Through his fretboard heroics with glam metal icons White Lion, Vito Bratta became a legend of the guitar world and a standout player in the age of the Guitar God, wielding any number of ESP models with frightening effect.
On stage, such instruments became synonymous with Bratta, who was also partial to playing a Steinberger GM2S, a '75 Les Paul Custom, and a mid-'70s Ibanez Destroyer.
But, behind the scenes, such gear choices weren’t always the norm in the studio – instead, for White Lion’s 1987 LP, Pride, Bratta swapped out some of his own rig for something else entirely.
In the latest issue of Guitar World, Bratta took a trip down memory lane to discuss and dissect some of his most accomplished White Lion solos, but drew particular attention to the lead effort found in All You Need is Rock ‘n’ Roll – which was, at it turns out, recorded with one of Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocasters.
“If you want to talk about a good solo from Pride, I’d point you toward All You Need is Rock ’n’ Roll,” he said. “I recorded the entire solo for that song with Jimi Hendrix’s black Stratocaster.”
As for how he managed to get his hands on Hendrix’s six-string, Bratta explained, “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.
“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,” he continued “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 per the Jimi Hendrix Archives, the Strat in question is most likely to be the one that Hendrix gifted to Kooper in 1968, after the latter helped record some piano overdubs on Electric Ladyland’s Long Hot Summer Night.
In 1997 – around a decade after Bratta used it on Pride – the Strat went up for auction with an estimated sale price of $280,000, though failed to sell following a $160,000 bid that failed to meet its reserve price.
But Hendrix’s Strat wasn’t the only piece of high profile gear that made it onto All You Need is Rock ‘n’ Roll – he also drafted in a guitar amp once played by Mountain’s Leslie West.
“I was plugged into an old Marshall, but it wasn’t the same one from [White Lion’s debut album] Fight to Survive,” he teased. “But Pride was an old 100-watt Marshall, and you’ll never guess whose it was.
“I used Leslie West’s 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.”
Naturally, the experience proved to be particularly thrilling for Bratta – even if he was “too young to grasp it fully” – with the White Lion virtuoso going on to reveal he still owns West’s Mountain Marshall.
“So I’m a kid with Jimi Hendrix’s Strat plugged into Leslie West’s Marshall,” he reflected. “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.”
Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Guitar World, which features the full interview with Vito Bratta.
Guitarists owning amps that once belonged to their heroes is a common occurrence in the upper echelons of the guitar world. Last year, John Mayer revealed he was in possession of the Dumble that Stevie Ray Vaughan used to record Texas Flood.