Winger was born in Denver, Colorado to parents who were both jazz musicians.
He grew up playing in a band named Blackwood Creek, with his brothers Nate and Paul plus friend Peter Fletcher (formerly in Pigmy Love Circus). Blackwood Creek broke up in 1980. Kip, his brothers, and Fletcher also played the Denver area bar scene while calling themselves Colorado.
At age 16, Winger began studying classical music after hearing the works of composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky in ballet class. At that time he sent a demo tape to Alan Parsons, from whom he received a personal reply. Years later, when Winger was chosen to be the lead singer of The Alan Parsons Live Project, he presented Parsons with that letter from 30 years prior.
In 1982, he studied with Sam Guarnaccia in Denver then moved to New York City and waited tables while studying composition with Edgar Grana.
Kip Winger’s first commercial break came in 1984, when he co-wrote a song for Kix’s third album, Midnite Dynamite. During that time he was working closely with the record producer Beau Hill, recording bass and vocals on various records. While Reb Beach was working on Fiona Flanagan’s Beyond the Pale record at Atlantic, Winger and Beach were introduced to each other and later began recording demos. In 1985, Winger joined Alice Cooper’s band. After making two albums with Cooper, Winger left in March 1987 to focus on his own band.
Winger returned to New York to work on songs with Reb Beach. They were joined by drummer Rod Morgenstein and keyboard player Paul Taylor. They initially performed under the name Sahara, but eventually changed their name to Winger, at Alice Cooper’s suggestion.
The band Winger released three albums (Winger (1988), In the Heart of the Young (1990), and Pull (1993) before moving on to solo careers.
Kip Winger then moved to New Mexico to work on his solo career, and study with Richard Hermann at the University of New Mexico.
Tragedy struck Winger in November 1996 when his first wife, Beatrice, was killed in an automobile accident.
He worked and recorded three solo records in Santa Fe, New Mexico: This Conversation Seems Like a Dream, Down Incognito and Songs from the Ocean Floor.
In 2002 Winger moved to Nashville, Tennessee and began working on his fourth solo record, From the Moon to the Sun (2008), which he co-produced with Cenk Eroglu.
In September 2006, it was announced that Winger would be reformed, with the Pull era line-up, to record the band’s fourth studio album, IV, and to go on tour to support it. During this tour, Winger recorded Winger Live which was released on CD and DVD in 2007. It was also confirmed that an anthology of rare tracks and early recordings, Demo Anthology (2007) would be released, as well as an autographed limited edition album, Seventeen: The Demos, where only 300 copies were made.
In 2009, Winger recorded their fifth studio album, Karma, which was hailed as their best record. The band toured the US, Europe and South America.
Following the release of From the Moon to the Sun, Winger studied with Michael Kurek and composed a thirty-minute symphonic piece, “Ghosts”, written for strings, piano and harp for a ballet commission. A world premiere with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra on November 14–15, 2009 has been confirmed. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon created the ballet “Ghosts”, which premiered at the San Francisco Ballet on February 9, 2010, with set design by Laura Jellinek, lighting design by M.L. Geiger and costume design by Mark Zappone.
Winger was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Award for Excellence in Music. The ballet was a hit and was brought back for a second season in 2010.
Winger then composed a four-part work entitled “Conversations with Nijinsky”, intended to celebrate the life of ballet dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. A recording of the piece performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra on the album C.F. Kip Winger: Conversations with Nijinsky reached the top of the traditional classical category on the Billboard music charts.
Winger’s composition “Blue Suede Shoes” from the album IV had honored the service and sacrifice of United States armed forces and their families. In appreciation, General Harold Cross presented Winger with an honorary plaque and historic United States of America flag. The presentation occurred in a surprise ceremony during the taping of the PBS television program, Legends & Lyrics.
On the television program Beavis and Butthead, one of the recurring characters, Stewart Stevenson, wears a Winger T-shirt in contrast to the AC/DC and Metallica shirts worn by Beavis and Butthead.
He has participated, and performed, as head counselor in the Rock Fantasy Camp with other musicians including Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler, Todd Rundgren, Jack Blades, Kelly Keagy, Bruce Kulick, Bill Leverty, Steve Lukather, Duff McKagan, Mark Slaughter, Carmine Appice, and Rudy Sarzo. He was featured in an episode of the American TV show “Pawn Stars” in May 2013 as helping the host, Rick Harrison, through Rock Fantasy Camp.
