White Lion

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White Lion
White Lion as seen in 1989. From left to right: Greg D'Angelo, Mike Tramp, James LoMenzo, and Vito Bratta.
White Lion as seen in 1989. From left to right: Greg D'Angelo, Mike Tramp, James LoMenzo, and Vito Bratta.
Background information
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresGlam metal, hard rock, heavy metal
Years active1983–1992, 1999–2013
LabelsAtlantic, Frontiers
Associated actsMabel, Megadeth, Freak of Nature, Pride & Glory, Anthrax, Zakk Wylde, Black Sabbath, AntiProduct, Alice Cooper, Y&T, Guthrie Govan
Past membersJoe Hasselvander
Mike Tramp
Vito Bratta
James LoMenzo
Greg D'Angelo
Felix Robinson
Nicki Capozzi
Dave Spitz
Jimmy DeGrasso
Tommy T-Bone Caradonna
Kasper Damgard
Dan Hemmer
Nils Kroyer
Bjarne T. Holm
Jamie Law
Troy Patrick Farrell
Claus Langeskov
Henning Wanner

White Lion was a Danish/American rock band that was formed in New York City in 1983 by Danish vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mike Tramp and American lead guitarist Vito Bratta. Mainly active in the 1980s and early 1990s, they released their debut album Fight to Survive in 1985. The band achieved success with their No. 8 hit "Wait" and No. 3 hit "When the Children Cry" from their second album, the double platinum selling Pride.[1] The band continued their success with their third album, Big Game which achieved Gold status and their fourth album Mane Attraction which included a supporting tour. White Lion disbanded in 1992 and not long after their first compilation album, The Best of White Lion was released.

Mike Tramp reformed White Lion with all new musicians in 1999 and again following a failed attempt to reform the original line up and several legal issues in 2004. The new White Lion released a live album in 2005 and a brand new studio album Return of the Pride in 2008.


Fight to Survive[edit]

After moving from Denmark to Spain and then New York City, vocalist Mike Tramp (formerly of the bands Mabel,[2] Studs and Danish Lions) met Staten Island guitarist Vito Bratta (formerly of Dreamer) in 1983. They decided to put together a new band and recruited drummer Nicki Capozzi and bassist Felix Robinson (formerly of Angel)[3] and named the group White Lion.[4]

White Lion was signed by Elektra Records in 1984 and recorded their debut album Fight to Survive. Elektra was unhappy with the final recording, and after refusing to release the album, terminated the band's contract.

The album Fight to Survive was eventually released by Victor Company of Japan, Ltd, (JVC Records) in Japan in 1985. Philadelphia-based Grand Slamm Records bought the album from Elektra and released it in America the following year, under licensed by Elektra/Asylum Records. A few months later, Grand Slam Records went bankrupt.

Fight to Survive charted at number 151 on The Billboard 200[5] and featured the band's debut single and music video, "Broken Heart".

In 1985, Felix Robinson departed after they were dropped by Elektra and was replaced by bassist Dave Spitz (brother of Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz). With the Tramp, Bratta, Capozzi, Spitz line-up, the band recorded a round of demos and continued to play shows in New York while shopping around for a new record deal. This incarnation of White Lion was hired to play a fictional band in the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long movie The Money Pit, which was released a year later. The soundtrack features the song Web of Desire (credited to "White Lion and Robey (portrayed by Louise Robey), which was demoed that year. The film soundtrack was never officially released although the song plays in the movie during both of their scenes.

Dave Spitz left at the end of 1985 to join Black Sabbath, and was replaced by James LoMenzo. Nicki Capozzi was subsequently fired and replaced by former Anthrax drummer Greg D'Angelo.


Early in 1987, the band was signed by Atlantic Records. The recording of the album took six weeks[6] and on June 21, 1987 their album Pride was released. The first single, "Wait", was released on June 1, 1987, but did not reach the charts for nearly seven months.

The Pride tour started in July 1987 as White Lion opened for Ace Frehley's 80s band Frehley's Comet. The next year and a half was filled with constant touring, opening for such bands as Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Stryper and Kiss. In January 1988 White Lion landed the opening slot for AC/DC on their Blow Up Your Video American tour.

