(This page last updated: 10 May, 2013)
Kip Winger, circa 1990
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I'm not at all certain he'd be pleased to hear me say it, but I think Kip Winger is quite possibly one of the hunkiest men ever to become a rock star. However, in the next breath--and I know this would please him--I also have to add that he's an incredible musician, singer, and songwriter, and it was really the music that first reached out and grabbed me. In fact, I bought the Winger album In the Heart of the Young when I was in high school because I had the riff from "Easy Come, Easy Go" stuck in my head and it just wouldn't leave!

That album was really my introduction to Kip and his bandmates; somehow I missed all the big hits from their first, self-titled CD. But while I really liked their music, at that point, they were completely under, or, perhaps more accurately, over my radar visually. This was just about the time that I finally gave up on MTV, but I do remember seeing the videos for "Easy Come, Easy Go," "Miles Away," and "Can't Get Enuff" a few times apiece. However, my reaction to them was really more to the music than the visuals; particularly with "Can't Get Enuff," I remember thinking that the song was pretty good, but the video somewhat off-putting. And, unfortunately, Winger was yet another casualty of the emerging grunge movement, and I had other bands to obsess over, so after a while, I kind of forgot about them.

Now fast-forward ten years. My new hubby and I were living in an apartment complex that piped a satellite TV feed into all of its apartments, and one day we got a letter saying our channel lineup had been extended, and one of the new additions was something called "VH-1 Classic Rock." Well, I turned it on--and fell in love. Here were all of those great videos that I remembered from my teens, plus a lot that I'd never seen before, even though I knew many of the songs from radio or CDs I'd bought. (And we made sure to choose a digital cable package that included VH-1 Classic when we moved into a house of our own!) Anyway, we were watching over dinner one evening when this video came on, and I said to myself, "Oh, Winger, I remember them--but I don't recognize that song title." Then Kip appeared, in all his leather-trousered, tank-topped, smoldering-eyed glory, and all I could think was "OMG" ... particularly when it registered what instrument he was holding. All that, and he played bass, too? swooning emoticon

The video in question was "Seventeen," and a couple of weeks later, we also saw "Headed For A Heartbreak"--and I was down for the count. I could scarcely believe that someone so talented could also be so good-looking, and how in the world had I managed to completely miss what a hunk Kip was all that time? But I've since come to the conclusion that I simply wasn't capable of appreciating him as such, the first time around; I had been rather sheltered as a child and young teen, and at fourteen and fifteen, my tastes were still evolving. As astonishing as it might sound, at that point I still viewed black leather with a certain amount of suspicion, and the raw sexuality of someone like Kip Winger was, quite frankly, just too much to handle. It took a few more years before the whole hard rock/glam metal thing began to have any kind of significant appeal. (Though I daresay I've more than made up for lost time!)

On a more serious note, however, I do actually enjoy the music just as much as the scenery. I have all three vintage Winger albums now, and Kip's two solo albums are on my "to buy" list. Winger did seem to struggle a bit to find their own sound at first; the debut album is more metal, the subsequent two more progressive-rock oriented, though the one thing that never changed was that their music was always more layered and intricate and technically sophisticated than a lot of other, similar bands. The debut album is and probably always will be my favorite, however--not that the other two were bad albums, quite the opposite. But precisely because they're so good, ITHOTY and Pull don't make good "background music." They demand to be listened to, kept at the forefront of one's attention. And since I'm usually doing something else at the same time I'm listening to music--writing, or working on stuff for this site, or whatever--that does make it a bit difficult to have Winger on as often as some other bands that I can listen to with half an ear.

Kip himself is a fascinating person, though, and rather like his music: full of unexpected depths. It's interesting--he's known all over the world as "Kip Winger," but his full moniker is actually the far more impressive "Charles Frederick Kip Winger." (He says that his mother named him Charles Frederick "in case I ever wanted to get a real job." laughing emoticon ) But that little factoid does sort of typify him as a person--the world has tended to see just the tip of the iceberg, namely the whole pin-up thing, and ignore everything else. And I'll admit that I was guilty enough of that for a while; it used to be that when I looked at pictures of Kip, the grin was so blindingly brilliant that it was difficult to see the shadows behind those intensely blue eyes.

