Ex-GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell says that he went to see his former bandmates perform last fall in Texas on a day off during his U.S. tour. The chance encounter took place on November 1, 2018 when GREAT WHITE's current lineup — featuring Mitch Malloy on vocals — was playing a gig at the Proof Rooftop Lounge in Houston, and Jack's band, JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE was on its way to a local hotel to prepare for the next night's "Hair Nation" tour stop at the city's House Of Blues.
"We were driving in, and as we're driving in, I'm hearing this music," Jack said during an appearance earlier today (Thursday, August 1) on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation". "I'm going, 'That's 'Rock Me', but that's not my voice. Where's that coming from?' And then I realized it was coming from the top of this roof of this building. So I tell my [driver], 'Pull over. Pull over. Pull over.' [We were] just randomly driving; we were on our way to the hotel… It was just bizarre. So I [was, like], 'We've gotta go see this.' So we pulled over and went up there. I've got the hoodie on; I'm trying to be Mr. Incognito… We get in. The guy at the gate [recognized me], [and he went], 'Hey, Jack.' I'm trying to be all cool. So I walk along the side. I've got my head down, my hood pulled over. All of a sudden, somebody goes, 'Hey, Jack.' And, oh, man. People started turning around with cameras and stuff… So it turned out to be this really embarrassing semi meet-and-greet, which I didn't want. I just wanted to kind of check 'em out. I remember walking from one side of the gig to the other, trying to avoid people, and I remember looking up, and I saw Michael [Lardie, guitar/keyboards], and he mouthed over to Mark [Kendall, guitar]. He goes, 'It's him. He's here.' And I shrunk. I'm, like, 'Oh, man. I didn't wanna do that.' So we ended up hanging out a little bit, and then we left. And I was hoping they would come out, but they never did."
Asked if he would have joined his bandmates on stage for a song or two if they had asked him to come up and jam, Jack said: "Hell, yeah, I would have. Absolutely."
According to Russell, the experience of watching his former band play was not as unsettling as one might have expected.
"I wanted to see what it looked like, and I wanted to see the guys, to see how they looked," he said. "It was interesting. It was weird seeing a band that I fronted for pretty much my whole life with somebody else singing. It was weird. It wasn't unpleasant. It was just weird."
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.
Asked if he still has a soft spot for Kendall, with whom he formed GREAT WHITE more than four decades ago, Russell said: "To be honest with you, I'll always love Mark. Me and Mark started this together, and we have had some of the most amazing moments of our lives together. 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?'"
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, 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.
Last year, GREAT WHITE announced the addition of new singer 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.