While touring with AC/DC, the Pride album and "Wait" single finally charted, due in no small part to MTV airing the "Wait" music video in regular rotation—nearly seven months after the single's release. "Wait" hit No. 8 on the singles chart, while Pride hit No. 11 on the album charts.[7] Pride would remain on the Top 200 Billboard album charts for a full year, selling two million copies in the US alone and achieving double platinum status.[8]

In August 1988, the album's second single, "Tell Me", reached No. 58. Around the time this single was released, White Lion played at the Ritz club in New York City. The show was filmed and later aired on MTV.

The Pride album's third single, a power ballad titled "When the Children Cry", made it to No. 3 on the charts with heavy MTV airplay.

The success of "When the Children Cry" would eventually push sales of Pride over the two million mark. In addition, Vito Bratta was recognized for his instrumental talents by racking up Best New Guitarist awards with both Guitar World magazine and Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine. All You Need Is Rock 'n' Roll was the final single released from the album.

In the spring of 1989, the Pride tour finally ended, and the band released their first video albums titled "Live at the Ritz" and "One Night in Tokyo" both of which featuring full concerts on VHS.

The band then immediately began work on their next album.

Big Game & Mane Attraction[edit]

In August 1989, White Lion released their third album, Big Game, a musically eclectic follow-up to Pride that featured the single "Little Fighter" (which peaked at No. 52), in Memory of The Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace boat which was destroyed by the French. A cover of Golden Earring's "Radar Love" (which peaked at No. 59) was released as the second single and "Cry for Freedom" was released as the third single. "Going Home Tonight" was released as the album's final single. The album quickly went gold, with a peak of No. 19 on the album charts.[9] The band's success continued with more constant touring.

After two years of writing and recording, White Lion released their fourth album Mane Attraction in the spring of 1991. More of a "back to basics" album, centering on strong hooks and melodic hard rock, the album was received well by the fans. Tramp also changed his singing style on this disc, as he was no longer comfortable singing high.[6] Unfortunately, the album failed to reach the top 20 like the last two albums, charting at No. 61 on The Billboard 200.[10] It received little or no airplay due to the recent Grunge explosion. The album featured the singles "Love Don't Come Easy" which peaked at number 24 on The Mainstream Rock Charts, "Lights and Thunder" and a re-recorded version of the band's debut single "Broken Heart", all of which featured music videos. "Out with the Boys" was released as a rare promo single and "Farewell to You" featured a music video montage. The album also contained White Lion's only instrumental song, "Blue Monday", a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, who had died while the band was writing the album. The album's two ballads "You're All I Need" and "Till Death Do Us Part" gained popular airplay in Indonesia and the Philippines.

"I have always said that Grunge didn’t kill the hard rock / glam rock movement. The rock movement killed itself. Hard Rock in the Eighties started off with the first wave of L.A bands. Then the second wave of L.A bands came along with the Classic seventies rockers who started to rebrand themselves to fit the scene. Then the third wave came and the fourth and the fifth further diluting the pool. Every two years, new cities got identified as the next big hub. So the Record Labels swarmed and so many inferior derivative bands got signed, that in the end, it all imploded. The real good acts couldn’t be heard from all the noise of the crap acts."

Vito Bratta[11]

Greg D'Angelo and James LoMenzo left the band soon after the album's release, citing "musical differences," but White Lion carried on with bassist Tommy T-Bone Caradonna and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Suicidal Tendencies, Y&T, Fiona).[6][12]


After briefly touring in support of Mane Attraction, Tramp and Bratta decided to fold the group, their last show being held in Boston at the Channel in September 1991. Exactly one year later, in September 1992, the band's first compilation album was released, titled The Best of White Lion. A Video/DVD album featuring concert footage, behind the scenes interviews and all of the band's music videos was also released, titled Escape from Brooklyn.

