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ZZ Top Books

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment
  • “ZZ Top: Bad and Nationwide” (1985)
  • “ZZ Top” by Mitchell Craven (July 1, 1985)
  • “ZZ Top” by Philip Kamin (March 3, 1986)
  • “ZZ Top” by Robert Draper (July 1, 1989)
  • “Elimination: The ZZ Top Story” (December 1, 1991)
  • “Sharp-Dressed Men: ZZ Top Behind the Scenes from Blues to Boogie to Beards” (May 1, 1994)
  • “ZZ Top: Elimination” (June 1, 1998)
  • “ZZ Top Greatest Hits” (July 1, 1999)
  • “The New Best of Zz Top for Guitar (Easy Tab Deluxe)” (July 1, 1999)
  • “ZZ Top / XXX (Authentic Guitar-Tab)” (March 1, 2000)
  • “ZZ Top – Guitar Anthology” (February 1, 2003)
  • “Essential ZZ Top” (April 2003)
  • “The Very Best of ZZ Top” (April 1, 2003)
  • “The Best of ZZ Top: A Step-By-Step Breakdown of the Guitar Styles and Techniques of Billy Gibbons” (September 1, 2003)
  • “Billy F. Gibbons: Rock+Roll Gearhead” (October 15, 2005).

ZZ Top History

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Formation

The players who would comprise ZZ Top had been in different Texas-based groups, most notably the Moving Sidewalks with Gibbons, and American Blues with Hill and Beard. American Blues also featured Dusty’s brother, the late Rocky Hill on guitar and vocals. By 1969, these groups had disbanded, and the three musicians started ZZ Top. At first, Billy invited Frank for his project, a blues-rock foursome. Needing a new bassist after Everett Bradshaw left, Beard suggested his former band mate, Joe “Dusty” Hill, and the nascent band stayed a trio.

The origin of the band’s name was not officially known for many years, but rumors abounded: a hybrid of two popular brands of rolling paper, Zig-Zag and ‘Top’; a tribute to blues legend Z. Z. Hill; and Billy Gibbons perhaps witnessing the two words running together on a dilapidated billboard. The current version of the story—as told by Billy Gibbons and recorded in his book Rock + Roll Gearhead–is derived from the name of blues guitar master B. B. King. The band originally wanted to call themselves Z.Z. King, but thought it seemed too similar to their hero. They thus figured that “King” was also at the “top”, and so settled on ZZ Top.

ZZ Top played their first show in February, 1970, and toured Texas almost continuously for the next several years. Upon signing a contract with London Records, the first two albums, ZZ Top’s First Album and Rio Grande Mud, were made at Robin Hood Studios in Tyler, Texas.

In January 1973, ZZ Top opened for The Rolling Stones three shows in Hawaii. They also began recording with engineer Terry Manning at Ardent Studios in Memphi. The resultant third album, Tres Hombres (1973), was the first for which the band gained a million-seller and wide acclaim. Hombres featured ZZ’s classic hit “La Grange,” written about the Chicken Ranch, a famous La Grange, Texas bordello (that was also the subject of the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). Other album cuts like “Waitin’ for the Bus” and its immediate follower “Jesus Just Left Chicago” became fan favorites and rock-radio staples.

By September 1974, ZZ Top was drawing tens of thousands to shows such as the Labor Day stadium concert in Austin, dubbed “ZZ Top’s First Annual Texas-Size Rompin’ Stompin’ Barndance and Bar-B-Q.” Also on the bill were Santana, Joe Cocker, and Bad Company.

A photo of the 1974 crowds was used on the record sleeve of Fandango!, released in 1975. The album—half studio material and half live document—spawned the infamous hit “Tush” as well as “Heard It on the X”, a paean to Mexican border-blaster stations whose call sign began with X. The band continued touring heavily in 1976, releasing Tejas and the single “Arrested for Driving While Blind”.

By 1977, after hefty touring and recording schedules, ZZ Top drifted into an extended and unplanned hiatus. Manager-producer and overall image-meister Bill Ham used the time to negotiate a recording deal which allowed the band to retain rights to their catalogue on London Records, which would then be distributed by their new label, Warner Bros. Records.

