Break up leaves 'new' White Lion looking for direction

Sound check

August 22, 1991|By Nestor Aparicio | Nestor Aparicio,Evening Sun Staff

It is not at all unusual to hear about major rock acts having disharmony from within.

Such groups as Poison and Ratt have risen to the top of the business with careers littered with internal struggles and bickering -- what you might call artistic differences.

The surprise comes when band members throw money, success and reputation out the window and actually split up.

White Lion, a multi-platinum band whose 1987 hits "Wait" and "When the Children Cry" are still played regularly on the radio, had just released its third album, "Mane Attraction," in late spring when the internal strife hit a boiling point while on tour in Europe.

"We just couldn't agree on anything," said singer Mike Tramp. "We called it 'artistic differences' but it always comes down to one thing -- money. We [Tramp and guitarist Vito Bratta] were writing all of the songs, and when you get publishing, you get more money. It's as simple as that."

So on June 11, bassist James Lomenzo and drummer Greg D'Angelo left the band. On June 13, Bratta and Tramp replaced them with drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Y&T and Fiona) and bassist Tommy "T-Bone" Caradonna (Alice Cooper, Lita Ford).

"There was no audition, no rehearsals," said Tramp, whose "new" White Lion will appear at Hammerjacks Sunday night. "We knew them and we had seen them play. All it took was a couple of phone calls."

At the time, the band's first single, "Love Don't Come Easy," was climbing the charts and getting heavy airplay on radio and MTV. Suddenly, two months and two members later, the band can't buy a song rotation on MTV and sales for "Mane Attraction" are waning.

"We're not getting any help from the record company," said Tramp, whose band is on Atlantic Records. "We're getting screwed every single day. The label seemed happy with the changes in the band, but they aren't doing their jobs. We want off the label so we can have a chance to be heard again."

The early hope for "Mane Attraction" was that it would put White Lion on an arena tour by Christmas. Instead, with a soft hard rock touring market and the band's poor early showing, White Lion is doing club dates and isn't sure where it's headed after this first leg of the American tour ends in September.

The concert calendar:

Merriweather Post Pavilion welcomes Bad Company and Damn Yankees (tonight), Mikhail Baryshnikov (tomorrow) Paul Simon (Saturday), Charlie Daniels and Juice Newton (Sunday), Ziggy Marley (Monday), The Allman Brothers and Blues Traveler (Tuesday) and Diana Ross (Wednesday).

Pier Six Pavilion has Bebe and Cece Winans (tonight), Los Lobos and Mary Chapin Carpenter (tomorrow), Robert Cray (Saturday), Frankie Valli and Chubby Checker (Sunday), Ricky Skaggs (Tuesday) and Michael Feinstein and Rosemary Clooney (Wednesday).

The Capital Centre offers Gloria Estefan (Wednesday), Luther Vandross, Lisa Fisher, Sinbad and Sounds of Blackness (Sept. 17 and 18) and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Chris Whitley (Sept. 24).

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