It’s hard to overstate Beavis and Butthead’s effect on music at large in the 90s.
The two MTV cartoon teens would often praise or destroy bands, exposing them to countless watchers who would not have seen the band otherwise. Look no further than the props they gave to Helmet, helping propel the band’s “Unsung” to great heights.
One band that got on the bad side of the boys was Winger, who became a kind of recurring joke throughout the show. The show’s resident nerd, Stewart, wore a Winger shirt throughout the show’s run.
In a recent interview with Ryan Roxie (and transcribed by Ultimate Guitar), Winger guitarist Reb Beach spoke about the adverse effects Stewart’s character had on the band. When asked if there were tangible realities from the show, 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.’ 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].”
“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 also talked about how Metallica took potshots at the band, saying
“And then, Metallica didn’t help with showing in their biggest video [in which] they throw darts at a poster of Kip Winger.
“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.”
It immediately impacted Beach’s financials, him recounting,
“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.”
Thankfully, one thing lead to another and Beach was able to join Alice Cooper’s touring band, saying,
“Kip 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.”
Don’t discount the power of two teenage cartoon characters, it seems.