ZZ Top reunited in 1979 for live shows and a new album, Degüello, under their new Warner Brothers contract. Unbeknownst to each other, Hill and Gibbons had both grown out their now-famous beards. (The only beardless band member remained the mustachioed Frank Beard.) The album displayed a strikingly minimalist approach to the ZZ Top sound. Along with Gibbons’ clean guitar and the sparse Hill-Beard rhythm section, Deguello sported saxophone harmonies courtesy of Gibbons, Hill, and Beard—touted as the “The Lone Wolf Horns”—and yielded famous hits such as “Cheap Sunglasses” along with a cover version of Isaac Hayes’ “I Thank You”.

Eliminator and the 1980s

ZZ Top started out the 1980s with an eclectic mix of songs on El Loco, released in 1981. The album featured the band’s first use of synthesizer and incorporated unusual electronic effects. Singles stayed in the previous ZZ good-time vein, however, such as “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Party on the Patio”.

Billy F. Gibbons and Dusty Hill in 1983.

Billy F. Gibbons and Dusty Hill in 1983.

By late 1983, with the telling release of Eliminator, ZZ Top had undertaken a complete artistic reinvention both in sound and image. Eliminator featured a darkly innovative and distinctive synthesizer-laced sound which wove into and augmented the band’s guitar-bass-drums formula, a rarity in the blues-rock genre. Beard also played most songs to a click track, maintaining a metronomic rhythm to synchronize with the electronic instruments.

The album’s sound was distinctive in other ways. To obtain the signature overdriven Eliminator guitar tone, Gibbons devised the “amp cabin”, a collection of guitar amplifiers surrounding a microphone. Gibbons also employed the use of the Rockman headphone amplifier invented by Tom Scholz of the rock band Boston. He has repeatedly stated in years since that he plays guitar with a peso coin instead of a traditional guitar pick. Ridiculously, rumor had it that Gibbons and Hill used melted-down Cadillac fenders for guitar strings.

With the advent of MTV, ZZ Top promptly embraced the phenomenon of the music video and boosted itself to new popularity with video releases of “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man”, each featuring the band’s new icon: a cherry-red 1933 Ford Coupe hot rod nicknamed The Eliminator. The comical videos featured a trio of mysterious, sexy women who roam around and rescue people from seemingly dire situations, along with an iconic Billy, Dusty, and Frank, who seem to appear out of nowhere and grinningly proffer keys to the Eliminator.

The ZZ Top sound now featured a modern, electronic, and danceable formula which won the band new fans and multi-million-dollar success in sales, radio and video play, and live tours. Eliminator remains ZZ Top’s most successful album to date.

The band’s next album, 1985’s Afterburner, expanded Eliminator’s use of synthesizers coupled with blues-rock rhythms. The ZZ Top sound now incorporated the use of sequencers, notably on the hit singles and videos “Sleeping Bag”, “Rough Boy”, and “Velcro Fly”. The Afterburner album cover (and “Sleeping Bag” video) now portrayed the Eliminator as a hot-rodded version of the Space Shuttle and the band as a space-station lounge act in “Rough Boy”.

In 1987, Warner released the three-disc set ZZ Top: Six Pack, a collection of ZZ Top’s albums from 1970 to 1981 (minus 1979’s Degüello). The first five albums, however, were remixed—perhaps controversially—by the label (along with ZZ Top) in order to make them sound more like the band’s most recent (1980s) works. The drum tracks had digital reverb added, lyrics were changed (such as the last verse of “Mexican Blackbird”) on several songs, and in order to fit six albums on three discs, some tracks (such as “Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell” from Rio Grande Mud) were edited or ‘faded out’ sooner than their original versions. At the same time, individual CD releases were released of these albums which also contained these remixed versions. Degüello, however, was spared the revisionist treatment because the album was temporarily taken out of print due to a legal issue involving the Elmore James song, “Dust My Broom”, which was covered on the album.

