Great White Raise Funds...But Not For Fire Victims

By Newsferatu, Writer
Thursday, January 4, 2007 @ 10:15 AM

Harp Seal Fundraiser

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From BostonHerald.com reporter Dave Wedge:

Aging rockers Great White are kicking off a reunion tour in Los Angeles later this month, but they’ll be raising money to save harp seals in Canada, not to help the hundreds of victims burned when the band’s pyrotechnics sparked a deadly nightclub blaze in Rhode Island three years ago.

“I think if you’re in the band Great White and you’re talking about charitable endeavors, I don’t see how you look past the victims of the Rhode Island fire,” said Steven Minicucci, an attorney who represents dozens of people injured in the 2003 blaze at The Station in West Warwick, R.I.

The ’80s nostalgia act is finishing a new album and embarking on a tour with its original lineup to mark its 25th anniversary. The reunited band’s first show is a Janurary 27th benefit at Hollywood’s Key Club to raise money for Harpseals.org, a nonprofit dedicated to ending Canadian seal hunting, according to the group’s website.

The new tour comes as the Station Family Fund has run dry after handing out $800,000 to victims’ families for housing costs, medical bills and other expenses. Fund president Victoria Potvin, who escaped the blaze, said the account is empty and the fund is “defunct,” leaving some victims helpless.

“There are people who are going to need assistance for the rest of their lives,” Potvin said.

She said Great White has given about $75,000 but hasn’t donated any money since December 2003. Of the new tour, she said: “Great White has no relevance in my life. I don’t care what they do with their time.”

Donald Latulippe of Carver, whose son, Dale, died in the blaze, called the band’s new tour a “pathetic” publicity stunt. “I wish they’d disband,” he said.

James Gahan of Falmouth, whose son Jimmy died in the fire, said he opposes the tour if proceeds are not going to the victims.

“They have given some minor help, but if they ignored the victims, I’d have a problem with that,” Gahan said.

Great White publicists did not return calls, and attempts to reach band members were unsuccessful. In a 2005 interview with The Desert Sun, a California newspaper, Great White vocalist Jack Russell said raising money for the fund was “the only reason” he woke up each day.

“If not for the Station Family Fund, I don’t know if this band would ever tour again,” he said.

Great White toured eight months after the blaze that killed 100 but canceled a Massachusetts gig after complaints from local victims. The band last toured in 2005.

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