#MetalMonday: Winger's Self-Titled Album Broke Big in '88

Winger's 'Winger'
Photo Credit
Atlantic Records

If it’s Monday, then it must be a #MetalMonday! Today, we take a look back at an album that proved to be a tremendous success way back yonder in 1988: the self-titled debut album by Winger.

Yes, that’s right: Winger, the band founded by Kip Winger, a guy who’d actually accomplished a fair amount in his career before signing to Atlantic Records and finding mainstream recognition.

Born in Denver, Colorado, our man Kip was actually rocking out when he was in his teens, playing in the band Blackwood Creek with his brothers Nate and Paul and their friend Peter Fletcher. The first recording released by any incarnation of Winger was in 1980, when they had a song (“Wizard of the Key”) included on Thunder on the Mountain, a compilation released by radio station KAZY. After leaving Colorado behind and moving to New York, Kip started to find major-label work, co-writing a song for Kix’s Midnite Dynamite album (“Bang Bang (Balls of Fire)”) and then singing, playing, and writing on Fiona’s Beyond the Pale LP, where he met Reb Beach, soon to be part of the Winger lineup. The big break, though, came with his work on Alice Cooper’s Constrictor and Raise Your Fist and Yell albums, after which Winger decided to move on and start his own band called - wait for it - Sahara!

Oh, right, then they changed it to Winger. (The name change was reportedly done at Alice Cooper’s suggestion, and as suggestions go, you have to admit that it was a pretty good one.)

Winger released their aforementioned self-titled album in May 1988, and when all was said and done, the LP had gone platinum and spawned four singles, all of which cracked the Top 40 of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Three of the four, however, made their way onto the Hot 100, with two of them going Top 40 and one even cracking the Top 20:

“Madalaine”: The debut single from Winger was also the only single from the album that failed to crack the Hot 100. It was one of the first songwriting collaborations between Kip Winger and Reb Beach, featuring some riffs that Beach had stockpiled over the years. Thankfully, with Winger’s help, they were able to turn it into a proper rocker.

“Seventeen”: Nothing says heavy metal in the ‘80s like an ode to an underage girl, but in  Winger’s defense, he found spiritual inspiration for the song from The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” and - believe it or not - when he wrote it, he didn’t even know that 17 constituted underage.

“Heading for a Heartbreak”: The most successful single from Winger on both the Hot 100 and the Mainstream Rock chart, reaching No. 19 and No. 8, respectively. It’s a top-shelf power ballad, arguably one of the best to emerge during the hair-metal era, so don’t pretend you’ve never enjoyed it.

“Hungry”: The fourth and final single from the Winger album, it may not have found the same degree of success as the two singles that preceded it, but it must be said that it’s got a pretty great melodramatic video that’s well worth checking out.

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