Lawyer: GREAT WHITE Singer Is Relieved But Agonizing

December 10, 2003

Laurel J. Sweet of the Boston Herald is reporting that GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell was "relieved" to be spared criminal culpability for the fourth deadliest fire in U.S. history, but remains tormented by his role in rock 'n' roll infamy, his lawyer said.

"Jack is still agonizing over this," attorney Neil Philbin said yesterday after informing the Russell that the grand jury investigating the Feb. 20 disaster at The Station in West Warwick, R.I., had indicted Russell's tour manager, Dan Biechele, and club owners Jeff and Michael Derderian on 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

When he spoke with him yesterday, Philbin said Russell "expressed his sorrow about this entire tragedy." He said Russell, 43, is "devoted" to raising money for the victims' families by continuing to perform with his Grammy-nominated '80s blues-rock band.

Paul Vanner, The Station's sound man, believes Russell, who'd used fireworks before, should have shared the blame.

"Jack definitely had something to do with it," Vanner said. "Dan Biechele can't just go out and OK an expense like pyrotechnics. If GREAT WHITE's footing the bill, Jack Russell is going to know about it.

"What the band did in the past should definitely have a bearing on this."

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