in 2012 over their continued use of the GREAT WHITE name after Jack had taken a leave of absence from the band for medical reasons. A short time later, Russell was countersued by Kendall, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Michael Lardie and drummer Audie Desbrow, claiming the vocalist's self-destructive behavior was damaging the GREAT WHITE name (they also alleged he was charging promoters less for his own touring version of GREAT WHITE). The parties settled in July 2013 without going to trial, with Russell now performing as JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE while the others are continuing as GREAT WHITE.
Less than two years ago, GREAT WHITE announced the addition of new singer Mitch Malloy to the group's ranks. He replaced Terry Ilous, who was fired from the band in July 2018.
The Ilous-led GREAT WHITE released two albums, 2012's "Elation" and 2017's "Full Circle", before Terry was shown the door.
Last July, Russell told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation" that he will "always love Mark. Me and Mark started this together, and we have had some of the most amazing moments of our lives together," he explained. "We accomplished things that people rarely accomplish. And we set out to accomplish what we set out to do. There were a lot of moments that we shared that are priceless. And that will always resonate in my soul. I'll always have a love for him, no matter what goes down. And yeah, I miss him — I miss him in my life. We were really close.
"For me, I'm over all the… whatever," he continued. "I'm not upset or mad or anything else. I take my part of it — I own that. And yeah, I miss him. I miss Mark. I always will. I wish that we could be friends, at least on a social level. At least to be able to call him and go, 'Hey, how're you doing, man? How's the band? How's the family?'"
In 2018, Desbrow told ListenIowa that there was never any discussion about possibly bringing Jack back after Terry's exit from GREAT WHITE. "Not at all," he said. "We've already moved on from that. We've gone through a lot of stuff with that over the years, and the fact that he sued us in federal court for the name, and we spent a lot of time and money, you just don't return from that. People tell me that they've seen his latest shows, and it's just hard to look at because his health isn't as good as it could be. We've got a really grueling schedule, and it's hard enough for me, and I'm semi-healthy. [Laughs] I couldn't imagine someone in his condition doing what we're doing. We did shows with him toward the end, and he was in and out of a wheelchair and crutches, had to be carried up stairs, was falling asleep onstage. It just got old. It's a business, and we have families to support and mortgages to pay. You can't go to work messed up 24/7 and still be able to work there."