From the late 80’s into the early 90’s Winger built momentum and became an overnight sensation, in part thanks to heavy rotation of their videos on MTV, which at that time, actually showed music videos. Winger’s debut album went platinum in the U.S. After a successful first album, the band then released “In The Heart Of The Young” and once again the band received solid radio airplay and heavy video rotation on MTV. With the second album going platinum and touring with the likes of KISS, Scorpions, Extreme, Cinderella & more, the band was growing in popularity, even while glam metal was starting to lose it’s hold on the charts.
Ironically, MTV which had made Winger a household name, would also be the catalyst for ousting the band from the realm of coolness at the time. Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead animated cartoon was centered around two heavy metal loving morons who wore t-shirts with AC/DC and Metallica on them. Their job was to take MTV videos and make fun of the bands in them, as well as criticize almost everyone and everything while lacking the I.Q. of a small squirrel themselves.
One of the characters on the show was “Stewart” a simpleton looking kid who always wore a Winger shirt. In short, Winger was deemed a band that was safe. A band for wussies. While AC/DC and Metallica were the real deal for metal. Once the show got started regularly airing episodes with a boy many would consider a mama’s boy, wearing the band’s shirt, Winger seemed to go from hero to zero almost overnight. I had a chance to meet Kip Winger somewhere in the mid 90’s after Winger had broken up. He was doing acoustic shows for his solo career. I asked him if he had seen “Beavis and Butthead’s portrayal of the kid in the Winger shirt, to which he replied rather unhappily, ….yes. He rolled his eyes at the question, but I honestly couldn’t blame him. I wasn’t trying to insult him in any way, but ask his thoughts about it. When I asked if he thought the show was responsible for ruining Winger’s rise, he replied with a simple “Well, it sure didn’t help us any”. Kip was a good sport about it, but you could tell that he was obviously not happy with the band’s portrayal on the show. I’ve heard that years later, both Kip Winger and Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge have buried the hatchet and made peace. While people today talk about the power of the media, it’s interesting ( and unfortunate for Winger) to think that the cultural phenomenon of Beavis and Butthead could have derailed a band’s career path with poking fun at them along with some simple teasing.
Incidentally, Winger reformed and have been making solid rock albums ever since.
You can check out the band at the links below: