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  ONCE BITTEN, TWICE NIGH: WHAT'S LEFT OF GREAT WHITE'S FANBASE BOOSTS ALBUM SALES… KIND OF.  
   
   
 

Crime might pay, but criminal acts of stupidity sure don't.

Sparked by the media coverage surrounding the 99 people that died during Great White's Feb. 20 show in a Rhode Island nightclub, album sales for the band have doubled in recent weeks. Although their days of filling huge arenas in package tours with other flaccid hair bands like Whitesnake and Tesla are long gone, Great White had enjoyed a moderately successful club following over the last decade.

But those days of denim-clad, hairspray rock and revelry over after the band's pyrotechnics started a tragic fire that killed 99 concertgoers, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley. The flames ripped through The Station night club during Great White's opening number, when its pyro set the soundproofed walls ablaze.

 

 
 

Hundreds of Great White fans scrambled for the doors, but as the ceiling caught, the audience was trapped in the inferno. Nearly 200 people were hurt, in addition to the fatalities.

As the Smoking Gun web site reported, the band could be at fault for its role in the tragedy, having never mentioned the use of pyro in its concert rider. Owners of three nightclubs, including The Station, said they had no idea the band planned to use pyro and never would have allowed it in such a small space.

And so the band is mired in legal troubles resulting from the accident. One of the band's remaining guitarists, Mark Kendall, went before a grand jury Wednesday in Rhode Island and is expected to be back in the weeks ahead. The lead singer of the band, Jack Russell, has not testified yet, but may be called. As of right now, the band's legal defense is unclear. (A phone call to the band's Los Angeles attorney, Ed McPherson, was not returned at press time.)

Depending on how the courts sort out band's role in the fire, Great White, the band, would be responsible for more deaths -- 99 -- than Great White, the shark, which has only killed 74 people over the last century.

Those rabid Great White fans that were not burned to death showed their support for the band by doubling Great White's album sales in the week after the attack. Although the band didn't equal the double platinum smash it had with 1989's Twice Shy," featuring the Ian Hunter cover of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", they did see a marked increase in album sales thanks to the tragedy, fueling the media-driven notion that even bad publicity can be profitable.

 

 
 
Source: Nielsen SoundScan
 
 

 

As the chart shows, the band's greatest hits collection tripled its usually paltry sales... of 200 units a week. If weren't facing the death of a band member and the likely end of its rock career after wiping out a huge chunk of its fanbase, Great White would probably be celebrating that fact.

But don't buy any lame stories that the band is raking in the bucks. No one's popping champagne because its latest, "Thank You -- Goodnight," has finally reached the 600 units threshold, just 499,400 short of a certified Gold record.

The recent sales bump won't help with the mounting legal bills the band is destined for, with liabilities estimated in the hundreds of millions if they are found guilty.

All this proves a few things: Bad press is bad press. Killing your own fans makes for big headlines, not big sales increases. And the Reagan Administration had it right all along -- bad 1980s hair metal really *is* hazardous to your health.

 

*BT*