White Lion co-founder Vito Bratta said he was moved to tears when he met Eddie Van Halen after the pair discussed accusations of Bratta being a sound-alike.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, the guitarist confirmed that he was heavily influenced by Van Halen but that he was also offended by the suggestion that he was simply copying the late legend.
“This was the guy that taught all about what technique was,” Bratta said. “Like a lot of the kids around me back then, I used to sit in my room and practice for hours. I’d work on muting my strings, so I didn’t wake anybody up, and then I read that Eddie said he did the same thing, so I was like, ‘OK, that guy’s cool.’ … He forced me to say to myself, ‘How do I elevate my technique?’”
Once he found success with White Lion, however, Bratta started being negatively compared to Van Halen. “I got a lot of shit from people who said I was aping his style,” he said. “That was all bullshit. It got to the point where I met Eddie once, and I asked him, ‘Does it freak you out that I play like you?’ I thought that because it had been drilled into my head by magazines and stuff.”
The meeting took place during White Lion’s studio sessions for their 1991 album Mane Attraction. “Eddie complimented me and said that he didn’t agree,” Bratta noted. “Eddie said a lot of nice things to me that day, and I’ll take them to my grave. But I’ll tell you this: I was touched enough to where I had to leave the room, go to the bathroom and cry. That might make me sound like a dick, but after being told I sounded like him, that I was copying him, and all this shit, it meant a lot to hear that he liked what I did and that he respected it.”
Bratta also explained that Van Halen wasn’t his main influence; instead, that honor goes to Jimmy Page. “Page is what led me down new paths,” he explained. “While you probably don’t hear it in my playing on the surface, Jimmy Page is what carried me through White Lion, and even into today. … Without him, I don’t know where I’d be.”
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