From bandeau singer to classical songwriter, Colorado native Kip Winger finds a new audience

RED CLIFF, Colo. (KDVR) — They were the stars of MTV 30 years ago: glam rockers whose careers rose higher than their heavily sprayed hair. And few of its kind weighed bigger than Kip Winger.

Winger was born in Denver and briefly attended Golden High School before embarking on a music career that would soon see him selling millions of albums and playing sold-out arenas all over the world.

“They love you, they hate you. They love you, whatever,” Winger joked to FOX31 during a recent interview ahead of a little acoustic gig at Mango’s Mountain Grill in Red Cliff, Colorado.

Along with friends and brothers, Winger formed a series of musical groups that would eventually evolve into the headband that bore his name.

“We got signed, we got the album, we put it out and it’s been dead for about six months. Nothing happened. Six months after the record died, MTV picked it up and it was really took off,” Winger said.

The group had huge hits with songs like “17”, “Headed for a Heartbreak” and “Miles Away”. They were on top of the music world for a few years, until the music world suddenly changed. Almost overnight, grunge music took over MTV. Headbands were dead and Winger went from power ballads to punchlines.

“The name was like totally toxic overnight. I lost my recording contract, I lost my publishing, no agent hired me. The name was toxic,” Winger said.

It was then that Winger’s music took an unexpected turn. A lifelong classical music fandom, nurtured during his days of ballet lessons in a Denver studio, led him to become a composer.

“I was nominated for a Grammy in Classical Composition (in 2016),” Winger said. “It was the best way to come back from Metallica throwing darts at you and Beavis and Butthead making you the geek guy.”

Just last week, Winger’s “Symphony Number One” had its world premiere with the Nashville Symphony.

These days the hairspray is gone – but he’s still playing headband hits, both on tour with his original band and in smaller acoustic gigs like the one he recently played at Red Cliff. .

And even 30 years later, there are plenty of Winger fans who still love what they hear.

“It’s great that they (us) continue to support us. I mean we’ve been doing this all this time, and I’ve never had to go get a live gig. It’s a good thing, because I was a bad waiter. Terrible server,” Winger joked.

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