White Lion

Origin New York CityNew YorkUnited States
Genres Glam metalhard rockHeavy metal
Years active 1983–1992
Labels AtlanticFrontiers
Associated acts Mabel, Freak of NaturePride & GloryMegadethAnthraxZakk WyldeBlack Sabbath,AntiProductAlice CooperY&T

White Lion is an American/Danish hard rock/heavy metal band that was formed in New York City in 1983 by Danish vocalist Mike Tramp andAmerican guitarist Vito Bratta. Mainly active in the 1980s and early 1990s, releasing 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.

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

After moving from Denmark to Spain and to New York in 1983, vocalist Mike Tramp (formerly of the bands Mabel[2] and Studs) met Staten Islandguitarist Vito Bratta (formerly of Dreamer) and decided to form a band. The two recruited drummer Nicki Capozzi and bassist Felix Robinson (formerly of Angel) and named the group White Lion.[3]

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.

Both Capozzi and Robinson soon left the band. Nicki Capozzi was replaced by former Anthrax drummer Greg D’Angelo, and Felix Robinson was replaced by bassist Dave Spitz (brother of Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz). Within a month of joining, however, Dave Spitz left to play bass with Black Sabbath and was replaced by James LoMenzo.

The album Fight to Survive was eventually re-recorded with the new line-up and released in Japan by RCA Records in 1984. The small US independent label Grand Slam Records finally released Fight To Survive in the US on November 9, 1985.[4] A few months later, Grand Slam Records wentbankrupt.

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

In early 1986, White Lion, with a fictitious female member (portrayed by Louise Robey), had a brief part in the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long movie The Money Pit.


Early in 1987, the band was signed by Atlantic Records 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 asAerosmithOzzy OsbourneStryper 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.[6] Pride would remain on the Top 200 Billboard album charts for a full year, selling two million copies in the US alone achieving double platinum status.[7]

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 they immediately began work on their next album.

Big Game & Mane Attraction

In August 1989, White Lion released their third album, Big Game, a musically eclectic follow-up to Pride that featured the singles “Little Fighter” (which peaked at No. 52), “Cry for Freedom” (did not chart), and a cover of Golden Earring‘s “Radar Love” (which peaked at No. 59). The album quickly went gold, with a peak of No. 19 on the album charts.[8] The band’s success continued with more constant touring.

After two years of writing and recording, White Lion released Mane Attraction in the summer 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. Unfortunately, the album failed to reach the top 20 like the last two albums, charting at No. 61 on The Billboard 200.[9] It received little or no airplay due to the recent Grunge explosion. 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 for the album. 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“.

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 drummerJimmy DeGrasso (MegadethAlice CooperSuicidal TendenciesY&TFiona). 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 bands music videos was also released, titled Escape from Brooklyn.

After White Lion

Mike Tramp went on to form the Hard Rock band Freak of Nature, releasing three albums between 1992 and 1998, Freak of NatureGathering of Freaks, and Outcasts. Following Freak of Nature Tramp moved to Australia and between 1998 and 2004 released four studio albums and one live album as a solo artist: CapricornRecovering the Wasted YearsMore to Life Than This, andSongs I Left Behind as studio efforts, with Rock n’ Roll Alive as a live album.[10]

James LoMenzo and Greg D’Angelo joined Zakk Wylde‘s band, Lynyrd Skynhead, in the mid 90’s which became the band Pride & Glory when Greg D’Angelo was replaced by Brian Tichy. 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 and toured with Zakk Wylde’s band Black Label Society. In February 2006, James joined the thrash band Megadeth on a permanent basis. Greg D’Angelo was the drummer for the band AntiProduct in 2006. Greg D’angelo recently joinedGreg Leon Invasion featuring Greg Leon (formerly of Dokken and Quiet Riot).

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 Mike sold all his rights to the catalogs in the mid 90’s. They are owned by Vavoom Music, Inc., which is owned by Bratta.

The new White Lion and legal issues

In 1999 Mike Tramp, with all new musicians, 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 October 2003, Tramp announced a White Lion reunion with the original members. 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. 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”.[11]

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 2005, Mike Tramp organized another group of unknown musicians and attempted to continue with a new White Lion under the act Tramp’s White Lion, this however did not stop the persistant legal issues with former members. Despite all the issues ‘TWL’ (aka White Lion 2) played and re recorded White Lion songs, touring and releasing a double-live CD entitled Rocking the USA in 2005. In 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.

In 2006 Anthology 83-89 album was released which featured 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.[12]

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.

White Lion: recent activities

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.[13]

In response to the rumors surrounding 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 Vito’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 bands 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. Extremley upset with the decision Tramp acknowledges the many fans across the United States who are also extremely disappointed by Live Nation’s decision.[14]

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 RiotSlaughterY&T, Gypsy Pistoleros, Dirty Penny, Greg Leon Invasion and Zendozer. Tramp also confirmed to MelodicRock.com that the band has just finished recording its new studio album and The CD will be mixed by Dennis Ward and will be titled “Return of the Pride”.

A 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.[15]The band did a world tour to support the album. White Lion toured India and played to 42,000 at ShillongMeghalaya, 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.[16]

A live DVD was released on December 5, 2008 entitled Bang Your Head Festival 2005.[17]

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. In 2011 Tramp released the solo album Stand Your Ground featuring the singles “Distance” and “Hymn To Ronnie,” a tribute song to formerHeaven & Hell and Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who died on May 16, 2010.

Band members

Current members
Former Members
  • Vito Bratta – guitars (1983–1992)
  • Nicki Capozzi – drums (1983–1984)
  • Felix Robinson – bass (1983–1984)
  • Dave Spitz – bass (1984)
  • James LoMenzo – bass (1984–1991)
  • Greg D’Angelo – drums (1984–1991)
  • Tommy T-Bone Caradonna – bass (1991–1992)
  • Jimmy DeGrasso – drums (1991–1992)
  • Kasper Damgaard – guitar (1999–2005)
  • Dan Hemmer – Hammond B-3 organ (1999–2005)
  • Nils Kroyer – bass (1999–2005)
  • Bjarne T. Holm – drums (1999–2005)
Classic line up


• 1985 – Fight to Survive
• 1987 – Pride
• 1989 – Big Game
• 1991 – Mane Attraction
• 2008 – Return of the Pride

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s