PART II: THE DECLARATION OF OBI STEINMAN
A source close to the band Great White contacted www.classicrockrevisited.com with actual court documents and emails in the latest motion, filed by the band Great White against ex-singer for the band Jack Russell.
The court papers reveal what the band has had to endure from Russell’s substance abuse, and his tendency to say one thing and do another. Case in point, emails filed with court show that on July 3, 2011, Jack Russell wrote to band manager Obi Steinman and said “I said I would never take out Jack Russell’s Great White that is something I would never do no matter what happens.” Apparently things changed since that time, since in 2012, Russell began touring at “Jack Russell’s Great White” and is now “Great White Featuring Jack Russell.”
That papers show that even as far back as 2007, when the classic lineup reunited, Russell said nobody could leave the band and take the name. Russell wrote “No one member can use the Great White name. If I or any member is to leave the band quit or is fired or do any solo shows for extra cash they can’t use the logo or Jack Russell’s Great White as an example.”
The documents show emails between Russell and band manager Obi Steinman that detail Russell’s substance abuse and state of mind. The court papers also show how Russell lip-synched performances, and needed a colostomy bag after his surgery that was required after he took a fall.
Issues of the Trademark are detailed as well as Mark Kendall’s wife learned Jack was allegedly going to steal the name while Jack was at home living with his mother and Mrs.. Kendall was taking care of his mother. This however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the papers, Russell tried to call Steinman several times on December 9 and didn’t get an answer. He then wrote a long letter detailing the conditions of his return, including “1. No booze. 2. No cigarettes. 3. No Prednisone. 4. Pain medications prescribed by a physician at the correct doses…”
On December 11, Russell wrote a scathing email to the whole band. He told Kendall “you are not the guitar player you think you are” and called him a “miserable excuse for a human being.” He told drummer Audie Desbrow “you have been riding my coattails to long and I am happy to be rid of you. Keep practicing maybe one day you will be mediocre.” To Michael Lardie he wrote “I am sure you will have a long and illustrious career as the leader of Great White, the cover version.
All of this and more are detailed in the court papers in three parts. Part 1: The Introduction, where Great White lay out their claims; Part 2: The Declaration of Obi Steinman; Part 3: The Declaration of Mark Kendall and Park 4: The Jack Russell Letters .
I, OBI STEINMAN, hereby state and declare:
1. I am the manager of Great White, a position I have held since late 2003. 2004. I make this Declaration in Support of Defendants’ and Counterclaimants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. I make this Declaration of my own knowledge, and, if called upon, could and would testify competently hereto. All statements are made based upon personal knowledge, except where stated to be on information and belief.
2. In April of 2003, Great White hired me to assist with the band’s image and rebuild the band’s career following the tragic Rhode Island fire that had occurred in February, 2003. With the help of the board of directors of the Station Family Fund (a non-profit formed for victims and families of the fire) and its founder Victoria Potvin, created the Station Family Fund benefit tour.
3. In the ensuing years, Great White toured the United States trying to rebuild the band’s image and touring base. By 2006, their fee for a performance had more than doubled.
4. In 2006, I began to float the idea of a true reunion of the classic Great White lineup. The band agreed and re-formed with guitarist Kendall, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist/producer Michael Lardie, drummer Audie Desbrow, vocalist Russell and bassist Sean McNabb.
5. Before that reunion, Russell wrote an email to me emphatically stating that Great White were a “band” and that nobody could leave and use the name.
6. The reunited band did not have a written contract. They continued to use the corporation (Shark Touring, Inc.) that Russell and Kendall had set up after the fire, but no trademark rights were transferred into the corporation. Because of prior problems with business dealings, the band wanted everything to be transparent and split equally between the members.
7. Shares of the corporation were not transferred to the new members, but the money was split equally. I understood that Lardie and Desbrow did not want to be owners of the corporation because of the lawsuits following the fire. The fire lawsuits were not completely settled until 2010.
8. Russell had always struggled with drugs and alcohol, but beginning in 2009, his problems began to seriously affect the band’s business and image.
9. In May, 2009, Russell fell in Parker, Arizona. He broke a bone in his leg.
10. Russell began to miss shows. The other members of Great White began to fill in for him.
11. On December 9, 2009, during a performance in Northern California, Russell fell on stage and fractured his hip. He was taken to the hospital.
12. On June 4, 2010, Russell was admitted to The next day, the band played in Antioch, California without him and took a reduction in payment to avoid a breach of contract claim.
13. In a famous video taken in June, 2010 in San Antonio, Russell fell on stage and could not get up without assistance.
14. In August, 2010, after returning on a flight from Rapid City, South Dakota, Russell went to the hospital, where it was discovered that he had a perforated bowel. He needed immediate surgery.
15. As of August 10, 2010, Russell was unable to perform. He would go on to spend the rest of 2010 and the entire year of 2011 trying to get healthy and possibly return to Great White.
