Arts & Entertainment

Great White making its first stop in Tri-Cities

Great White leads the pack of rockers scheduled to appear at this year's Rocktoberfest, which is Oct. 1 at the TRAC in Pasco.

And even though these vintage musicians from the 1970s aren't as young as they used to be, they've still got the brawn of the Energizer bunny.

"We're like sharks who never stop moving," joked Great White's keyboardist Michael Lardie in a telephone interview with the Herald. "So, yeah, I guess we could be called the Energizer bunny of bands."

Though many think of Great White as a hard rock metal band, Lardie says the group is really more of a bluesy rock band.

Besides being the band's keyboardist, Lardie also writes much of Great White's music and is a record producer and sound engineer. He also is a former member of Night Ranger.

"We stay vital by coming up with new music every few years," he said. "I've never liked screaming rock when you can't understand the words. That's because I'm a huge lyric guy, and the words to songs are important to comprehend, and you can't do that if all you hear is screaming."

Lardie is a multifaceted musician who also plays guitar, bass, sitar, mandolin, harmonica and flute. He was born in Alaska but grew up in California.

He remembers loving music since he was five years old, listening to Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, but what drove him to be a musician was seeing the Beatles first album cover.

"I remember that like yesterday," Lardie said. "I was mesmerized, my eyes as big as baseballs. I told my grandmother I was going to be a musician. She just patted me on the head and smiled."

Lardie joined Great White in 1986. At the time, the band included Jack Russell, Mark Kendall, Lorne Black and Gary Holland. Since then, members came and went and creative differences eventually led the band to break up in 2000.

Lardie left to join Night Ranger while a few other members of Great White decided to change the band's name to Fake White and continue touring. Fake White, under the lead of Russell, was performing at a night club in Rhode Island in 2003 when a pyrotechnic stunt on stage ignited a fire that killed about 100 people at the concert, including the band's guitarist.

Though Lardie was not part of the band when the tragedy occurred, he said the current Great White band, which reformed in 2008, stays close to some of the families members of those who died in that fire.

"They still come to our shows and have become good friends," he said.

The Tri-City show will be the first time Great White has performed in Southeastern Washington.

"We've been to Spokane and Seattle, but never your area," Lardie said. "And we always love to bring good music to places we haven't been before.

"Music makes people happy, and we want to keep people that way."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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