How Metallica + ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ Almost Killed Winger’s Career Forever

Remember winger? The group was seemingly on top of the world in the late ’80s and early ’90s, right at the height of hair metal’s dominance, but it wasn’t grunge that signaled their downfall. In a recent interview with Ryan Roxie, Winger guitarist Rope Strand point to two significant media presences that definitely influenced their public perception, shouting Beavis and Butt-Head and Metallica.

As many fans will recall, Winger’s rise coincided with heavy airplay on MTV. Videos for “Seventeen“”On the road to heartbreak“and”Miles away” was among the network’s most requested clips of the day. But while MTV played a role in their rise, it also had a hand in their downfall with the airing of Beavis and Butt-Head, with the two animated teenagers who talked smack or heaped praise on music videos. In the show itself, one of the supporting characters was a kid named Stewart who was often seen wearing a Winger T-shirt and often rejected by the teenage duo.

Speaking to Roxie (as heard in the podcast below), Beach revealed that although it was meant for humor, the continued use of Winger’s logo with Stewart and his family on the show affected public perception of the band. He explained (as transcribed by Ultimate guitar), “Absolutely, it did [affect us], huge. In fact, we were on the road and we were selling out theaters. We were on the bus and this kid said, ‘Hey, you guys have to watch this cartoon. I brought you a VHS of it.’ And then we put this thing on the bus… In the cartoon, they hung this kid from his underwear from a tree. He was wearing a Winger T-shirt and he was overweight… His name was Stewart and he was in every episode. And then they went to his house and his parents were wearing Winger T-shirts and the dog was wearing a Winger T-shirt and they were all geeks [laughs].”

“We actually saw a direct result of that thing,” Beach adds. “In the weeks that followed, we had to cancel the tour because people wouldn’t get killed buying a ticket to a Winger show.”

Enter Stewart Beavis and Butt-head

Beach then called out Metallica for also taking their shot through a music video. “Metallica didn’t help showing in their biggest video [in which] they’re throwing darts at a Kip Winger poster,” the guitarist said, referring to the “Nothing Else Matters” clip. “They wanted to show it at their live show, and my friend who went to see them said the whole arena was laughing the part of the video where Lars throws arrows at Kip.”

Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters”

Between the two very public jabs, the band had become something that was now mocked, and the group saw a direct correlation to their touring returns. “I sold all my guitars, 20 guitars,” Beach recalled. “I just bought a house in Florida, sold it – I was only there for 10 months – moved back to Pittsburgh from Florida, which I wish I didn’t have to do. And it was a really tough time.” Winger eventually disbanded in 1994, a year after releasing their third album Drag for reduced returns.

But Beach was able to find a new gig, with Kip Winger’s help, and eventually became part of Alice Cooper’s touring band. “Kip told me that Alice [Cooper] was auditioning people and I didn’t have enough money to get there. So Kip loaned me $500 so I could fly out and I could buy something cool to wear. I admit I was nervous as a cat for the audition,’ he recalls.

Beach has since gone on to play with Dokken and Whitesnake, later reuniting with Kip Winger alongside Dug Pinnick and Kelly Keagy in the 2005 one-off The Mob. More recently, he has also worked with Black Swan and released a 2020 solo album, View from inside. Kip Winger, meanwhile, has released several solo albums, including material that ventured into classical music. He has also composed music for theatrical productions and has reunited his self-titled band, releasing three more records.

Reb Beach talks along In the trenches with Ryan Roxie

Top 30 Hair Metal Albums

Related Posts