16. Terry Ilous of the band XYZ was hired to save dates that were booked. Russell knew of this. He did nine shows, then Great White played a few shows with Jani Lane, the former singer of Warrant, who was a close friend of mine. One other singer filled in for a show in Sweden. Since then, the singer for Great White has been Ilous.
17. After Russell left, several shows were canceled, or the band were forced to take reductions. Attached hereto as Exhibit A is a redacted copy of Exhibit Z to the Bjorgum Declaration (filed under seal) is a true and correct copy of a spreadsheet showing either canceled shows or reductions after Russell’s departure.
18. Russell’s recovery was not swift.
19. Throughout 2011, I was in contact with Russell regarding a possible return. The dates kept changing. Russell’s colostomy bag was removed in April, 2011. The band paid a company called for physical therapy,
20. I was in constant contact with Russell during his absence. The other band members grew tired of him calling them, so I was designated the contact person with Russell.
21. Sometimes I would speak to Russell a dozen times a day. I literally had hundreds of phone calls with him during his absence. I also had phone calls and exchanged text messages with his wife.
22. In July, 2011, I wrote Russell a very long email encouraging him to get healthy and come back to the band. Attached hereto as Exhibit B is a true and correct copy of my July 3, 2011 email exchange with Russell, identified as Exhibit 124 at the Russell deposition. Russell wrote back that he would not use the name “Jack Russell’s Great White.”
23. In my dealings with Great White, I have seen the band stick by Russell as long as possible. Mark Kendall and his family helped Russell at every turn. Michael Lardie tried to keep Russell’s spirits up. Everyone wanted Russell to succeed, but we knew he had to want it as well.
24. In all of our conversations, Russell never expressed anything regarding his purported ownership of the GREAT WHITE trademark. He never asked about the quality of the performances in his absence. He never asked for licensing or other revenue derived from use of the mark. All he cared about was whether the band was going to let him back in. He never mentioned that he would (or could) fire the band. He was well aware of the band’s contractual commitments for shows and a live record, but he never asked me about these things and assumed no responsibility for them.
26. During meetings in September and October, February, 2012 was picked as the possible return date for Russell.
27. During this time, the band was not ignoring Russell. They were keeping up on his progress through me, the booking agent and sometimes through Russell’s periodic calls to Kendall’s wife.
28. His sobriety and physical health were concerns. His email correspondence raised some concerns, since he had admitted to slipping from sobriety.
29. On December 9, 2011, I was with my sons at a family event, and I had turned my phone off. Russell called me nine times that day. I also received text messages from his wife stating that he was extremely upset and asking that I call.
30. The next day, I received a letter from Russell to the band. A true and correct copy of the December 10, 2011 letter from Russell to me is attached hereto as Exhibit C.
31. Russell called me that weekend, but he did not leave the band. He sounded contrite and somewhat desperate.
32. On December 11, 2011, Russell announced on Facebook that he was leaving Great White and starting another band. Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of Russell’s Facebook announcement. Also on that day, the band received a very disturbing email from Russell regarding each of the band members and alluding to an Attached hereto as Exhibit E is a redacted copy of that email. (I understand an unredacted version is being filed with the Bjorgum Declaration.)
33. Later, I learned that Kendall and his wife had filed a trademark application for “Great White.” This was not something that I authorized or that was planned to “steal” the name from Russell. Russell never called to discuss this application after it was filed. He just filed this lawsuit.
34. After announcing that he was leaving the band, Russell spoke with me personally and offered me $25,000 in future income to manage his career. I declined. Personally, I felt that Russell had crossed a moral line when he sent the email insulting each of the band members. I would not be associated with him in the future.
35. On May 18, 2012, Great White released a new album, “Elation,” that has sold better than the last Great White album with Russell.
36. Since this case was filed, we have been policing Russell’s use of “Jack Russell’s Great White.” We have sent warning letters to any club that books is band as “Great White.” Attached as Exhibit F are copies of cease and desist letters I have authorized our attorneys to send.
37. I attended Russell’s deposition and reviewed the transcript, and I understand that he is charging approximately $5,000 — $8,000 less per show than Great White. Unscrupulous promoters may hire his band and promote it as “Great White.”
38. Russell’s use of “Great White featuring Jack Russell” or “Jack Russell’s Great White” is confusing because local promoters will use just “Great White.” Since this Court denied our motion for preliminary injunction, such confusing uses have become more common. Attached hereto as Exhibit G is a true and correct copy of an email that our booking got after booking a show in Ohio. It states that Russell is “sniffing around” for a show at a lower price.
39. Further, Russell has changed the use of his logo from a standard block text to a more classic Great White logo that is sure to cause even more confusion.
40. Russell’s presence in the market, offering “Great White” at a lower price, is driving down Great White’s prices. There is further confusion because, after denial of the preliminary injunction, some people think that Russell has “won” this case. If this Court grants this motion, I am certain that this confusion can be cleared up, thus protecting Great White and the public from further deception.