Thursday, June 30, 2011

Great White - "Rock Me"

Rock Me - Once Bitten

(Debuted August 22, 1987, Peaked #60, 14 Weeks on the Chart)

"Rock Me" was the breakout hit from Great White, but the band had been working for nearly a decade before they made it big. Originally called Dante Fox, their eventual name came from guitarist Mark Kendall's white-blond mane. He wore white suits and played a white-colored guitar in those early days, so singer Jack Russell would introduce him before his onstage solos as "Mark Kendall, the Great White" and the name eventually stuck with the band.

"Rock Me" was a cut from the LP Once Bitten... and was more than seven minutes long. While album rock stations had no problem playing the song at that length, Top 40 stations opted to play edited versions that were between three and five minutes long. A tune that started off soft and built itself up as it approached the chorus (call it similar to foreplay -- or at least the initial excitement --  before the act of sex begins), it counted Aerosmith and Van Halen as influences.

Great White would enjoy more hits through the 1980s, they were among the bands that feel out of favor after the rise of grunge in the early 90s but managed to stay together despite a series of rotating members. Sadly, it took a tragedy to bring Great White back into the spotlight in 2003. During a concert in a Rhode Island nightclub, pyrotechnics started a fire that killed a hundred people, including guitarist Ty Longley. Actually, the band performing wasn't officially Great White but a group supporting Jack Russell during one of the band's hiatuses.

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