Hmm, there's only been one other case
of this weird "Winamp Equalizer" issue, and it was never resolved . . . mainly because the user refused to answer any of my questions (regardless of whether they were important/relevant or not), insulted everyone and ended up being banned.
 oops, make that two
Yes, we would very much like to get to the bottom of this, but alas, no-one knows what/how/why. Though it looks like it's Win98SE specific...
You say you've uninstalled, deleted the winamp dir, deleted winamp.ini (windows dir), reinstalled... as per these
Have you tried reinstalling but without support for Burning/Ripping (for now, just for troubleshooting purposes)?
Winamp 5.x installer > Audio File Support: uncheck "Sonic Burning/Ripping Engine".
Note, you'll still be able to rip with Winamp by using aspi
instead of sonic.
Does the problem persist if you choose a classic skin, instead of a modern skin?
With Winamp closed, try editing winamp.ini in the Winamp dir as follows:
Note: "skin=" will make winamp load with the classic base skin.
Also note, setting output to out_wave.dll is recommended for Win98/ME systems. Whereas out_ds.dll (DirectSound Ouput) is still recommended for Win2k/XP/2003.
Also edit winamp.ini in the Windows dir accordingly:
And edit gen_ml.ini (Winamp\Plugins dir) as follows:
Let us know if you get Winamp to open after making these changes.
Apart from all ^that^, the only other things I can suggest are already referred to in the following threads:
Freeze-up / slow startup issues:
btw, is this a Laptop / Notebook?
What's the make/model# ?
Is everything updated? (drivers, etc etc)
log might also help ?!