Great White have responded following outcry over a Dickinson, North Dakota show they played without any social distancing measures. "We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time," they write. "We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota's government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws." Read their full statement below:
GREAT WHITE would like to address our Thursday, July 9, at First On First Dickinson Summer Nights concert in North Dakota.
We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time. We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota's government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws.
We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.
The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and assured us of the safety precautions.
Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town.
We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community.
We are far from perfect.
As Blabbermouth points out, April Getz, an event coordinator at Odd Fellows, who organizes the First on First Dickinson Summer Nights series, told The Dickinson Press, "We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don't have any. It's one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that's their personal choice. We're leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend." The series is scheduled to run on Thursdays through September 1, and you can see videos from Great White's July 9 set, where no social distancing or mask wearing can be seen, below.
Jack Russell, Great White's former (and original) vocalist, who currently leads his own version of the band, Jack Russell's Great White, distanced himself from Great White and the show in a video he posted on YouTube. On it, he says, "I heard a nasty rumor going around that we played in North Dakota on Thursday night. Let me just tell you one thing: We haven't played under the name Great White in almost 11 years. This is Jack Russell of Jack Russell's Great White. If it doesn't say Jack Russell's Great White, it's not me or my band."
"I just want it to be known that we take this COVID thing very, very seriously," he continues, "and everybody should be wearing a mask and people should be social distancing. And if you're not doing that, you're not doing your part. So, take it to task and wear a mask."
The incident has reminded many of the tragic fire at Great White's 2003 show at Rhode Island's Station nightclub, started by the band's pyrotechnics, that claimed the life of 100 people, including their guitarist, Ty Longley. The band's manager at the time, Daniel Michael Biechele pled guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.