Beavis & Butt-Head had a massive impact on pop culture following their debut in March 1993. Unfortunately for Winger, the dynamic animated duo also signaled an end to their career.
Former Winger guitarist Reb Beach touched on this in an interview on the In the Trenches podcast. When asked about whether Beavis & Butt-Head led to Winger disbanding in 1994, Beach said, “Absolutely, it did, hugely. As a matter of fact, we were on the road and we were selling out theaters. We were on the bus, and this kid said, ‘Hey, you guys got to see this cartoon. I brought you a VHS of it.'”
Beach continued, “And so 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 Stuart, 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 nerds [laughs].”
He added, “And so, we actually saw a direct result of that thing. In the weeks that followed, we had to cancel the tour because people wouldn’t be caught dead buying a ticket to a Winger show.”
Beach details what he went through as a result. He said, “I sold all my guitars, 20 guitars. I just bought a house in Florida, sold that – I was only there for 10 months – moved back to Pittsburgh from Florida, which I wish I didn’t have to do. And that was a really rough time.”
Beach’s next gig was playing in Alice Cooper’s touring band, but that almost didn’t happen. He recalled, “Kip [Winger] told me that Alice [Cooper] was auditioning people, and I didn’t have enough money to get there. So Kip loaned me 500 bucks so that I could fly out and I could buy something cool to wear. I admit that I was nervous as a cat at the audition.”
Of course, there was a force before Beavis & Butt-Head that helped turn the tide against Winger: Metallica. The band famously featured Lars Ulrich in the video for “Nothing Else Matters” throwing darts at a Kip Winger poster. (The clip is also featured in the 1992 documentary A Year and A Half with Metallica.)
“Metallica didn’t help with showing in their biggest video they throw darts at a poster of Kip Winger,” said Beach. “They would show it at their live show, and my friend who went to see them said the entire arena laughed at that part of the video where Lars throws darts at Kip.”