Ty Longley: Age 31 | Cause Of Death: FIRE

Great White

(Born: September 4, 1971, Sharon, PA; Died: February 20, 2003,Warwick, RI) 

Great White Guitarist Declared Dead by Josh Grossberg

Ty Longley, the lead guitarist for heavy metal band Great White, is among the latest victims confirmed dead in last week’s devastating Rhode Island nightclub fire. The guitarist’s name was one of 13 added to the list of fatalities on Monday, bringing the number of those killed to 97. Longley, who joined Great White in 2000, took to the stage of the Station with his band mates accompanied by a burst of pyrotechnics, which touched off a blaze that engulfed the venue in less than three minutes. Nearly 100 fans were injured and taken to a local hospital in the town of West Warwick. As of Monday, about 80 were still hospitalized, half of those listed in critical condition. The 31-year-old Longley was reported missing soon after the event, but his death was not confirmed until today. A native of Sharon, Pennsylvania, the musician was not an original member of Great White during its heyday in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but joined the band on tours three years ago. Longley was planning to move in with his pregnant girlfriend, Heidi, after the end of this tour. His family was said to be in shock over the tragedy. They and other families of victims traveled to the site this weekend to grieve over the loss of their loved ones. A message posted Monday on Great White lead singer Jack Russell’s official Website (www.planetjr.com) expressed the band’s condolences to all the victims in the tragedy and mourned the loss of Longley, who members called their “best friend.”  “The thoughts and prayers of everybody associated with the band goes out to every person affected by this tragedy,” the message reads. “There are no words to express our sadness at the loss everybody has suffered.”  Speaking on Good Morning America, Great White attorney Ed McPherson added, “The band’s a mess.”  The group has returned to its home base in Los Angeles and is said to be cooperating with authorities–the same apparently can’t be said for Station owners Jeffrey Derderian and his brother Michael Derderian. According to State Attorney General Patrick Lynch, the siblings have not exactly been forthcoming in answering investigators’ inquiries into what happened Thursday. In fact, Jeffrey Derderian has not spoken with authorities since the night of the fire, while his brother hasn’t talked at all.  Facing the possibility of criminal charges and million-dollar civil suits, the Derederians and Great White have been playing the blame game, focusing on whether the band had permission to set off a pyrotechnics display in the venue.  Russell, has said repeatedly that the Station’s management gave the rockers the okay to do so, a claim refuted by the Derderians in a statement released on Friday.  Club owners who’ve previously hosted Great White on this tour have come forward with conflicting accounts over whether the band sought approval to use pyrotechnics.  Dominic Santana, owner of New Jersey’s famed Stone Pony, said the band used the sparklers during a show there on Valentine’s Day without asking, while club owners in other cities have said just the opposite.  On Sunday, about 400 family members of the victims gathered around the blackened remains of the Station to mourn privately. They hugged, prayed and left flowers, photographs and stuffed animals. Officials put up black fabric around them to keep out the news media and other gawkers.  “These families are going through such a tragedy, such an emotional odyssey right now, and their hearts are broken, and they still don’t know in many cases whether their loved one has been positively ID’d,” Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri said Monday.  Of the 97 people who lost their lives, only 55 have been positively identified.