In which the demise of hair metal bands named after their main hair metal guy is kind of lamented

In the 1980s, Mark Slaughter scored despite (or perhaps because of) these pants.

The discerning student of 1980s Hair Metal will have noticed a proclivity for bands of the era to use the last name of their frontman as their band name. Winger, for example. Fronted by Kip Winger. Or as they said back in the day, featuring Kip Winger.

Let’s take a moment to examine this phenomenon. Because it’s quite funny.

Consider the ego required. Imagine you’re Kip Winger. Your buddies call you Winger, like Maverick in Top Gun. You dig chicks, partying, and rock music, probably in that order. You realize that if you had a band, you could enjoy all these at once. In essence, to attract chicks, you decide to throw a party where you are the entertainment. You then make a conscious choice to put on leather pants, hang some scarves around your neck, poof up your hair, and add some make up. You now no longer look like most other guys. You now look like a chick.

We could stop there, and already it’s funny.

You get on stage, throw up the devil horns, and hit the highest note you possibly can. You hold it for as long as your lungs will allow. You do this many times at the beginning or end of your songs. While you do this, three more guys dressed just like you stand behind you. They too made this choice. If you are lucky, at least one of them, probably the guitar player, is into this to the degree you are. The others are clearly just along for the ride (especially the bass player). Watching them, it’s obvious they’re fill-ins. Logic holds that there’s no way so many other guys could think dressing this way with you while you squeal was a good idea. But they are doing it. And here’s the kicker….

They are calling themselves you.

Your promotional materials, your tour bills, your radio spots, each of these markets your band as you. What’s more, they take it one step further by saying your band of yous features you. “Friday night at the Palladium…Winger! Featuring Kip Winger.

Winger! Featuring Kip Winger! (Which two are most into this? Which one is filler?)

Which two are into this? Which two are fill-ins?

It’s like the New England Patriots calling themselves “Brady.” If everyone cut their hair and dressed like Brady.

This actually happened in the 1980s, in case you missed it.

And what’s more impressive is that it worked! Those chicks? They actually did dig it. They showed up for the party. And they bought millions of records. Talk about scoring. 

In fact, it worked so well that other guys did the same thing.

Slaughter! Featuring Mark Slaughter!

Slaughter! Featuring Mark Slaughter!


Dokken! Featuring Don Dokken!


Keel! Featuring Ron Keel!

And of course, the biggest of them all:


Bon Jovi, featuring you know who. Not sure? Follow the thumb.

Isn’t it slightly incredible? At least The Heartbreakers had an identity separate from Tom Petty. Plus, they got to wear jeans. “The Dave Matthews Band” implies  a group of individuals with a leader, at least. But grown ass men dressing as other grown ass men, who dress like a girl, and everyone banding together under the grown ass man’s last name?

Why did we stop doing that? It’s fantastic!

Hi, Kip Winger. I like to party. I like rockin'.

Hi, Kip Winger. I like to party. I like rockin’ with my band Winger.

To every rule there is an exception, you know. Dio’s Ronnie James Dio would have defeated any of these guys in battle

To every rule there is an exception. Ronnie James Dio, of Dio, would defeat any of these other guys in battle.

Dio! R.I.P.

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