The lead singer for the band whose pyrotechnics display sparked the nightclub fire that killed 100 people in 2003 in Rhode Island said he's making a documentary that will give him a chance to apologize and tell his side of the story.
Jack Russell of Great White told Portland, Oregon, radio station 105.9 The Brew last week that the fire was rock-and-roll's 9/11. He said he is still horrified by what happened that night, when Great White's pyrotechnics set fire to flammable foam inside The Station nightclub in West Warwick. Among the dead was Great White drummer Ty Longley. More than 200 people were injured.
Eight people from Connecticut were killed or injured.
Russell said he feels "survivors' guilt."
"Why did I get to live and so many other people didn't? I feel guilty for people coming to see me play and losing their lives. It's really hard to deal with it," Russell said.
He said his lawyer at the time told him not to say he was sorry because it would imply guilt. Russell was not charged in the blaze. His tour manager, who set off the pyrotechnics without a permit, and the brothers who owned the club struck plea deals, with one of the brothers and the tour manager spending time in prison. Russell and the other members of the band later settled a lawsuit for $1 million.
"It's not like I had anything personally to do. It was just a horrible accident," Russell told the station. "There was a lot of weird things that had to come into play to make that happen."
He mentioned the fire marshal, who failed to note the foam during an inspection, and noted the club's owners had installed an exit door that swung the wrong way.
Russell's comments angered Jody King, whose brother, Tracy, was a bouncer at the club and was killed. King said Russell walked away from his responsibilities after the fire.
"I think it's ruining all the positive strides that we're now making to heal here in Rhode Island," he said Thursday. "If he wants to help, stay away, shut your mouth."
Russell told the radio station he will never get over it, but doing the documentary might help.
"It will get me some peace," Russell said.
Nancy Noyes of Columbia was a victim of the fire, and said she thinks Russell speaking out is selfish.
"It's selfish of Jack Russell to make all the survivors re-live the tragedy to relieve his own guilt. He just wants attention. If he talked to me personally I would show him much sympathy and compassion," Noyes said.
The station nightclub fire site will one day become a permanent memorial to the victims. Funds are still being raised.
This story has been corrected to show that interview took place last week, not Wednesday.
To listen to the full interview, click here.
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.