TERRY ILOUS Looks Back On His Exit From GREAT WHITE: 'It Just Was Time To Go Separate Ways'
October 22, 2022
Terry Ilous says that he exited GREAT WHITE after nearly a decade because "it was time to go separate ways."
Ilous, who previously played with '80s L.A. hard rockers XYZ, joined GREAT WHITE in 2010 after replacing touring vocalist Jani Lane (WARRANT).
The Ilous-led GREAT WHITE released two albums, 2012's "Elation" and 2017's "Full Circle", before Terry was shown the door in July 2018 and replaced with Mitch Malloy.
Ilous discussed his departure from GREAT WHITE during a new appearance on the "Talkin' Bout Rock" podcast. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I was in GREAT WHITE for nine years. I had a great time with the band. I think it's important to know I was very grateful to be part of that band. The guys in the band are great people, management, all these people are great people. It just was time to go separate ways, for them and for me. I think they were looking for something else, and I was looking for something else as well… It was a wonderful thing to be a part of this great band. I had an amazing time. I do not regret anything at all, and I'm glad they're doing great. I think they have a great singer now in the band, and I'm really happy for them. And I wish them the very best. I have no animosity whatsoever. I'm doing great. I'm doing what I like to do, which is what I wanna do. However, I will always be [grateful] to the guys in the band, GREAT WHITE… I will always be grateful for that great opportunity. It just was time to move on. I'm happy now."
Last December, Ilous told "The Classic Metal Show" that getting fired from GREAT WHITE "was a good thing because I was able to move on. At first, when somebody dumps you like that, like an old girlfriend, you feel like an old pair of shows. You're, like, 'Really? What did I do? I didn't do anything wrong,'" he said. "Which, honestly, I didn't do anything wrong. I never fucked anybody's wife. I never stole money or anything like it. I'm a songwriter, and I'm a strong personality. And I know what I don't want in life. So, I guess, obviously, it bothered someone in that band and they decided to do what they did. But I had great years with them; I thank 'em so much for the opportunity. I thank the fans. And they did me a huge favor because I was able to move on. I was able to dig inside myself. I was kind of sad at first 'cause I lost money and I didn't know what I did wrong. I said, 'What did I do wrong?' Which I never knew, because I never talked to anybody. I just received an e-mail; it's what I received. They just sent me an e-mail [saying], 'Have a nice day. You're fired.' Long story short.
"I've gotta be honest with you, they did me a huge favor, because I was able to dig inside of me and said, 'Okay, Terry, you can do it. You've been through hell. You can do it again.' So I did it," he continued. "And I released this [LAND OF GYPSIES] album. I have lots of things coming up with XYZ, with JK [Northrup] and I'm doing a voiceover for a new film. I'm doing that, so that's big money.
"You move on. It's like having a girlfriend that dumps you. What are you gonna do? Just think about her every day? No. You're gonna find another girlfriend that's pretty, that's nice and that treats you right.
"The important thing in life is to be treated right and to treat other people right," Terry added. "If you feel like you're lesser, if you feel like you're never the number one, then why would you wanna stay with that person anyway?"
Last November, GREAT WHITE guitarist Mark Kendall confirmed that Ilous was fired from the band via e-mail. Kendall went on to say that Ilous initially found out online that he no longer had a job with GREAT WHITE. "It got released on the Internet before we could tell him," Mark said. "It wasn't our publicist's fault. She released this information. So we hadn't told him yet, and she didn't know that. So he heard the information, and he's going, 'This is a hell of a way to tell [somebody he is out of the band].' And we were just [made out to look like] the bad guys all the way around. And so what do we do now? Go, 'Meet us somewhere, and we'll talk about it.' It was, like, 'He already knows.' So that was a tough situation. We're not bad people. We don't wanna hurt anyone."
Mark also defended GREAT WHITE's decision to part ways with Terry and hire Mitch, saying: "We had to look out for our music and make sure it's delivered the best it can be. We felt like with Mitch we could do it a little bit better. It's not that Terry is not awesome; nothing against him."
