Great White to rock Brown Grand Theatre
GREAT WHITE AT THE BROWN GRAND
By Russell Gagnon
The iconic rock band Great White is coming to the Brown Grand Theatre on September 12th.
Great White reached the peak of their popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990's, releasing several multiple-platinum albums and their signature hits 'Once Bitten Twice Shy' which peaked at #5 on the Billboard charts in 1989; 'The Angel Song', 'Call It Rock N' Roll', and 'Save Your Love'.
In an exclusive interview with the Blade-Empire, founding member and lead guitarist of Great White, Mark Kendall, spoke about the band's long career in the wild world of rock-and-roll.
Kendall grew up in Southern California and comes from a musically talented family. "My mother was a jazz singer and my father a jazz trumpeter," he said. "There was always music in the house. I fell in love with melodies."
Kendall's father bought him his first guitar - a Kay acoustic - for his ninth birthday. "The first three songs I learned to play were 'Gloria', 'Wipe-out', and 'Secret Agent Man'," he said with a laugh.
Kendall developed a talent for learning to play songs by ear. When he was 10 years old, his father bought him an electric guitar and amplifier, and three albums by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and The Doors. "Those first three albums were a huge influence in my life," Kendall said. He counts Carlos Santana, Johnny Winter, and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top as major influences in his style of playing guitar.
Kendall formed his first band when he was a teenager. "Of course we were horrible, playing in a garage and having our parents yell at us to turn down the music."
In 1978 Kendall met Jack Russell, who would eventually become Great White's lead singer for most of their hit songs. The band's big break came in 1982 when a record producer saw them perform at The Whiskey in Hollywood. Within a matter of days they signed a contract to record their first album.
36 years later Great White is still going strong, though there have been different incarnations of the band. Former lead singer Jack Russell toured with his version of the band called Jack Russell's Great White, and it was this band that was performing at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, when a fire broke out that tragically claimed the lives of 100 people.
The families of the Rhode Island Station Fire victims have asked Great White to not publicly discuss the tragedy.
Mitch Malloy is now the lead singer of Great White, but three members - Kendall, Michael Lardie, and drummer Audie Desbrow - have been with the band since 1985.
"Between the three of us," Kendall said, "we have over 100 years of experience making music."
Now 62 years old, Kendall still loves what he does. "We just put out a new album in 2017. For me it's all about making new music and being creative. I play every day. Even if I'm watching tv, I still pick at my guitar."
This is not the band's first trip to Kansas. "We've played all over Kansas. Over the years we've left no stone unturned."
Kendall is far removed from those younger years when the band full heartedly embraced the rock-and-roll lifestyle. He now espouses a clean and sober lifestyle.
"To date I have helped 119 people, one-on-one, through the difficulties of drug and alcohol addiction. I offer my sober friendship to anyone in need."
Still based in Southern California, Kendall spends a lot of his free time working with young musicians, and especially enjoys helping them write new music and teaching them about the all-important business side of the music business.
Kendall has toured and performed onstage for most of his adult life, but still feels a surge of adrenaline every time he walks in front of a crowd.
"Right now I still have that teenage energy and enthusiasm. And I still have a kind of nervous anticipation before each show. I say a prayer before each performance."
Kendall says he will never lose his enthusiasm for performing live. "I love that human connection with the audience. You feed off that energy. It's just such a rush."
Great White is looking forward to playing in a venue like the historic Brown Grand. "Believe it or not, I'm actually more nervous in intimate settings. It's a lot different than playing in front of 35,000 people in a stadium, but in many ways it's also so much better. You can be up close and personal with the audience. Sometimes when I'm playing I only feel the music, I don't see or hear anything else. I never notice it on stage. I only realize it after the show is over."
Kendall promises the Brown Grand crowd a typical high energy Great White performance. "We'll play our hits and some new stuff. We always give the fans what they want. We even work in some sing-alongs with the audience."
The Great White performance will be Thursday, September 12, at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available for main floor seating at $30, and $20 for the balcony. Purchase tickets in advance if possible, because ticket prices will increase $10 per seat on the day of the show.
The event is being underwritten by Cloud County Co-op.