In the early 1990s, the Jackson Guitar Company made a Kip Winger Signature Bass.
During the late 1980s Winger dated the actress Rachel Hunter.
His first wife Beatrice Richter, whom he married in 1991, died in a car accident in November 1996.
He married Paula DeTullio in July 2004. They currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Alice Cooper – Constrictor (1986)
- Alice Cooper – Raise Your Fist and Yell (1987)
- Alice Cooper – Trash (1989)
- Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
- Winger (1988)
- In the Heart of the Young (1990)
- Pull (1993)
- The Very Best of Winger (2001)
- IV (2006)
- Demo Anthology (2007)
- Seventeen The Demos Vinyl Autographed Limited Edition(2007)
- Winger Live (2007)
- Karma (October 2009)
- Better Days Comin’ (2014)
- Blackwood Creek (November 2009)
- This Conversation Seems Like a Dream (1997)
- Down Incognito (1998)
- Songs from the Ocean Floor (2000)
- From the Moon to the Sun (2008)
- Ghosts – Suite No. 1 (2010)
- Kix – Midnite Dynamite (1985)
- Fiona – Beyond the Pale (1986)
- Fiona – Heart Like a Gun (1989)
- Kane Roberts – Kane Roberts (1987)
- Twisted Sister – Love Is for Suckers (1987)
- Bob Dylan – Down in the Groove (1988)
- Various artists – Hearts of Fire Soundtrack (1987)
- Blue Yonder – House of Love (1987)
- Orange Swirl – Orange Swirl (1998)
- Seven Days – Ride (1998)
- Rob Eberhard Young – Speak (1999)
- Under Suspicion – Under Suspicion (2001)
- Jordan Rudess – Rhythm of Time (2004)
- Twenty Flight Rockers – The New York Sessions 1988 (2004)
- XCarnation – Grounded (2005)
- The Mob – The Mob (2005)
- Jordan Rudess – The Road Home (2007)
- Northern Light Orchestra – Orchestra Arrangements (2009)
- “Space Truckin'”—–Smoke on the Water – A Tribute to Deep Purple – Various artists – (1994)
- “I’m in Love with My Car”—–Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute – Various artists – (2001)
- “I Want You”—–Spin the Bottle: an All-Star Tribute to Kiss – Various artists – (2004)
- “A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Everyday)”—–What’s Love? a Tribute to Tina Turner – Various artists – (2004)
- “Limelight” & “The Spirit of Radio”—–Subdivisions: A Tribute to Rush – Various artists – (2005)
- “Send Her My Love”—–An ’80s Metal Tribute To Journey – Various artists – (2006)
- “Drive My Car”—–Butchering the Beatles: A Headbashing Tribute – Various artists – (2006)
- “Holding Back the Years” (by Simply Red)—–Hair Metal Greatest Power Ballad Covers – Various artists – (2009)
- Alice Cooper – The Nightmare Returns Tour (1986)
- Winger – The Videos, Vol. 1 (1989)
- Winger – In the Heart of the Young, Vol. 1 (1990)
- Winger – In the Heart of the Young, Vol. 2 (1991)
- Winger – Live in Tokyo (1991)
- Winger – The Making of Pull (1993)
- Various artists – VH1 Metal Mania Stripped Across America Tour Live (2006)
- Winger – The Making of Winger IV (2007)
- Winger Live (2007)
- Winger DVD – Then & Now: The Making of Pull & Winger IV (2009)
Reviews and interviews
- RockReport Review May 2008
- Metal Sludge Rewind with Kip Winger Retrieved on 2009-01-01.
- Kip Winger Interview October 2008
- Kip Winger-Interview November 2007
- Ghosts and Simpler Times by Mike Ward San Francisco Bay Times Feb 2010
- No Pride in Prejudice By Janos Gereben – Classical Voice Feb 2010
- With Ghosts Part 1 by Bryan Reesman May 2010
- With Ghosts Part 2 by Bryan Reesman May 2010
- rock star reinvents himself with the help of Blair professor Michael Kurek by Jim Patterson – Vanderbilt View June 2010
- Winger’s True Passion: Music For Ballet by Amy Sciarretto Oct 2010
- Winger by Kathleen Sedita – Full Access Magazine Sep 2011