When asked what the album would be like if he and Vito Bratta had released another album after Mane Attraction, Tramp said it would have hinted at their growth and evolution, and taken them further away from the '80s sound. He commented:

I was kind of shocked cause to me it sounded like Vito and I weren't done working together and I was surprised that he never put up a fight when I said "No more White Lion." It was that he just lay down and gave up. I am not saying that White Lion would have continued if he and I had put up a fight. But I am sure that if we had sat down and talked and really looked at the picture and sorted out what had gone wrong and how much was our fault and how much was Kurt Cobain's, then there could possibly be a mature and musically serious band existing today, called White Lion.[6]

After White Lion[edit]

James LoMenzo and Greg D'Angelo joined Zakk Wylde's band, Lynyrd Skynhead, in the mid 1990s which became the band Pride & Glory when Greg D'Angelo was replaced by Brian Tichy.[13] Pride & Glory released one album, then James LoMenzo left the band. James went on to record and tour with ex-Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth, Zakk Wylde's band Black Label Society, thrash metal pioneers Megadeth, and in 2013, joined John Fogerty's solo band.

Vito Bratta stayed briefly with Atlantic Records to help produce an album for CPR, and later tried to form a new music group that never panned out. Despite a dedicated worldwide following of guitar aficionados, Vito disappeared from public view from 1994 until his interview by Eddie Trunk live on February 16, 2007. Vito is also the sole owner of the original White Lion's four album music catalogs, retaining the rights after Tramp sold all his rights to the catalogs in the mid 1990s. They are owned by Vavoom Music, Inc., which is owned by Bratta.

Freak of Nature[edit]

Mike Tramp went on to form the hard rock / heavy metal band Freak of Nature, The follow up was significantly heavier and darker than White Lion, featuring two guitar players and more visceral songs with a strong rhythmic foundation.[6] The band released three albums between 1992 and 1998, Freak of Nature, Gathering of Freaks, and Outcasts. The band shared stages with Helloween and Dio in Europe in 1993. Freak of Nature eventually disbanded in 1996. Tramp has often called Freak of Nature the best band he has been a part of and also said that he wanted to stray from the 80s sound and adopt a more 70s approach.

Mike Tramp solo career[edit]

Following Freak of Nature, Tramp began a solo career, releasing his debut album as a solo artist in 1998 titled Capricorn. The album featured former Freak of Nature bandmates, guitarist Kenny Korade and bass player Jerry Best.[14] Former White Lion bass guitarist James LoMenzo performed backing vocals on the album.[15] The song "Better Off" was released as Tramp's debut solo single[16] and features his first solo music video. The album also features the singles "Already Gone",[17] "If I Live Tomorrow"[18] and "Take a Little Time".[19]

It would be five years before Tramp returned to the studio to record his follow-up album, Recovering the Wasted Years, during which time he would move to Australia, with the aim of raising his son away from the rigors of big city life and to plan his next career move.[20] Recovering the Wasted Years was released in 2002 and featured the singles "Living a Lie" [21] and "Endless Highway" both featuring live music videos.

In 2003, Tramp followed-up with his third album, More to Life Than This, which Tramp once again produced himself but relied on producer/engineer Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica) to engineer and mix the sessions in his very own Sweet Silence Studios.[22] The album's title track, "More to Life Than This",[23] and "Don't Want to Say Good Night"[24] were both released as singles. A music video made in Australia was released for the song "Lay Down My Life For You". Also in 2003, Tramp released the double disc live album Rock 'N' Roll Alive, which features Tramp performing live versions of songs from White Lion, Freak of Nature, and his solo albums.

In 2004, Tramp released the solo album Songs I Left Behind.

The new White Lion and legal issues[edit]

"We tried to do new White Lions with Warren DeMartini and Paul Gilbert and all these others, and no one wanted to do Vito. He was unlike anyone else, he had his own way of doing thing, and plus he was a great songwriter. Had he remained in the business, Vito would have been bigger than Steve Vai and all those types of guys."

Mike Tramp[11]

In 1999 after commencing his solo career, Mike Tramp, with all new musicians, also released Remembering White Lion, which featured new versions of some of White Lion's classic songs and started what would be a long battle to reform White Lion.

In 2000, momentum for a new White Lion continued with the release of an updated White Lion compilation titled The Essential White Lion and a second best of album was released titled White Lion Hits.

In October 2003, Tramp announced a White Lion reunion with the original members.[25] This statement was quickly denied by the other former members. Later Tramp said that Vito Bratta wanted nothing to do with a reunion. With summer festivals in Europe already booked, Tramp attempted to put together a "new White Lion" featuring former members James LoMenzo and Jimmy DeGrasso, along with Warren DeMartini of Ratt.[26] Vito Bratta filed suit claiming partial ownership of the name, and the tour was scrapped. Tramp later commented that despite his willingness, "There will never be an original White Lion reunion".[27]

In 2004 due to legal issues, the album Remembering White Lion was re-released under the new title Last Roar featuring the band name Tramp's White Lion.