The 1990s

Recycler, released in 1990, was ZZ Top’s last studio album under contract with Warner Records. Recycler was also the last of a distinct sonic trilogy in the ZZ Top catalogue.  The collection actually marked a return towards the earlier, simpler guitar-driven blues sound with less synthesizer and pop bounce of the previous two albums. This move did not entirely suit the fanbase that Eliminator and Afterburner had built up, and while Recycler did achieve platinum status, it never matched the sales of Eliminator and Afterburner. The cartoonish and sexy-ZZ-girl videos continued in singles like “My Head’s in Mississippi”, “Give It Up”, and “Burger Man”.

ZZ Top also contributed a song, “Doubleback”, and appeared as an acoustic band in the wild-west dance scene in the 1990 movie Back to the Future Part III. The band also appeared in the 1990 TV movie Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme, portraying the Three Men in a Tub.

In 1992, Warner released ZZ Top’s Greatest Hits along with a new Rolling Stones-style cut “Gun Love” and an Elvis-inflected video, “Viva Las Vegas”.

In 1993, ZZ Top inducted a major influence, Cream, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band then signed to a five-album deal with RCA Records, releasing the million-selling Antenna in 1994. Subsequent RCA albums, Rhythmeen (1996) and 1999’s XXX (the second album to feature live tracks) sold well, but did not reach earlier standards. ZZ Top, however, continued to play to enthusiastic live audiences.

In 1997, ZZ Top recorded a song for amateur wrestler Nicholas “Wild Thing” Bauer at the request of WWE star “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

2000 and beyond

In 2003, ZZ top released a final RCA album, Mescalero, an album thick with harsh Gibbons guitar and featuring a hidden track- a cover version of “As Time Goes By”. RCA impresario Clive Davis wanted to do a collaboration record (in the mode of Carlos Santana’s successful Supernatural) for this album. In an interview in Goldmine magazine, artists Pink, Dave Matthews, and Wilco were among the artists slated for the project.

Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto

Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto

A comprehensive four-CD collection of recordings from the London and Warner Bros. years, Chrome, Smoke & BBQ, was released in 2003. It featured the band’s first single (A- and B-side), several rare B-side tracks as well as a radio promotion from 1979, a live track and several extended dance mix versions of their biggest MTV hits. Three tracks from Billy Gibbons’ pre-ZZ band, The Moving Sidewalks, were also included.

In 2004, ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones gave the induction speech. ZZ Top gave a brief performance, playing “La Grange” and “Tush.”

Expanded and remastered versions of the original studio albums from the 1970s and ’80s are currently in production. Marketed as “Remastered and Expanded,” these releases include additional live tracks which were not present on the original recordings. Three such CDs have been released to date (Tres Hombres, Fandango!, and Eliminator). The first two were released in 2006 and use the original mixes free from echo and fake drum machines, while “Eliminator” was released in 2008. The Eliminator re-release also features a collector’s edition version containing a DVD featuring several videos and additional live tracks.

As of 2006, it was reported that ZZ Top were recording their 15th studio album. There was no release, however, and on September 17, 2006, the band ended their tenure with RCA Records and further left their manager Bill Ham, president of Lone Wolf Management. No reasons were publicized for these changes. In December 2006, Sanctuary Management added ZZ Top to its roster.

The band was honored by Billy Bob Thornton at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors on May 24, 2007. Nickelback performed a rendition of Sharp Dressed Man as an introduction. The same show also included Ozzy Osbourne, Genesis and Heart.

ZZ Top’s most recent high-profile appearance was a performance at the 2008 Orange Bowl game in Miami. They also performed in 2008 at the Auto Club 500 NASCAR event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

On May 21, 2008, ZZ Top played their song “Sharp Dressed Man” with the winner of American Idol Season 7 David Cook on the American Idol Finale. On June 12-14, they performed at Bama Jam, outside of Enterprise Alabama. On June 12, 2008, they performed on the main Coca Cola Stage at the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee in front of an estimated crowd of 125,000.

On June 23, 2008, ZZ Top celebrated the release of their first (official) live concert DVD entitled Live From Texas with the world premiere, a special appearance and charity auction at the Hard Rock Cafe Houston.   The DVD was officially released on June 24, 2008. The featured performance was culled from a concert filmed at the Nokia Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas on November 1, 2007.

