Personalities | Vito Bratta | White Lion’s Legend | Guitar Heroes

When 1980s hair-metal band White Lion released the video for their breakthrough hit ‘Wait’ in 1987, guitar fans saw arguably the second coming of Eddie Van Halen.

Guitarist Vito Bratta brought forth tasty rhythm-guitar parts, masterly single-note technique, and above all, a two-hand tapping technique that, while in the style of Van Halen, found a new direction and thus provided Bratta with his own identity.

Born in Staten Island, New York in 1961, Bratta took up the guitar at the age of 12. Five years later, he heard Van Halen, and it changed his world for ever. Prior to joining White Lion, Bratta played in a New York band called Dreamer, where he earned the respectful nickname ‘Vito Van Halen’, for his own amazing tapping technique.

In 1983, Bratta teamed up with Danish singer Mike Tramp and formed White Lion, releasing their debut album, Fight To Survive (1985), on Grand Slamm Records. After several personnel changes in their rhythm section, the band signed a major-label deal with Atlantic Records in 1987 and released Pride. The single ‘Wait’ exploded on MTV, and White Lion was quickly thrust into the spotlight. But their biggest success would come more than a year after the album’s release, when the tender acoustic ballad ‘When The Children Cry’ would take the band to the top of the hair-metal genre. For Bratta, the exposure brought well-deserved recognition for his instrumental prowess. He also received critical acclaim as a guitarist whose playing had substance and direction in an era of ‘guitar wars’ repetitiveness. He further set himself apart via his preference for a Steinberger guitar, while his contemporaries remained primarily in the Charvel, B.C. Rich and Kramer camps.

The band’s follow-up album, Big Game (1989), while a commercial success, didn’t measure up to the expectations set by Pride. They released one more album, Mane Attraction (1991), before caving in to the onrushing winds of grunge music in 1992. In 1995, Bratta decided to take a break from the instrument he had played every day since the age of 12, finally picking it up again in 1997, only to experience a wrist injury that would prevent him from playing again for several years.

Essential Recordings

White Lion: Fight To Survive

White Lion: Pride

White Lion: Big Game

White Lion: Mane Attraction

Personalities | James Burton | Pickin’ Master | Guitar Heroes


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