I had the pleasure of seeing four great bands back-to-back in the late summer of 2021: Autograph, Winger, Warrant, and Skid Row. This article is going to focus on Kip Winger and the immense challenges he has overcome in his personal and professional lives, and what we can all learn from his journey.
When Kip Winger was a teenager in Denver, Colorado, he started taking ballet lessons in an effort to get closer to a girl (ah, the things boys do for love!), and fell in love with the performance art and classical music. And apparently his love of classical music has never left him because he ended up writing a musical tribute called Conversations with Nijinsky about the Russian ballet dancer, who at the age of 29, had his career cut short due to his battle with schizophrenia. Kip Winger’s tribute to the dancer has been performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and of course, we all remember seeing Kip perform ballet moves in his rock videos and on stage during his younger years.
When Winger was a young adult, he opted to pursue a career in music, and he was hell bent on achieving this career goal. And of course, Kip Winger’s dream came to fruition because he willed it so. When we have confidence in ourselves, and when we value ourselves and tell ourselves that failure is not an option, we often succeed. And if we don't succeed at that particular venture, or at that particular time, we will succeed later on if we just keep a positive mindset and don’t resist where we’re being led. Not knowing Kip Winger personally, I obviously cannot speak for him, but it just seems to me, that if I'm connecting the dots here, that he potentially had this “do or die” mindset of reaching his goals.
Well, here is where it gets interesting. Remember the television program created by Mike Judge called Beavis and Butt-Head from the 1990s? Although the show was a cartoon, it was created for adolescents and adults, and included a character named Stewart. Stewart was a nerd whom Beavis and Butt-Head, the protagonists of the show, bullied and ridiculed. Stewart always wore a Winger t-shirt, and for some weird reason this character wearing a Winger t-shirt influenced the American public into associating the band Winger with nerdiness and all things negative. Not only was this completely unfair, but it was also insanely irrational, and it is part of the reason why Winger’s popularity took a nose-dive. Simultaneously in the early 90s, grunge and alternative music that was coming from the Pacific Northwest, specifically Seattle, was squeezing out the hard rock and glam rock of the 80s because society's taste in music was changing. This perfect storm of Beavis and Butt-Head and grunge music caused the rug to be pulled out from under Winger. In one interview that I read Kip Winger asked, “What do you do when that happens? Now, suddenly, your livelihood is taken away from you?”
And Kip Winger is right: What does one do in that situation when one’s entire career is driven right over the cliff’s edge with no previous warning? ANSWER: You keep moving forward, just like Kip.
Unfortunately, around this same time, Kip Winger lost his new, young wife in a tragic car accident. So here he is with his whole life turned upside down and inside out. But to Kip Winger’s credit, he started studying classical music and doing other things to help diversify his career and get his life back on track.
I would be remiss if I didn’t address the whole “rockstar” phenomenon, meaning that many people erroneously think that famous musicians have it easy and that everything goes their way, but this is false. They have worked very hard for what they have and are in an industry that doesn’t always support their best interests, so these guys and gals have to constantly look out for themselves and question the intentions of others. Most of them have experienced failed relationships at some point, and some of them have struggled with addiction and are in recovery, which is a one-day-at-a-time situation. Easy life? Nope. These musicians face the same challenges as the rest of us.
Winger has an album titled Karma and karma is such a fascinating concept. Some religions and philosophies believe that if you're having a difficult time in this life, it's most likely because you're carrying karma over from past lives that you're trying to resolve. When you lose everything, you don’t have a choice but to really look at yourself and devise a plan to course-correct. When things are going smoothly in our lives, we tend not to do the work on ourselves because we don’t feel that we have to…but when our lives start to go off the rails, we are forced to evaluate and re-evaluate, and those who opt not to self-evaluate end up repeating patterns and cycles that keep them stuck.
And of course, the universe is one big scale that is constantly trying to balance itself, so if you treat yourself and others with a lack of respect, compassion, and understanding, then that is exactly what you are going to receive from others and life in general.
My personal story is that I’ve had a tremendous amount of karma to balance and major life lessons to learn. I was raised in an abusive home, have survived serious illnesses, been challenged in personal relationships (understatement!), lost several people whom I loved fiercely far too early, and so on. I used to think that these things were happening to me until I learned that they have happened for me…in an effort to help me learn about myself, evolve, and live a more purposeful life.
Kip Winger has reinvented himself and has been able to move forward. And that is what I hope for you…that no matter how challenging or trying your situation is, you look for the positive and that you keep striving to be the best YOU possible, and to live the life that you are meant to live.
We all have 24 hours in a day. How are you living yours? Live consciously!