In 2008 ZZ Top co-headlined Brooks & Dunn’s Cowboy Town Tour, for the summer.

Recent news

In July 2008, the band announced they have signed with producer Rick Rubin and are recording a new album.  Rubin will be producing the next album, and it has been reported that the band will be aiming to move back to their pre-80’s La Grange sound.

The Eliminator Collector’s Edition CD/DVD celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band’s iconic RIAA Diamond Certified album was released September 10, 2008. The release includes seven bonus tracks (five of which are previously unreleased live cuts from 1983) and a bonus DVD (including the four concept videos originally associated with the album and four live performances from a 1983 British television program).

On the 19th of February 2009 it was announced ZZ Top will be making an appearance at the Download Festival held annually at Donington Park.

On April 9, 2009, Aerosmith announced that ZZ Top will be accompanying them on their upcoming tour of their new album, although the latter part of the tour was canceled August 14, 2009 due to Steve Tyler’s back injury on August 6, 2009.

On May 17, 2009 ZZ Top headlined the MMRBQ at the Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ.

In July 2009 the band appeared on VH1’s “Storytellers”, in celebration of their four decades as recording artists.

On July 20, 2009, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw as the special guest hosts.

On September 25, 2009, ZZ Top played at Singapore’s Fort Canning Park as part of the F1 Rocks Tour. The bill included N.E.R.D., Simple Minds, and No Doubt.

White Lion Discography

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Studio albums

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
USA CAN
[1]
NOR
[2]
SWE
[3]
SWI
[4]
UK
[5]
1985 Fight to Survive

  • Release: November 9, 1985
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD
151
1987 Pride

  • Release: June 21, 1987
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD
11 44 30 2× Platinum (RIAA)[6]
Platinum (CRIA)[7]
1989 Big Game

  • Release: August 10, 1989
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD
19 28 14 13 16 47 Gold (RIAA)
1991 Mane Attraction

  • Release: July, 1991
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD
61 23 11 31 250,000 (US)
1999 Remembering White Lion

  • Release: October 5, 1999
  • Label: Cleopatra
  • Formats: CD
3,000 (US)
2008 Return of the Pride

  • Release: April 29, 2008
  • Label: Frotiers Records
  • Format: CD

Live albums

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
USA CAN
2005 Rocking the USA

  • Release: November 8, 2005
  • Label: Frontiers Italy
  • Formats: CD

Compilation albums

Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
USA CAN
1992 The Best of White Lion

  • Release: September 15, 1992
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD
150,000+ (US)
2004 Anthology 83-89

  • Release: 2004
  • Label: Cleopatra
  • Formats: CD
2007 The Definitive Rock Collection

  • Release: 2007
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD

Singles

Year Song Peak chart positions Album
USA USA MR CAN
[8]
SWE
[9]
UK[10]
1985 “Broken Heart” Fight to Survive
1987 “Wait” 8 18 48 88 Pride
1988 “Tell Me” 58 25
“When the Children Cry” 3 7 53 7 88
“All You Need is Rock ‘N’ Roll”
1989 “Little Fighter” 52 12 65 Big Game
“Radar Love” 59
1990 “Cry for Freedom”
1991 “Lights and Thunder” 95 Mane Attraction
“Broken Heart” #2
“Love Don’t Come Easy” 24
2008 “Dream” Return of the Pride
“Live Your Life”

Videos

Year Title Description
1988 Live at the Ritz

  • Release: 1988
  • Label:
  • Format: DVD/VHS
Concert filmed at the Ritz in New York City, NY.
1988 One Night in Tokyo

  • Release: 1988
  • Label:
  • Format: DVD/VHS
Concert filmed in Tokyo, Japan.
1991 Escape from Brooklyn

  • Release: 1991
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Format: DVD/VHS
Music videos, behind the scenes interviews with band members.
2005 Concert Anthology 1987-1991

  • Release: 2005
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Format: DVD
Collection of concerts from 1987 to 1991.
2008 Bang Your Head Festival 2005

  • Release: December 5, 2008
  • Label: Frontiers Records
  • Format: DVD
Prefomance at the 2005 Bang Your Head Festival in Germany.

