Guitarist Vito Bratta, who was a member of the 1980s glam metal band White Lion, revealed that one of Jimi Hendrix’s old Fender Stratocasters appeared on the band’s sophomore album. Titled “Pride,” the record came out in 1987, gaining favorable reviews and achieving chart success at the time.
While talking to Guitar World, White Lion’s Vito Bratta says that the song called “All You Need is Rock ‘n’ Roll” from the “Pride” album features a guitar solo that was recorded using one of Jimi Hendrix’s Strats. He revealed this while discussing White Lion’s best lead guitar parts, mentioning the song in the process:
“If you want to talk about a good solo from ‘Pride,’ I’d point you toward ‘All You Need is Rock ’n’ Roll.’ I recorded the entire solo for that song with Jimi Hendrix’s black Stratocaster.”
When asked how he ended up getting his hands on Jimi’s old Fender Stratocaster, Bratta said that it was through musician Al Kooper who’s also known for working with Hendrix and recording piano on “Long Hot Summer Night” on the guitarist’s “Electric Ladyland” album. Bratta offered:
“There’s a keyboard player called Al Kooper, who played with everybody, including Hendrix. Hendrix gave Al Kooper his black Strat somewhere along the way, so he had it.”
Explaining how this actually happened, Vito said that it all happened just because he didn’t have a neck position pickup on his guitar:
“Al was working with us in the studio on ‘Pride’ and was listening to me practicing the ‘All You Need is Rock ’n’ Roll’ solo. I guess he realized I didn’t have a neck pickup in my Strat, and suddenly, Al goes, ‘Hold on, Vito, let me get you something.'”
“He leaves, comes back and pulls out Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. I knew what it was the second I saw it, and again, I’m just a kid, so I’m in awe of this thing. So Al goes, ‘Plug it in. Play it, Vito.'”
“Long story short, I used Hendrix’s black Stratocaster to record the solo for ‘All You Need is Rock ’n’ Roll.’ When I listen back to the record, I can hear the classic Hendrix sound all over that song.”
As Guitar World further adds, there’s no certain way to confirm which exact Strat Vito is talking about. However, it’s known that Hendrix gifted one of his Stratocasters to Kooper.
The last thing we know about this one is that, back in 1997, the guitar went on auction but failed to sell, reaching only $160,000 instead of the expected minimum of $280,000 (via The New York Times). Hendrix had more than one black Strat in his collection and not all of them are easily identifiable and traceable.
According to Bratta, however, there was another interesting piece of history in this song. Apart from the guitar, he used an amplifier previously owned by another legend:
“I was plugged into an old Marshall, but it wasn’t the same one from [White Lion’s debut album] ‘Fight to Survive.’ But ‘Pride‘ was an old 100-watt Marshall, and you’ll never guess whose it was.
“I used Leslie West’s [Mountain guitarist] 100-watt Marshall. But not just any old Leslie West Marshall; it was his favorite. This was the same amp he used to record all those classic Mountain songs.”
As Vito further adds, he was simply “too young to grasp it fully” what he was actually using on this record. But looking back at it now, it does seem like a pivotal moment. And not only that — Vito actually owns this Leslie West’s old amplifier:
“So I’m a kid with Jimi Hendrix’s Strat plugged into Leslie West’s Marshall. I’m proud to say I still own that amp. But it was so crazy that I was almost waiting for Jimmy Page to stroll in and say, ‘Hey, do you need any of my gear, too?’ It was just crazy.”
Although achieving success back in the day, White Lion ended up as most of the 1980s and early 1990s glam metal bands. Not exactly “fading into obscurity” as the expression is often applied to the 1980s bands, they were still known among metal and hard rock fans, even after their disbandment in 1992.
The band’s vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mike Tramp went on to have a solo career. In 1999, he reunited White Lion with a new lineup which didn’t include Vito Bratta, which lasted until 2013. At this moment, it’s believed that Bratta is the sole owner of the rights to White Lion’s first four albums.
In an interview from earlier this year, Tramp said that it’s highly unlikely that White Lion will ever reunite. Despite being friends with Bratta, he pointed out that the guitarist hasn’t been active since 1991:
“White Lion will, of course, not get back together. We would have done it 20 years ago. Vito has not been in a studio or on a stage since ’91. Him and I are friends, we share certain things, and we don’t go any deeper than that.”
He then added:
“You know what? Since no one else is gonna say it, I don’t believe a White Lion reunion would be better than the original White Lion were back then. We’re not the kind of a band that should get back together and represent 1988 because the band would not do like I do, which is mature the songs. The band would go out and try to play them note for note. And I have already changed the keys of these songs to be able to sing them also as a grown man, et cetera, et cetera.”
“And I also don’t wish my mom and dad rise from the grave and get back together. That life is done.”
Photo: Public domain (Jimi-Hendrix-1967-Helsinki)