The Hair Metal Singer Who Turned to Classical Music

The Hair Metal Singer Who Turned to Classical Music


(metal music) – The year is 1988; big
hair and denim are in. (“Seventeen” by Winger) The ultimate lead singer
in hair metal, Kip Winger, and his band are at the top of the charts. But the party that seemed
like it would never end suddenly came crashing down. (birds singing) No air play, no singles, nothing. But it turns out this
was just the beginning for Kip Winger. – This is, uh, you know, at
home with Kip Winger. (laughs) This is so exciting. (banjo music) – I’m Chris Funk. I’m a musician in a band
called The Decemberists, and I’m on a journey looking
for the most surprising and extraordinary people in music. My next stop takes me
to Nashville, Tennessee. There I will meet a rock
legend with one of the most unexpected transformations in music. – Hi guys, we’re The Decemberists. We’re from Portland, Oregon,
United States of America. (audience cheers) A Decemberists tour
brought me to Nashville where we played the
historic Ryman Theater. A day between shows gave me
a chance to explore the city known for its honky tonks and live shows. But I was here for something
else; to track down an ‘80s icon. – What’s up?
– Hello. – I’m Kip Winger, and I’m
in the band, Winger, and I’m also a classical composer. At the height of my career,
we were playing for thousands of people every night and
gold and platinum albums. Beavis and Butthead was the
biggest show in MTVs history at the time, and it ushered in a whole new genre of music, grunge. And it completely ripped
apart the ‘80s hair bands, and I was at the scene of the crime. My name was on the little
geeky guy’s T-shirt that represented everything that sucked. Lost the record deal, lost the publishing. I was at my very lowest point. I did say, well there’s
nothing else to do now except that thing that
I’ve always wanted to do, (subtle bagpipe music) which is really learn how to
wield an orchestra organically. – To go from a rock bass
player to composer is learning music all over again. To do so later in life, as
Kip did, is almost unheard of. (classical music) – I could never even
read an orchestral score until I was 35. 10, 15 years into it to
finally start to hear orchestras play my music,
and realize, oh my God, this is really what I’m here to be doing. – Dude, that’s awesome. Amazing. – In this case I took a,
I’m calling it a riff, ’cause that’s my terminology
from being a rock guy. (piano riff) (musical sounds) turns into… (orchestral music) It was a scary and lonely path. I’ve got a record company
that’s going, why are you doing that? You’re a rocker. You need to rock. And I’m like, no, no, no, I
don’t need to rock; I need to be doing this. This just kind of starts
all on a rock riff, really. You know, you kinda go
against all odds when you just believe in something. – Despite the challenges
with learning how to compose, Kip’s persistence ultimately
led to a Grammy nomination in Contemporary Classical Composition. (pleasant music) – It’s very cathartic,
healing experience to overcome my illiteracy in music
at a late age, with not so much self-confidence. It was like, okay, you know what? I don’t suck. Like, it wasn’t true, what they all said. To be acknowledged with
a composer nomination from the Grammys was the greatest feeling of accomplishment of my whole life. (pleasant music)

80 comments

  1. This is just like Yoshiki the drummer from japanese rock band X japan, who wrote this kind of music and plays piano as well

  2. lol I love how all of the parts of the classical pieces they played sounded exactly like guitar riffs on different instruments.

    I know from experience that being used to the formula of rock/metal riffs which mainly rely on pentatonic scales and pedal tones (that thing where you strum one note and then play that note between a bunch of other notes) means that it's really hard to write music that doesn't sound like that.

  3. I can listen to the heaviest black or death metal band, but will always have time for Vivaldi, Mozart, Debussy, Rachmanioff… classical music is just freakin amazing.

  4. Been a fan from the beginning. I always said when this beavis and butthead stuff came out Kip should have embraced it and came out on stage wearing a B%B T-shirt. lol Either way he's where is now because of adversity. Rock on.

  5. Kip is such an inspiration, you can even hear on the early winger albums how complex his arrangements were. One of my idols

  6. What really made me smile here… rock has been borrowing from classical for ages, so it was really cool to see him come up with something and say, "It all started with a rock riff." Very, very cool.

  7. Great to see stories like this instead of the tragic ones we hear so frequently of past rock stars. Reminds me a bit of Duff McKagan… quit GNR and got a Finance Degree from the University of Seattle. He has a financial firm now and still makes music.

  8. This guy's big hit song in the 80's was about raping an underage girl. Now he's making mediocre orchestral music and wants everyone to sympathize with him because Beavis and Butthead hurt his precious little feelings? Screw him.

  9. Dammit kip can't you do both? Rock and classical? Don't give up on our music that happened during our time, just because some record executive's thought it was time to change to grunge, we never changed, and you shouldn't either.

  10. Winger NEVER sucked. out of all hard rock bands of the time they were the one with complex arrangements compared to their pears…good on him.

  11. Google…the drummer and guitar player for Winger…very talented.
    Kip Winger…is a man who loves music.

  12. the business as well as many fans of rock did him and his band dirty. He was 100% correct when he said his band could play rings around metallica. they were that good. not a popular thing to say back in the 90s….but it was true.

  13. No doubt, Kip Winger one of rocks all-time best composers/musicians !Been a fan from the start and never swayed. Kip= ICON

  14. This should have been a longer documentary. Would have been nice to hear Kip talk about "Rainbow In The Rose" off Winger's 2nd album and the intro to "Hungry" off the debut Winger album and how he constructed and composed them. So much could have been talked about. Definitely too short of a doc.

  15. 🥀Well thank you for grunge oh yeah. You Guys are Amazing keep Rock n Roll and what ever you need to keep music going. You Guys were under rated for so long but I love your song's 🥀🤘

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