Music videos

Year Title
1985 “Broken Heart”
1988 “Wait”
“Tell Me”
“When the Children Cry”
1989 “Little Fighter”
“Radar Love”
1990 “Cry for Freedom”
1991 “Broken Heart”
“Love Don’t Come Easy”

White Lion Band members

July 21, 2009 1 comment

Current members

  • Mike Tramp – lead vocals (1983–1991, 1999–present)
  • Jamie Law – guitars (2005–present)
  • Troy Patrick Farrell – drums (2005–present)
  • Henning Wanner – keyboards (2005–present)
  • Claus Langeskov – bass (2005–present)

Former members

  • Vito Bratta – guitars (1983–1991)
  • James LoMenzo – bass (1984–1991)
  • Greg D’Angelo – drums (1984–1991)
  • Nicki Capozzi – drums (1983–1984)
  • Felix Robinson – bass (1983–1984)
  • Dave Spitz – bass (1984)
  • Dan Hemmer – Hammond B-3 organ (1999–2005)
  • Kasper Damgaard – guitar (1999–2005)
  • Nils Kroyer – bass (1999–2005)
  • Bjarne T. Holm – drums (1999–2005)

Touring members

  • Tommy T-Bone Caradonna – bass (1991)
  • Jimmy DeGrasso – drums (1991)
  • EJ Curse – bass (2008)

Classic line up

  • Mike Tramp – lead vocals
  • Vito Bratta – guitars
  • James LoMenzo – bass
  • Greg D’Angelo – drums

White Lion Social issues

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Social issues

Unlike most bands of their genre, White Lion recorded occasional songs that addressed social or political issues such as apartheid (“Cry for Freedom”) 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 illegally 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.

After White Lion

Mike Tramp went on to form Freak of Nature. Freak of Nature released three albums, Freak of Nature, Gathering of Freaks, and Outcasts. Mike Tramp went on as a solo artist. He has released four studio albums and one live album so far; Capricorn, Recovering the Wasted Years, More To Life Than This, and Songs I Left Behind as studio efforts, with Rock n’ Roll Alive as his sole live album. Today, Tramp continues his solo career, recording and releasing his own music. Through his website, fans can find media from his solo career, as well as White Lion.

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 legendary thrash band Megadeth on a permanent basis. Greg D’Angelo was the drummer for the band AntiProduct in 2006. Greg D’angelo Recently Joined Greg Leon Invasion featuring Greg Leon (ex Dokken, ex 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. Sadly, despite a very dedicated worldwide following of guitar aficionados, Vito was not seen or heard from publicly since 1994 until his interview by Eddie Trunk live on February 16, 2007.

The new White Lion and legal issues

Mike Tramp today

Mike Tramp today

In 1999 Mike Tramp with new musicians released Remembering White Lion also released as The Last Roar and Ultimate White Lion which featured new versions of some of White Lion’s classic songs and then in October 2003, Mike Tramp announced a White Lion reunion with the original line up. 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 revealed that despite his willingness, “There will never be an original White Lion reunion”.

In 2005, with legal battles finally out of the way, Mike Tramp again organized a group of unknown musicians and named the act Tramp’s White Lion. ‘TWL’ (White Lion 2) played White Lion songs, touring and releasing a double-live CD entitled Tramp’s White Lion: Rockin’ The USA. 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. The UK dates with Crimes of Passion were abandoned due to illness.

On February 16, 2007, Vito appeared on “The Eddie Trunk” radio show in New York, stating that despite what Mike Tramp said, he had never turned down any offer to reform White Lion or refused a White Lion reunion, stating that what Mike Tramp had said was not true, but, rather, that at the time Mike had approached him, Vito’s father was sick and dying and he could not leave him to do a reunion tour at that time. 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 also made it clear that Vito’s involvement in the show was something that he had wanted to happen since White Lion first broke up in 1991. Vito took calls and answered questions from fans for almost 3 hours. On Friday April 6 and 7, 2007, at the L’Amours Reunion Shows in New York (the club that made White Lion), Vito made his first public musical appearances at both Friday and Saturday night’s shows in over 15 years. Mike Tramp was not present.

