COLUMBUS, Ohio – A concert industry watchdog said a nightclub seemed tone deaf to potential criticism over a booking that would tie together two of the decade's worst concert tragedies.
Alrosa Villa, the venue here where guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott and four others died in a 2004 shooting, scheduled a Friday night concert by Great White, the 1980s band whose pyrotechnics ignited a fire during a West Warwick, R.I., show that killed 100 people in 2003.
Concert safety expert Paul Wertheimer called it "a match made in hell."
"Why would you bring those two negative forces together?" asked Wertheimer, founder of Los Angeles-based Crowd Management Strategies. "How could anyone with any sensibility not want to hate you for that?"
Alrosa Villa manager Rick Cautela said he wondered about the wisdom of bringing in Great White and said he received "several nays" when he got a chance to book the band and asked others what they thought.
But he went ahead, not for financial reasons, but for the fans, Cautela said.
"I booked them because I love the '80s people and those bands," he said. "And who doesn't love the (Great White) song 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy'?"
Great White front man Jack Russell said he understood why some would want to blame the Alrosa Villa or Great White for the tragedies.
The singer said his band would never fully get over the fire and those who died, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley, but they needed to keep going.
"Hopefully my music will continue to enhance people's lives and maybe in some small way contribute happiness in some people's lives," Russell said. "Unfortunately, this will be a legacy that will live with the band forever."