He was born in 1961. He formed White Lion in 1983, with Mike Tramp. He was 22 years old at the time.
Before White Lion he was in Dreamer from 1980 to 1983, a band that featured future Tyketto drummer Michael Clayton. White Lion came to be in the following way as told by Mike Tramp in Rockeyez;
As I mentioned above, MABEL had turned into STUDS and played hard rock, I had become the leader and we went to the States and became LION. In November ’82, we played L’amour’s with DREAMER, which was Vito’s band. People started talking that he and I should play together. When Lion ended its reign in December and went back to Denmark. I returned to NYC in March and looked up Vito. The rest is history.
White Lion picked up a deal, got dropped and then released the Fight To Survive album independently in 1985. It wasn’t until 1987 that people noticed White Lion and the talents of Vito. The Pride album was massive. The tour that followed, opening up for AC/DC was even bigger.
It was seven years playing in bands, before the world took notice of Vito’s abilities.
If any young guitarist or songwriter is looking to have a career in the music business, you need to be ready to put in the time. Don’t be fooled by The Voice, Idol and XFactor. Those shows are all about ratings and the now. The term artist, career and longevity do not exist in these shows. The ones that end up making it, don’t even win.
Big Game followed in 1989 and Mane Attraction in 1991.
The label gave them a big advance for Mane Attraction. White Lion delivered with a killer album.
The label didn’t know how to market it.
An audience still existed for White Lion music. The Hard Rock or Glam Rock movement, became a niche market, replacing the position that Grunge held before it became the darling of the mainstream.
So what does the label do, market it against grunge. I never stopped listening to hard rock music in the nineties. To be honest, i hated the grunge movement, however it benefited me the most.
I know it’s a contradiction, how can something that i hate, benefit me? Easy. Instead of spending money on new music, I started hunting out all the second hand record shops and started picking up vinyl from the seventies and eighties rock music. I had a lot of money to spend, and spend it i did. I was a Guitar World, Guitar School, Guitar for the Practicing Musician (which then became Guitar and then Guitar One) subscriber, so if i came across transcriptions in those magazines from the newer bands that was cool to play i would check it out. Those magazines became my filter.
Months after the Mane Attraction release, Vito and Mike just called it quits. After sticking it out for so long, it was over. The band was already split, with James Lomenzo and Greg D’Angelo leaving to be replaced by Tommy Caradonna and Jim Degrasso.
Mike Tramp continued with Freak of Nature. Vito on the other hand, went home. He had enough. He spent his whole life to become a master virtuoso on the guitar.
He spent his whole life perfecting his art. It brought him fame. When it came, he just walked away from it. He was 30 years old.
Mike Tramp described the ending like this;
We never got a chance to say goodbye to the fans. We never got a chance to make a statement to the press. White Lion was playing the last show and Vito and I just went to the airport — I went to California and he went to New York — and we just said… We didn’t even look at each other. And it wasn’t that we were fighting. And the interesting thing… [People say] ‘Well, why shouldn’t you carry on?’ [But we got] no call from the record company, no call from the managers, no call from the merchandising company… All these people were making millions of dollars off us. It’s like we just disappeared. There was never any closing. So it’s taken me many years to really understand what the fuck happened here.”
The below was from another interview that Mike Tramp gave on why White Lion ended on the famous interview website.
Why couldn’t you have done in “White Lion” what you’re now doing as a solo artist? And, why did “White Lion” have to break-up?
A – It’s almost like I’m going to have to answer the last question first. Even though there’s two people in there writing the songs, the 80’s were a phenomenal decade. Unfortunately, most people wanted to be rock stars, instead of trying to build a longevity. That includes the manager and the record co. Nobody, after the first record succeeded, really was concerned about what the band was doing and where the band was heading. The concern was really how quickly can we get the next record out and how can we get on the next tour. As things like that happen, you start to get the negative things. The second record does not have the same numbers, as the first. We don’t have the same hit on the second one. By the time you get to the third album, the band is not the same band that started out in the basement of Brooklyn, New York. We’ve been influenced by money. We live in four different places. I live in California. Vito lives in Staten Island. And the other guys are scattered somewhere else. When we try to catch up on the third and final record, it becomes a rescue mission, instead of a true and honest record from a band. So much money is put into it, it’s bound to fail. The record co. I think has basically let go of the band, because they have signed the next two follow-up bands, to White Lion. And, at that time, there’s no hope. Mike Tramp would not be able to make the decision and write the lyrics in 1988 when everything was 200 girls backstage between every show, big tour buses and big arenas. You write those lyrics when you sit in your little house, and the phone doesn’t ring and no friends are coming around. You get into what I call my own little war room, where you create, and bring out your true feelings.
Money is where the innocence ends and the arguments start.
I believe Vito wanted to come back with a new band. Vito said in the Eddie Trunk interview that it was hard for him to write songs for another band that wasn’t White Lion.
Other interviews I had heard, showed Vito being not too happy about the music business and how they (the people around them) where exploiting White Lion to make millions, while the band would make less than what their accountants made.
Any chance of coming back took a back seat, as he became a carer for his parents. This time Vito, couldn’t just leave his home and tour, without knowing what he would be paid. With age, comes a different mindset. Priorities are different.