Three weeks later Mike Tramp called the same show from Australia, speaking about Vito 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 Vito had finally answered fan’s questions, the same questions he himself had been bombarded with 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.

A White Lion Definitive Collection album was released in 2007. Summer of 2007 Tour featuring Tramp’s White Lion opening up for Poison and Ratt was canceled after threatened legal action by Bratta caused them to be dropped by the promoter.

This threatened legal action however did not stop the band from appearing at Rocklahoma in Pryor, Ok on July 13, 2007 with Poison, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Slaughter, Y&T,Gypsy pistoleros, Dirty Penny, Greg Leon Invasion and Zendozer. After this they also toured the US. A new studio album entitled “Return of the Pride” was released on March 14, 2008. The band are currently on a World tour to support the album. Also a live DVD was released on December 5th, 2008 entitled, “Bang Your Head Festival 2005”. White Lion toured India by the end of December and played to perphaps their biggest show after they reformed at JN Stadium, Shillong, Meghalaya where 42,000 fans turned up to watch them play. They also played to a 30,000 plus capacity crowd at the Dimapur stadium in Nagaland. The band was invited to India by the Current head of the Tripura Royal Family Maharaja Kirit Pradyot Deb Burman.

White Lion History

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Fighting to survive

After moving from Denmark to New York in 1983, vocalist Mike Tramp (ex-Mabel,ex-Studs) met Brooklyn guitarist Vito Bratta (ex-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.

White Lion was signed by Elektra Records in 1984 and recorded their debut Fight to Survive. However, Elektra was unhappy with the final recording, and after refusing to release the album, terminated their 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 new line-up & picked up by RCA and released in Japan in 1984. The small US independent label Grand Slam records finally released Fight To Survive in the US on November 9, 1985. A few months later, Grand Slam records went bankrupt.

In early 1986, White Lion, with a fictitious “female” member, had a brief part in the Tom Hanks/Shelley Long movie The Money Pit.

The road to success

Early in 1987, the band was signed by Atlantic Records (which ironically is a sister label to Elektra) and on June 21, 1987, their breakthrough album, Pride, was released. The first single, “Wait”, was released on June 1, 1987, but did not make waves 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, KISS and 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 #8 on the singles chart, while Pride hit #11 on the album charts. Pride would remain on the top 200 Billboard album charts for a full year.

In August 1988, the album’s second single “Tell Me” hit #58. Around the time this single was released, White Lion played at the Ritz club in New York City. Like Guns N’ Roses, Great White and a few others before them, White Lion’s show at the Ritz was filmed and later aired on MTV.

The Pride album’s third single, a gentle acoustic ballad titled “When the Children Cry”, made it all the way to #3 with heavy MTV rotation, making Pride one of about 20 hard rock albums to ever have multiple top 10 hits.

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.

In the spring of 1989, the Pride tour finally ended, but rather than take a break, they instead chose to record the next album, a decision the group later came to regret due to the effects of fatigue from heavy touring on the final product.

Life after MTV

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 #52), “Cry for Freedom” (did not chart), and a cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” (which peaked at #59). The album quickly went gold, but without a hit single, slowly declined, with a peak of #19 on the album charts.

After two years of writing and recording, the new album, Mane Attraction was released. During the recording sessions for this album, their record company allowed the band to make exactly the album they wanted to. As a result, the album is usually viewed as a mixed effort, where the band is trying to do too many things at once. The album charted at #61. This may also be due to the general public’s shifting tastes towards grunge.

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). After briefly touring in support of Mane Attraction, Tramp and Bratta decided to call it a day, their last show being held in Boston at the Channel in September 1991.

Velvet Underground Discography

July 21, 2009 Leave a comment
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
  • White Light/White Heat (1968)
  • The Velvet Underground (1969)
  • Loaded (1970)
  • Live at Max’s Kansas City (recorded 1970, released 1972)
  • Squeeze (1973)
  • 1969: The Velvet Underground Live (double album, recorded live 1969, released 1974)
  • VU (recorded 1969, released 1985)
  • Another View (recorded 1967-69, released 1986)