Mark Kendall Talks Sobriety , Music, and 9 Ball

photo by Barry Parker

The date was May 21, 1988 , and I was on Global Travels concert caravan heading to one of my first hard rock shows and little did I know then as a young lad, that many decads later I would be able to speak with my idols of the time. I was lucky enough a few months ago to chat with Whitesnake guitar God Adrian Vandenberg and now I have completed the circle by speaking directly with Great White mainstay and legend guitarist Mark Kendall.

The show at the Castle was awesome and I remember the great blues rock riffs from Mark and the rest of the band where they were playing mostly from the Once Bitten album. Over the years, I have still followed Great White and have seen them more than a few times. I was telling Mark that my favourite album of theirs was Can’t Get There From Here which was very melodic with strong lyrics. Tunes like Hey Mister and Freedom Song really gives me goosebumps. The band over the years has had a few lineup changes but the core (Lardie, Kendall, Desbrow, Russell), have stayed intact for the most part until 2011 when Jack Russell left the band. Currently, Great White is still rocking strong and haven’t missed a beat and frontman, Mitch Malloy brings a new dimention in my opinion to this legendary band.
Below is my Q & A with Mark. I hope you enjoy and share everywhere.

Favorite Canadian guitarist and why?

“I loved Alex Lifeson’s approached to the guitar. He knew the best way to compliment the bands music. I don’t know that anyone else could have done it better than Rush. Unique guitar sound that spoke well but left air for the bass and drums! Alex has great playing skills.. “

Favourite Canadian band and why?

“Loverboy and Bryan Adams were really good! We never played with Loverboy back in the day but in the last 10 years we’ve played with them around 4 times.”

Guitar influences growing up?

“When I was 10 yrs old I just learned songs like Gloria, Wipe Out, Pipeline and Secret Agent Man by Jimmy Rivers. I didn’t really start paying attention to individual guitar players until I was 14. The first one I was captivated by was Carlos Santana. Loved the guy and learned every Santana song possible. At 15 it was Johnny Winter & Alvin Lee. I could play I’m Goin’ Home note for note at 15. Then Blackmore, Billy Gibbons, Robin Trower etc…”

What do you do for leisure outside of music?

“I love to compete in pool. I’m just under pro caliber skill level and love it. Played in straight pool world championships in New York a couple years ago, that was a blast!!”

When is the last time you communicated with Jack Russel and what are your thoughts on the subject of your long time brother and bandmate?

“I haven’t spoken with Jack for 10 years, since he left the band. We had a great run together and always got along wonderfully! I was close to his parents. They were Jack and Emily, two of the greatest people you could ever know!! Great White broke up in early 2000s and collectively did our own thing. I made a band called Train Station with keyboard player Dicky Sims from Eric Clapton & a singer called Todd Griffin. We did one album. After that I did a solo album. Jack toured with his solo band. Michael Lardie joined Night Ranger for 4 years and Audie Desbrow did album projects and played with different people. In 2006 we reunited. We did a couple records and Jack left the band in 2009..”

What does Mitch Malloy bring to the band?

“Great song sense and intense live performer. He has a high range vocally with a lot of power and a great guy to be around.”

Describe a funny or weird touring story?

“I guess this would be considered weird. This happened on our tour with Whitesnake in 1990 I believe. We were playing on stage in Normal Illinois and a woman fell from the sky onto the stage during a song and almost fell directly on our singer!
“I guess some chick was high on something and climbed up on the lighting truss undetected! She climbed across the truss to dead middle of the stage, hung on the bar and let go from about 30 feet in the air. We had to stop the show as paramedics took her off the stage. We found out later she was gonna be okay..”

I understand you are very spiritual and sobriety is number one in your life alongside of your family. Please discuss how and when you stopped drinking and why?

“I stopped drinking November 1, 2008. I stopped because I had a hard time controlling my drinking which was creating a dark world for me. I didn’t want to live there anymore. Today I’m doing well and I help alcoholic/addicts on a daily basis. I will have 11 years of continuous sobriety 11/1/2019.”

When can your fans expect the new album?

“We hope by the early part of next year.”

What is your favourite B side song and why?


“There’s so many but I always kind of liked ‘Hold On’ from our very first album. None of those songs got much attention off of our debut album.”

Can you describe in laymans terms how the music industry works and how musicans that have made it big get paid ; royalties, advances, touring, merch etc?

“Usually through their corporations. All monies, royalties etc., usually go in their Corporate accounts and the band can decide how they want to pay themselves. Apart from songwriting royalties, which go to the artists who wrote the songs.”

Do you read in your spare time and if so, what are you currently reading?

“Love it!! Right now I’m reading a book called Curve Ball about the baseball player Barry Zito who signed a deal for 126 million to SF Giants. It was the biggest contract at the time. Today it’s not…”

You opened for Alice Cooper in Sault Ste Marie Ontario at the Memorial Gardens New Years day 1990….Do you remember that show ?

“We played all over the world in I believe 30 different countries on that tour. We played pretty extensively in Canada also. It would be difficult to remember that one show unless I played there again. Perhaps something would spark my memory.”

“Thank you to all our fans in Canada and around the world and we hope to see you soon !!. You guys are the most loyal fans ever and we love you all !!”

There you have it kids ; keeping reading Rock’N Roll Up North or Mark’s coming to look for ya !!!

** Next week, Bass God, Gary Shea from New England and Alcatrazz will be discussing his current projects and life working with other legends such as Steve Vai, Yngwie, Malmsteen and many more**

Ernest Skinner