But I know better now. At heart, Kip is a man who takes himself and what he does very seriously indeed, and he has a positively uncanny penchant for what's almost a kind of clairvoyance. He has said of the song "Headed For A Heartbreak," from Winger's debut CD, that, "It's actually very--what's the right word--very something. Cryptic is the word I want to use, but I don't like the connotation. It's depicting my life right now. When I wrote the song a year and a half ago, it's like a predicition into my life right now, which is really kind of weird. It was just like something I beamed into the future." There is also a lyric in the song "Blind Revolution Mad," from Pull: "And the nation's glued to CNN / To watch their own creation." The song was written in 1992 or 1993, but to me it seems like an eerie foreshadowing of events such as the Columbine High shootings and the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The most heart-wrenching instance of this, though, has to be the music video for "Hungry," another song from the debut CD. Kip scripted it himself, and it's about a man who loses his wife in a car accident--and Kip lost his own wife, Beatrice, in a car accident in 1996, just before the release of his first solo album. Now, it could be coincidence, or simple perceptiveness. But Kip describes himself as a very melancholy person, and I can't help thinking about all the fantasy novels I've read with a character weighed down to solemnity by visions of the future...

Favorite Songs & Videos
Favorite Songs: "Seventeen"
Just a bit of fun... winking emoticon
I find the video a bit difficult to watch (kinda touches a raw nerve in a way...) but I do like the song by itself
"Without The Night"
Great power-ballad
"Time To Surrender"
This just rocks, plain and simple
"Headed For A Heartbreak"
A sort of pointer in the direction that Winger went on their second album... great track
"Can't Get Enuff"
One of the more lighthearted tracks off ITHOTY
"Miles Away"
I think this might have been the first Winger song I ever heard...
"Easy Come, Easy Go"
The riff STILL tends to stick in my head! laughing emoticon
"Under One Condition"
"The Rainbow In The Rose"
Am I the only one who gets vague but compelling visions of some kind of sweeping sword-and-sorcery epic whenever I listen to this song? (I could be just weird, that way...)
"Blind Revolution Mad"
Raw-edged but very cool
"Down Incognito"
This is probably my favorite track off Pull
"Spell I'm Under"
Kip wrote this for his wife, Beatrice... rather bittersweet to listen to now, but still a nice song
Favorite Videos: "Seventeen"
The video that re-introduced me to Winger after a long absence, and I still need a cold shower after watching it... burning emoticon
"Headed For A Heartbreak"
Beautifully filmed... the muted colors and soft-edged photography make Kip look even yummier than usual... drooling emoticon
"Can't Get Enuff"
This was the video that made me realize how very, very blue Kip's eyes are... sigh...
Favorite Kip Winger Quotes

[on making the video for "Madelaine"] "...I broke out in hives at the end of it. Nerves. Serious Spinal Tap. My hair was way too poofy."

[on the video for "Seventeen"] "We had to search and destroy to find the right girl... she did good."

"The only thing that will keep you in the game is good music. That doesn't mean your music will be hit music. There's a difference between quality and 'instant fix music,' as I call it. A trendy thing for the minute, then gone."

"I could be the guy who married the two sides of image and music together. We could be U2 meets Barry Gibb!"

laughing emoticon (Though I feel compelled to point out that Bono is a pretty sexy fella, and there's far more to Barry Gibb than a white disco suit...)

"I'm one of the more tormented people on the planet; so even if I seem to be clicking into one of my good moods, it's usually my way of getting me away from a deep depression."

[on the In The Heart Of The Young album] "The album is about marrying the spirit of youth with understanding and intelligence. It might sound cliche, but we believe music can help in some small way, because it's truly the only language that speaks to all people."

"A lot of people say I have three different distinct moods, and goofy is definitely one of them."

"It's hard to write lyrics. You have to write about something you can sing, and make it believable. I couldn't get up and sing [Guns and Roses'] 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' and Axl [Rose] probably couldn't get up and sing 'Without The Night.'"

Perish the thought... nobody else can do "Without The Night," and particularly not Axl Rose...

