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.
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 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.
And of course, the biggest of them all:
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, at least, that individuals exist outside of the leader. 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 this? What’s happened to us?
Of course, to every rule there is an exception. The clan of warriors know as Dio did not ‘feature’ Ronnie James so much as trot him out as their most intimidating Hero. He would have swiftly run through with his sword any of these other so-called men.