Russell ‘Forced Great White To Mime Shows’
Ex-bandmates fire back in lawsuit stacked with counterclaims after frontman Jack claimed he’d sacked and replaced them all.
Great White’s Mark Kendall, Michael Lardie and Adie Desbrow have filed a counterclaim against frontman Jack Russell, alleging he forced them to mime shows on a European tour because he couldn’t carry out singing duties well enough.
Russell last month served papers against his former colleagues for continuing to use the band name while he was working on a project called Jack Russell’s Great White. Later he said: “That’s not Great White – who are they kidding? I fired them all on December 10.”
The three long-standing musicians hired XYZ singer Terry Illous to carry out a 30th anniversary tour and later decided to start creating new material, following a number of incidents which left Russell too ill to work.
Responding to their ex-singer’s lawsuit, they’ve now filed their own 30-page document, claiming:
• Russell said he was the band’s creative director, but that was actually manager Alan Niven, who wrote some music, most of the lyrics and produced recordings;
• Russell didn’t make significant contributions to the writing process and only got songwriting credits “to maintain harmony within the band”
• His voice had deteriorated so badly by 2000 that he “suggested the band play to pre-recorded music and lip-sync entire concerts”
• His insistence forced Kendall to take a “leave of absence” from the band and the European tour collapsed after three shows when the audience realised no one was playing live
• After sending an email in which he said it was “fine” if the band used the name without him, he tried to register it as a trademark – only to discover Kendall had beaten him to it
• He claimed in an email to have had an affair with Kendall’s wife and that he’d smoked crack with her, and called each band member talentless, before retracting the entire message
The paperwork also says that when the band regrouped in 2007 under manager Obi Steinman and an agreement was put in place that meant if one member was voted out of the band he’d retain royalty rights but would have no claim over the name.
The band continues: “A European tour started on January 25, 2008 and the band was concerned that Russell may be looking for drugs after shows. His performances were substandard, and he appeared to not be sleeping.
“By April 2008, Russell’s personal life began to unravel. His fiancee broke off their engagement. On information and belief, he was told to leave her house because of drug use.
“Russell’s health began to decline rapidly. On information and belief, the years of alcohol and drug use were beginning to take a serious toll, and he escalated his use of opiates and painkillers.
“After a series of embarrassing incidents, Steinman, Kendall, Lardie and Desbrow again decided to limit touring. Russell was furious, because, on information and belief, he needed the money. He begged to go back on the road.
“On July 12, 2009, at a festival in Oklahoma, a physician was called in because Russell was doing poorly and gave him several Vicodin for the following 24 hours. On information and belief, Russell took all of the Vicodin at once and delivered a very substandard performance that hurt the Great White name further.”
According to Blabbermouth, the band believe the singer broke his femur after a stage fall he’d predicted in 2009 as a result of using drugs known to weaken bones. They think he was under the influence of so many drugs he didn’t know the extent of his injuries at the time. His bandmates say they were offended that fans who saw the video of a later fall criticised the band for not helping Russell, not knowing they didn’t want to be on tour with him.
Things came to a head, the lawsuit says, when he was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol following an accident in 2010, meaning he can no longer perform in China, Japan or Canada. When he was diagnosed with a perforated bowel in August that year he became unable to perform since “on information and belief, the years of steroid and drug abuse had mode Russell’s organs thin and vulnerable.”
The band say they entertained several attempts by Russell to return between January 2011 and February 2012, but each time it failed to take place. At one point, after breaking his leg, “he admitted to Steinman he had been drinking and taking Xanax.” Kendall says he later entered into an agreement for Russell to call him every day at 9.30am to prove he was sober – but “those calls lasted only three days.”
Meanwhile, Great White had played over 80 shows with Illous, who “is now the singer for the band and works very well, engages the crowd and is mobile on stage. Russell knew that another singer was playing for over a year and the band continued to bill itself as Great White.”
The band say Russell has stated he intends to prevent the release of Elation, their album recorded with Illous, set for launch on May 18. They finish: “Russell’s current performances are not up to the standard of Great White. His singing is consistently flat and his performances are damaging the Great White mark.”
Their counter lawsuit, filed in a Los Angeles federal court, will receive due process.