In late 2004, Mike Tramp organized another group of unknown musicians and continued with a new White Lion under the act Tramp's White Lion,[28] this however did not stop the persistent legal issues with former members. Despite all the issues, 'TWL' (a.k.a White Lion 2) played and re-recorded White Lion songs, touring and releasing a box set titled The Bootleg Series in 2004 and a double-live CD entitled Rocking the USA in 2005.

The band had several concerts cancelled in late 2005 as promoters backed away due to the threat of possible legal action and by the end of the year Tramp had almost completely given up on White Lion, but six months later was inspired to continue with the booking of a European tour for November and December 2006. Tramp's White Lion played several dates in Europe including Sweden, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.[29]

In 2005, a Concert Anthology DVD was released followed by the album Anthology in 2006 featuring never before released songs and demo versions of White Lion classic songs from previous albums.

On February 16, 2007, Vito Bratta appeared on the Eddie Trunk radio show in New York, stating that despite what Mike Tramp said, he had never refused a White Lion reunion, stating that the only reason he was unable to participate was due to the illness of his father. He added that he would still be open to the idea and has not closed the door to returning to the music industry again. Trunk made it clear that Bratta's involvement in the show was something that he had wanted to happen since White Lion first broke up in 1991. Bratta took calls and answered questions from fans for almost 3 hours. On April 6 and 7, 2007, at the L'Amours Reunion Shows in New York, Bratta made his first public musical appearances in over 15 years.[30]

Three weeks later Mike Tramp called the same show from Australia, speaking about Bratta and the band's new album, including the tour dates that Tramp's White Lion had recently confirmed. Tramp said that he was thankful that Bratta had finally answered fan's questions, the same questions he himself had been asked many times over the past 15 years. He also stated that he felt uncomfortable answering on Vito's behalf, and that he was upset that Vito had withdrawn himself from the music industry.

Mike Tramp in June 2008

Return of the Pride[edit]

A White Lion compilation The Definitive Rock Collection was released in 2007 and the band was set for a summer tour with Poison and Ratt only to be dropped by the tour promoter after ex-White Lion guitarist Vito Bratta threatened to take legal action over the band name.[31]

In response to the rumors surrounding the White Lion and the Poison/Ratt summer tour, Tramp issued a statement explaining that tour promoters Live Nation's decision was not based on any controversy over whether Mike Tramp has the legal right to perform as White Lion. Live Nation's decision was based upon the threatened lawsuit by Vito Bratta. Even though Live Nation believed Bratta's lawsuit to be frivolous and had confirmed that Mike Tramp has the legal right to perform as White Lion, they did not want to spend 'one dollar' on litigation. Faced with the cancellation of a tour that was to begin within weeks, the band's attorneys went the extra mile to work out a deal with Vito Bratta to drop his threatened lawsuit but even with the threat of litigation eliminated, Live Nation continued on their ill-informed course of dropping White Lion from the Poison tour. Extremely upset with the decision, Tramp acknowledges the many fans across the United States who were also disappointed by Live Nation's decision.[32]

Despite the threatened legal action and the band's removal from the Poison/Ratt tour, White Lion continued touring and fulfilled their many headline shows in the U.S. that were scheduled between the Poison shows, including the Rocklahoma festival with Poison, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Slaughter, Y&T, Gypsy Pistoleros, Dirty Penny, Greg Leon Invasion and Zendozer. Tramp also confirmed to MelodicRock.com that the band had just finished recording its new studio album and the CD would be mixed by Dennis Ward and titled Return of the Pride.

The new studio album entitled Return of the Pride was released on March 14, 2008 and the band was now once again simply known as White Lion.[33] The band did a world tour to support the album. White Lion toured India and played to 42,000 at Shillong, Meghalaya, and a 30,000 plus crowd at the Dimapur stadium in Nagaland. The band was invited to India by the head of the Tripura Royal Family Maharaja Kirit Pradyot Deb Burman.[34] The album featured the singles "Dream" and "Live Your Life".

