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White Lion

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White Lion
White Lion in 1989; left to right: Greg D'Angelo, Mike Tramp, James LoMenzo, Vito Bratta
White Lion in 1989; left to right: Greg D'Angelo, Mike Tramp, James LoMenzo, Vito Bratta
Background information
OriginCopenhagen, Denmark and New York City, United States
Years active1983–1992, 1999, 2004–2009
LabelsAsylum Records, Atlantic, Frontiers
Past membersMike Tramp
Vito Bratta
Joe Hasselvander
James LoMenzo
Greg D'Angelo
Felix Robinson
Nicki Capozzi
Dave Spitz
Jimmy DeGrasso
Darrell Coleburn
Michael Clayton
Tommy T-Bone Caradonna
Kasper Damgard
Dan Hemmer
Nils Kroyer
Bjarne T. Holm
Jamie Law
Troy Patrick Farrell
Claus Langeskov
Henning Wanner
Bruno Ravel

White Lion was a Danish-American glam metal band that was formed in New York City in 1983 by Danish vocalist/guitarist Mike Tramp and Italian-American 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. 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 afterwards, their first compilation album, The Best of White Lion was released.

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

In 2023, Tramp would release the re-recorded versions of White Lion's greatest hits on an album, appropriately titled, The Songs of White Lion.


Fight to Survive[edit]

After moving from Denmark to Spain and then New York City, vocalist Mike Tramp (formerly of the bands Mabel, Studs, and Danish Lions) met Staten Island guitarist Vito Bratta (formerly of Dreamer) in late November 1982 at L'Amour Rock Club in Brooklyn when Tramp was playing with his band. In March 1983 they decided to put together a new band. At first they had a hard time finding a stable rhythm section, and they tried several different ones including Michael Clayton on drums (who later played in the band Tyketto). After a while, they recruited drummer Nicki Capozzi and bassist Felix Robinson (formerly of Angel) and named the group White Lion.

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 license by Elektra/Asylum Records. Fight to Survive charted at number 151 on Billboard 200 and featured the band's debut single and music video, "Broken Heart." A few months after the album's release, Grand Slamm Records went bankrupt.

Felix Robinson had departed the band after they were dropped by Elektra in 1984. He was eventually replaced by bassist Dave Spitz (brother of Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz). With the Tramp, Bratta, Capozzi, Spitz lineup, the band recorded a round of demos for their second album, 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 the band's scenes. Nicki Capozzi was subsequently fired due to health issues and was in September 1985 replaced by former Anthrax drummer Greg D'Angelo.

Dave Spitz left at the beginning of 1986 to join Black Sabbath, and was briefly replaced by Bruno Ravel, who left shortly afterwards because he was not allowed to contribute ideas. In March 1986, James LoMenzo was asked to join, and then the band finally was complete.


Early in 1987, the band was signed by Atlantic Records. The recording of the new LP took six weeks 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 Frehley's Comet. The next year and a half was filled with constant touring, opening for such bands as Aerosmith, Stryper and Kiss. In January 1988, White Lion landed the opening slot for AC/DC on their Blow Up Your Video album American tour.

While the band toured 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. 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.[4]

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 US 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 end of 1988, 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.[5] A cover of Golden Earring's "Radar Love" (which peaked at No. 59) was released as the second single and "Cry for Freedom", a political song about apartheid in South Africa[6] 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. The band's success continued with more constant touring. They did a European tour, including a string of UK arena shows supporting Mötley Crüe with Skid Row, and also played with Ozzy Osbourne and Cinderella.

After less successful gigs in England and mixed reviews of the new album, the band chose to take a few months off after the turn of the year to focus on writing a new album. Just in time for the late autumn of 1990, they entered the classic A&M studios with a new producer. White Lion released their fourth album Mane Attraction in March 1991. The album featured the singles "Love Don't Come Easy" which peaked at number 24 on the Mainstream Rock Charts, "Lights and Thunder", which is an eight-minute heavy rock epic with a complex structure inspired by Led Zeppelin's "Achilles Last Stand",[7] and a re-recorded version of the band's debut single "Broken Heart", all of which featured music videos. "Out with the Boys" and "You're All I Need" were released as promo singles 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.

Greg D'Angelo and James LoMenzo left the band in June 1991 when they came back from the European tour, citing "musical differences," but White Lion carried on with bassist Tommy T-Bone Caradonna and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (a sideman for Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Suicidal Tendencies, Y&T, and Fiona).


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.

Tramp has in later interviews told that the band split up due lack of interests from the record company, issues with the band management and above all the entry of grunge music.

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.

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.[8] 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 1992 until his interview by Eddie Trunk live on February 16, 2007. Vito is the sole owner of the White Lion music catalog, retaining the legal and distributive rights to all four original albums. The material was licensed entirely to Bratta's Vavoom Music, Inc, when Tramp sold off his share in the mid-1990s.

Freak of Nature[edit]

Mike Tramp went on to form the alt-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. 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.