In April 2021, Ilous told Waste Some Time With Jason Green that he always made it a point to tell people that his primary focus was GREAT WHITE and not his solo career. "I was doing a lot of interviews, and I always said one thing, I said, 'I am the lead singer of GREAT WHITE. My priority is GREAT WHITE,'" he said. "I always made sure to say that, 'cause sometimes people can misinterpret what you wanna say. So I said, 'No. I am the lead singer of the band GREAT WHITE. My priority is GREAT WHITE. I'll be touring with GREAT WHITE. And if the band is not touring, then I will be doing that on my own. And that's it.' And that is the truth. But apparently someone got upset. I was touring, and eventually one day, I received an e-mail saying, 'Thank you for a great service. You're a great singer. Have a good life.' And that was it."
Terry said that he "had no idea at all" that he was going to be replaced. "Last time [I played with GREAT WHITE], we did a string of sold-out shows," he recalled. "In fact, one of the last shows we did was actually on a Thursday in Wisconsin. We did a summer fest, and there were 10 thousand people [there]. The crowd went crazy — 10 thousand people going nuts. And that day I sang so well. You know, sometimes you sing better than other days — that's the way it is as a singer — but that day I was really good. Not to be pretentious, but I was happy. I was, like, 'Ah, man. Great performance.' Friday and Saturday, we did two other shows — one in Las Vegas. We did a show with SLAUGHTER, and everybody gave me a big hug. 'Hey, brother, see you next week.' That's the last time I talked to anyone in the band. On Monday morning, I get an e-mail… The leader of the band, Mark, sent me the e-mail, but it [was] on behalf of everybody in the band. 'We think that you should be replaced by somebody else. And we wish you the best.' The e-mail was polite. 'Good luck to you. You will have no problem finding another band. Please don't say bad things about us. We will never say bad things about you.' And that was it."
Regarding his initial reaction to the e-mail, Ilous said: "I was surprised — I was a little surprised — because I said, wait a minute, I did three albums. I helped rebuild the brand. I gave my best for nine years. When I joined the band, I was not getting paid very well, and I said, 'I'm gonna do it anyway, because I wanna prove to myself, and I wanna prove to those guys I can do it.' So I did what I could do. I would have loved to get a phone call, at least, or maybe a meeting with the band, and said, 'Hey, it's not working out. Can you work on this? And maybe we'll give you another chance.' 'Okay.' I think it's fair — when you're a dedicated worker, and you do all that stuff, I think it's fair. You need a second chance. But second chance for what? I didn't do anything wrong. It's not like I had sex with any one of their wives. I'm not that type of person."
Terry went on to say that there were some personal differences within GREAT WHITE, but not enough to create a major issue when he and his then-bandmates were living in close proximity to one another on the road.
"For me, I was always in GREAT WHITE," he said. "I would say to myself, 'GREAT WHITE is GREAT WHITE. I love the band. I love the music, and I'm happy to be in the band.' I didn't expect anything. I knew I had an issue with one guy in the band, like a lot of people have issues with the same guy in that band. But I knew that. And I didn't think the guys would decide to say, 'Screw terry, and let's get somebody else.' I didn't expect that at all. I was completely taken by surprise, to say the least. I was beside myself. But I didn't post anything negative. I didn't make stupid comments online; I didn't do anything like it. I said, 'Well, it is what it is. They have somebody else. I don't wish him anything bad,' which I would never do anyway."
Ilous relocated to Hollywood, California from Lyon, France in 1986, forming the metal band XYZ along with friend and bassist Pat Fontaine. Ilous quickly became a favorite on Sunset Strip scene in the late '80s before getting signed to Enigma/Capitol. After selling over 1.5 million records worldwide and touring with artists such as FOREIGNER and ALICE COOPER, Ilous continued to release albums well into the 2000s, along with film, songwriting and television work.
In 2009, Terry was contacted to play a handful of dates with GREAT WHITE, and within a couple of years, the lineup was made official. GREAT WHITE immediately headed out on an extensive year-long tour, followed by a new album, "Elation", in 2012 that was highly praised by the media and fans alike. "Full Circle" arrived five years later.
In May, GREAT WHITE parted ways with Malloy and replaced him with Andrew Freeman (LAST IN LINE). Just four months later, Freeman exited GREAT WHITE and was replaced by Brett Carlisle (ALL OR NOTHING).
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