A live DVD was released on December 5, 2008 entitled Bang Your Head Festival 2005.[35]

White Lion: final activities[edit]

With White Lion on hold again Tramp continues with his solo career releasing the album Mike Tramp & The Rock 'N' Roll Circuz in 2009, which is also now the name of his solo band, a Copenhagen-based band with all Danish members. The album was initially intended to be the next new White Lion album but a new solo band was formed instead. The album hit the IFPI, Denmark's official top 40 hitlist albums' at number 16[36] and features the singles "All Of My Life" and "Come On" which also features a music video. In 2011, Tramp released the solo album Stand Your Ground featuring the singles "Distance"[37] and "Hymn To Ronnie", a tribute song to former Heaven & Hell and Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who died on May 16, 2010.[38]

On April 8, 2013, Tramp released the acoustic folk style rock album Cobblestone Street. The album charted at Denmark's official top 40 hitlist albums' at number 21[39] and features the singles "New Day"[40] and "Revolution".[41] While promoting his solo album, Tramp announced in several interviews that there would no longer be a White Lion of any kind, including the new White Lion or any possible reunions.[42][43] In August 2014, Tramp released the acoustic folk style rock album Museum. The album charted at Denmark's official top 40 hitlist albums' at number 3[44] and includes the singles "Trust in Yourself" which features a music video directed by his son Dylan[45] and "Freedom". Following this release, Tramp once again confirmed there would be no more White Lion.[46]

With White Lion officially over, the voice of the band Mike Tramp continued with his solo career releasing the album Nomad in 2015. The album charted on Denmark's official top 40 hitlist albums at number 21[47] and features the singles "High Like A Mountain"[48] and "Give It All You Got" which features a music video filmed and edited in Copenhagen.[49] In 2016, following up on Nomad's success and the award for "Classic Rock Album of the Year" at High Voltage Rock Awards, Tramp released the single "Stay" which like previous singles was played heavily on Danish national radio. "Stay" came with a video that showed former White Lion frontman Mike Tramp in total isolation, living the life of a forest worker in the beautiful Scandinavian woods.[50]

Band members[edit]

Last line up[edit]

  • Mike Tramp - lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1983–1992,1999–2013)
  • Jamie Law - lead guitar (2004–2013)
  • Troy Patrick Farrell - drums (2004–2013)
  • Claus Langeskov - bass (2004–2013)
  • Henning Wanner - keyboards (2004–2013)

Classic line up[edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Vito Bratta - lead guitar, backing vocals (1983–1992)
  • Joe Hasselvander - drums (1983)
  • Nicki Capozzi - drums (1983–1984)
  • Felix Robinson - bass (1983–1984)
  • Bruno Ravel - bass (1984)
  • Dave Spitz - bass (1985)
  • James LoMenzo - bass, backing vocals (1985–1991)
  • Greg D'Angelo - drums (1985–1991)
  • Jimmy DeGrasso - drums (1991–1992)
  • Tommy T-Bone Caradonna - bass (1991–1992)
  • Kasper Damgaard - lead guitar (1999–2003)
  • Nils Kroyer - bass (1999–2003)
  • Bjarne T. Holm - drums (1999–2003)
  • Dan Hemmer - keyboards (1999–2003)


Social issues[edit]

Unlike most bands of their genre, White Lion recorded occasional songs that addressed social or political issues such as apartheid ("Cry for Freedom"), the war in El Salvador ("El Salvador") and the effect of divorce on children ("Broken Home"). The song "Little Fighter" was about the Rainbow Warrior, a ship owned by the environmental group Greenpeace that was destroyed by operatives of the French intelligence service. This concern for political and social issues was also hinted at in the cover art to their album Big Game, which featured a lion's head hidden in tall grass with the White House in the background. Tramp himself has noted that the only thing that associated them to other bands of the era was the "80s look",[6] which confused many a fan.


Year Title Label
1985 Fight to Survive Asylum Records
1987 Pride Atlantic Records
1989 Big Game
1991 Mane Attraction
1999 Remembering White Lion Cleopatra Records
2008 Return of the Pride Frontiers Records


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External links[edit]

Official websites:

Non official websites: