How Great White Rocked the Hannibal Riverfront Twice in the 80’s
Many bands rolled through Hannibal, Missouri during the mid-1980's and early 1990's, but not many did it twice. Great White accomplished that feat once as an opening band and later as a co-headliner that arguably put on one of the best live performances of that era.
In our comprehensive documentation of all the shows that were put on at the Hannibal Riverfront Amphitheater, we included two dates that were wildly different, but both included the band Great White.
The first appearance of Great White in Hannibal was on August 28, 1987 when they opened for Night Ranger. Their album Once Bitten had only released two months prior in June of 87. Their song "Rock Me" didn't do much on the Billboard chart topping out at #60, but the video was getting play on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Not many remember their opening gig for Night Ranger, but it was a precursor to one of the biggest tours of their career.
The second appearance of Great White in Hannibal was for me the most memorable. It happened September 2, 1989 when they returned to the area being billed as a co-headliner with Tesla while Jake E. Lee's band Badlands opened. If you recall the controversy of that era, the Riverfront Progress Association had to deal with almost constant nagging about the volume of the concerts. It reached its zenith during the Great White/Tesla/Badlands show where an ad was taken out in the newspaper asking the residents who had been complaining to be patient with the upcoming show as organizers tried to come up with a compromise with the city.
John Lyng noted in his definitive book on the Hannibal Riverfront Amphitheater shows called Stage Call that there were 38 calls about the noise the night of September 2, 1989, but 1 stood above the rest. The man called to complain that the concert wasn't loud enough. That's classic. I'd love to shake that man's hand.
I was working the September 2, 1989 concert with the rest of the staff of 99Q and had personally been looking forward to Tesla as "Modern Day Cowboy" was one of my favorite songs. My takeaway after the show was over was that Great White blew everyone away. Looking back, I consider their performance in September of 89 as one of if not THE best concerts from the Hannibal Riverfront Amphitheater era.
Great White will be returning this summer to Hannibal on July 21, 2023 when they perform at the Hannibal BBQ Festival. They're a different band now than they were during their first 2 appearances in Hannibal with lead vocalist Jack Russell now heading his own version of the band, but their legacy remains. To this day still one of the best concerts in Hannibal history in the opinion of many...including me.