Whatever Happened to White Lion?
Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the hair metal band White Lion and whatever happened to them. Featuring the songwriting duo of Mike Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta the band was known for hits like “Wait” and “When the Children Cry.” Check out the full story below!
White Lion was a band that shined brightly for a few years, before crashing and burning. In fact, some members would vanish into obscurity.Frontman Mike Tramp would perfectly summarize the band’s career to Louder Sound saying words, “the rise of White Lion was like climbing a ladder with a rocket up your ass! Today we’re going to talk about the history of the band White Lion White Lion came up during a time when hair metal dominated the rock scene. While a lot of these bands had origins in Los Angeles or within California, White Lion didn’t follow the same formula. Part Danish and American, the band formed in New York City. The group would be led by Danish singer Mike Tramp who prior to forming White Lion was in a band named Mabel back home which played teeny bopper music.
Soon enough, Mabel found a lot of success in denmark and spain. In fact the band would represent Mabel Denmark at the 1978 Eurovision song contest, but they would finish 16th of out of 20 competing teams. The band would move to Spain and it was during this time Tramp grew tired of the band’s pop friendly sound and wanted refine their sound to be more like van halen and ac/dc, bands which had a big impact on Tramp After changing their sound, Mabel would become the Studs. Hoping to grow their popularity, the band moved to America in the 80’s where they underwent another name change now going by the Danish Lions.
Sadly, they would fall flat in America and the band’s members would head back home to Europe, but Tramp opted to stay in the States. It was during Tramp’s time in Danish Lions in America in 1982, that he met guitarist Vito Bratta who was on the same bill that night playing in a different band. Following the dissolution of Danish Lions, the pair assembled a band named White Lion. Despite their musical talents, it became apparent from the start that the two musicians had very different work ethics, despite their musical talent. Tramp would tell Loudersound “I was the engine that made Vito move Vito lived with his parents on Staten Island, and he never lifted a finger to make any money. If he drove to my place in Queens, I’d have to give him $10 for gas” he’d say. They pair quickly assembled a band and the group’s future looked promising as they would soon sign with Elektra Records, but the band hit a snag when the label was less than impressed with their debut album Fight to Survive and opted not to release it.
Tramp would tell Loudersound that he believed that Elektra had already signed Motley Crue and Dokken to their label and White Lion’s music felt too similar. Elektra records soon cut their losses and the band were quickly dropped. The band’s manager though worked out a deal that saw the album only released in Japan. And soon enough the European Press showered their debut album with praise. While the band struggled to land a record deal, they still had opportunities coming in. They would appear in the Steven Spielberg produced movie The Money Pit, which starred Tom Hanks and they would appear as a fictional band in the film. Producer Peter Hauke reached out to the band in late 1986 inviting them to come to Germany to record their follow up album. Tramp would tell Loudersound “We already had the title for the album – Pride. And we had some great new songs, like Wait and Hungry. But something got lost in the recording. When we got back to New York and we played the finished album, we just knew it wasn’t good enough. And at that point, we really didn’t know what to do” he’d say. “We really thought that we were finished,” Ironically it would be another German producer who rescued the band. Producer Michael Wagener, was on a hot streak having worked as a producer and mixer on several high profile groups records including Metallica, Motley Crue and Dokken.
Wagner ended up hearing the music the band was working on in Germany and got in touch with White Lions management and wanted to re-record the album.