Starting the band from the ground up and achieving a certain level of recognition are often considered the hardest parts of being a musician; however, the ending of history together is also challenging regarding how to move on from the thing that took over the majority of an artist’s life.
In this case, for White Lion, Mike Tramp and Vito Bratta started their journey as a glam metal band in New York City in the early 1980s. The band did very well for themselves, starting with their debut album ‘Fighting to Survive.’ The follow-up album ‘Pride’ was their breakthrough in the industry as singles like ‘Wait’ and ‘When the Children Cry’ became hits on the charts alongside the album reaching double platinum.
White Lion was riding a high, and that high continued for two more albums with ‘Big Game,’ which reached Gold, and their fourth album, ‘Mane Attraction,’ which had a supporting tour. Even though everything was seemingly going well, Vito and Mike decided to disband the band after briefly touring for their last album.
During that time, the music scene was changing, which was expected as one genre couldn’t stay the most popular forever. The metal scene was taken over by grunge, which became the ‘it’ thing to do with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. The once popular bands, including White Lion, that was in glam and hair metal, were slowly becoming irrelevant even on MTV.
When White Lion called it quits, Tramp initially blamed their record company’s lack of interest in their band, the troubles with their management, and mainly the rise of grunge. They were not the only band that blamed Cobain and grunge for their sales drop and inability to continue what they had built over the years.
However, several years later, in an interview in 2014, the vocalist responded differently when Mike was asked the same question about why White Lion disbanded. Although he had blamed Cobain for shaking up the scene by bringing grunge, he more so put the blame on them as bandmates for not fighting for White Lion and immediately giving up.
Mike Tramp’s words about the White Lion disbandment read:
“This is one of the very, very few funny moments I have had with Vito Bratta since the ending of White Lion. He called me and said he liked it and hoped one of the guitar players would break their hand so he could come to play with me. I was shocked because it sounded like Vito and I were not 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 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.”
So the initial call of ‘no more White Lion’ that Mike assumed was not going to happen and that he and Vito would continue to play together turned into the acceptance of the scene changing and them not wanting to evolve with it. So if they had an honest conversation between the two of them discussing their wrongdoings instead of putting all the blame on Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, maybe White Lion would still be an existing band with a list of albums to show for it.