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.[9] Former White Lion bass guitarist James LoMenzo performed backing vocals on the album.[10] The song "Better Off" was released as Tramp's debut solo single[11] and features his first solo music video. The album also features the singles "Already Gone",[12] "If I Live Tomorrow"[13] and "Take a Little Time".[14]

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.[15] Recovering the Wasted Years was released in 2002 and featured the singles "Living a Lie" [16] 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.[17] The album's title track, "More to Life Than This",[18] and "Don't Want to Say Good Night"[19] 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]

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 a second best of album titled White Lion Hits followed by an updated White Lion compilation titled The Essential White Lion.

In October 2003, Tramp announced a White Lion reunion, without confirmation of who the lineup would be.[20] 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.[21] 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".

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 (TWL),[22] 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 canceled 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.[23]

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 three 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.[24]

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 fans' 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.[citation needed]

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.[25]

In response to the rumors surrounding the White Lion and 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 negotiated a deal with Vito Bratta to drop his threatened lawsuit. However, even with the threat of litigation eliminated, Live Nation did not reinstate White Lion onto the tour. Extremely upset with the decision, Tramp acknowledged the many fans across the United States who were also disappointed by Live Nation's decision.[26]

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.[citation needed]

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. 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. 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.[27]

White Lion: final activities[edit]

Following the release of Return of the Pride, Tramp faced a tumultuous time of professional indecision as he tried to decide between continuing his solo career or pouring his energy into White Lion.[28]

With White Lion ultimately put on hold again, Tramp continued with his solo career and in 2013 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.[29][30][31] In 2014, Tramp once again confirmed there would be no more White Lion.[32]

Band members[edit]

Former members[edit]

  • Mike Tramp – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1983–1992, 1999–2009)
  • Vito Bratta – lead guitar, backing vocals (1983–1992)
  • Nicki Capozzi – drums (1983–1984)
  • Felix Robinson – bass (1983–1984)
  • Joe Hasselvander – drums (1983)
  • 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)
  • Jamie Law – lead guitar (2004–2009)
  • Troy Patrick Farrell – drums (2004–2009)
  • Claus Langeskov – bass (2004–2009)
  • Henning Wanner – keyboards (2004–2009)


Social issues[edit]

Unlike most bands of their genre,[citation needed] 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 the French government.


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Comaratta, Len (September 26, 2010). "Whatever Happened To: The B-Listers of Hair Metal". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  2. ^ Rolli, Bryan (August 11, 2021). "Megadeth Announce James LoMenzo as Touring Bassist". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  3. ^ Wake, Matt (July 29, 2022). "Vito Bratta reflects on the '80s, when White Lion were kings of the hard-rock jungle, and the guitar rulebook was being rewritten by Eddie Van Halen". Guitar World. Retrieved December 13, 2022.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  5. ^ "story of White Lion's 'Little Fighter'". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  6. ^ "White Lion – Big Game + killer Vito Bratta moments". March 28, 2013. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  7. ^ "White Lion: I was tired of the other guys, or maybe just the guitarist". November 10, 2015. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  8. ^ Paul, Alan (November 4, 2011). "Zakk Wylde Discusses Pride & Glory, His New Band (and Album), in 1994 Guitar World Interview". Guitar. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  9. ^ "Mike Tramp". musicmight.com. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "Mike Tramp Capricorn credits". Heavyharmonies.com. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Mike Tramp - Better Off". rockdoc. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  12. ^ "Mike Tramp - Already Gone". rockdoc. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  13. ^ "Mike Tramp - If I Live Tomorrow". rockdoc. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  14. ^ "Mike Tramp - Leftovers". Musicstack. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  15. ^ "Mike Tramp - Recovering the Wasted Years". ulfTone music. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "Mike Tramp - Living a Lie". Rockdoc.dk. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  17. ^ "Ulftone - Mike Tramp". Ulftone music. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
  18. ^ "More to Life Than This single". Musicstack. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  19. ^ "Mike Tramp new single". Blabbermouth. February 12, 2003. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  20. ^ "White Lion reunion of original line up". Blabbermouth. 2003. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  21. ^ "White Lion reunion". Blabbermouth. 2004. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  22. ^ "Tramp's White Lion". Blabbermouth. 2004. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  23. ^ "Tramp's White Lion Roars again". Blabbermouth. 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  24. ^ "VITO BRATTA ON THE RADIO Eddie Trunk Show". Guitars 101. 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  25. ^ "White Lion Officially Off Poison Ratt Tour". KNAC. 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  26. ^ "WHITE LION Frontman Comments On Band's Withdrawal From POISON/RATT Tour". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  27. ^ "White Lion Video Albums". Spirit of Metal. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  28. ^ "Second Time Around". Cryptic Rock. April 29, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  29. ^ "Interviews: A Candid Interview with Mike Tramp - Sea of Tranquility - The Web Destination for Progressive Music!". Seaoftranquility.org.
  30. ^ "Mike Tramp : "It was a mistake to try to do a new version of White Lion"". May 1, 2013. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  31. ^ "Mike Tramp: the hard rocker who wasn't really one". September 3, 2013. Archived from the original on September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  32. ^ "Ex-WHITE LION Singer MIKE TRAMP Re-Signs With TARGET RECORDS". Blabbermouth. February 18, 2015. Retrieved August 29, 2015.

External links[edit]