"Though Mr. Winger was functioning on very few hours' sleep, thanks to an underwater video shoot that ended at 5 AM, he's full of Kip-isms--meaning that he adopts British accents, uses words like 'stud' and 'kill' and breaks into song at a moment's notice."
--Katherine Turman, from an article in RIP magazine

[on his background in dance] "Ballet is about sex! It's very animalistic. People don't realize it, but as a dancer you get in touch with every single muscle in your body--especially, ha ha ha. Well, you spread your legs a lot! Your body becomes your whole instrument. It's very sexual, and every dancer who has ever gotten big in ballet is very sexual. Rock 'n' roll is sexual. That's the reason I've stayed with ballet. To reach peaks in ballet is much, much harder than any other kind of dance. I like that. That's the kind of person I am."

"I love that Backstreet Boys Millennium album. The first two songs ["Larger Than Life" and "I Want It That Way"] just crush me. I don't really like pop music, but when I do... it's that kind of total pop--no excuses pop."

Okay, I feel a lot better about liking the Backstreet Boys now! laughing emoticon

"You kind of forget when you're in a studio, demoing songs, that the end result is playing in front of twenty thousand people and chicks throwing their bras."

"A lot of people are really bogged down with the way I look--mostly the girls. We have a pretty big percentage of males now, too. The girls are looking, too, but they're also listening. Once I transcend that--where the girls don't hang me up on their walls just because of how I look, I'll be happier. I'd rather be hung up on somebody's wall because they're into music."

Speaking from a personal perspective--how about some of both? I love music, but I also definitely appreciate a fine bit of eye-candy... winking emoticon

[on the Pull album] "It didn't sell much. It was dead in the water. That's why I called it 'Pull,' because when you go shooting, you shout 'Pull!' It was a joke for the title of that album."

"We've been out there with groups like the Bullet Boys who really know how to have a good time. We're really boring in comparison. But we all have our moments, and when you meet some of those young girls backstage after a show it becomes really tough to be the nice guy you know you want to be. I guess that's one of the things that 'Seventeen' is about. Those girls might be young, but they know what they want--and they know how to get it."

"A lot of people who don't have a lot of talent, their ego fills that void of non-talent, so their ego is huge. But the more you develop your talent, the less your ego has to fill up... the king sh*ts of everybody are always the nicest people."

How profound--and true. I've seen a good example of this principle just recently, actually, though I shan't name names...

"I don't know if I have a dark side really, but I'm definitely kind of melancholy and very, very serious. I handle it by being the court jester most of the time. But people who know me well can see through that and know what's really going on. The music is like that, too. It's technically complex. It's not happy, sad, or angry, just kind of melancholic at times. I carry the weight of what people are thinking about this band very much on my shoulders. People are starting to... well, for the lack of a better word, mob us. I tend to take that very seriously and think: What am I actually saying to these people? I can't say, 'Oh, f*ck it, it! It's just a party. Let's all drink, get f*cked-up and rock 'n' roll!' That's just not how I am."

"I have no interest in a nice car or a big house. All I want is studio equipment and to continue working. I see myself as someone like Frank Zappa, although I'm not the towering genius that he is. But I feel a kinship to him and people like Peter Gabriel who sit and work. I'm drowning in my own ideas. Whether they're good or bad is for the public to decide, but it's my job to make sure they hear it."

"...I'm a Maltese personality. Either I'll want to be totally alone, or I'll be doing the butt dance. I'll be the clown or the totally heavy cerebral weirdo who wants to be locked up with a piano."

Kip Winger's Astrological Sign

Date of Birth: 21 June, 1961

Western Zodiac: Gemini/Cancer (Air/Water)
Chinese Zodiac: Ox (Earth)

Despite being on the cusp between signs in the Western zodiac, I really don't see too much Cancer in Kip Winger; he's far more a Gemini, with all of that sign's skill with words. As for the Chinese side, I don't think I've ever seen a more typical Ox; driven, serious, thoughtful, and tenacious.

The Chord & Sorcery Angle

If Kip Winger were a character in a fantasy novel, he would be:

Hmm... I can see him as a scholar-mage, or something along those lines--the King's most trusted advisor. Or perhaps a performer, a bard or actor, who secretly uses his gift of Foresight to keep his troupe out of trouble... thoughtful emoticon

The fantasy/period outfit I would most like to see Kip Winger model is:

Something befitting a ranking courtier, I think... silk shirt, velvet doublet... not hose, though; the leather pants work too well to get rid of. winking emoticon

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