Ted Nugent. Those two words can elicit wildly different responses, depending on who you are. That’s not surprising since he’s known as the “Wild Man” of rock and roll. Nugent – or Nuge, to some – has a career that spans more than five decades, with more than 40 million albums sold and 6,400+ concerts along the way. When he’s not shredding his guitar for thousands of passionate fans, Nuge is writing books, hosting TV shows, or offering his vociferous thoughts on myriad political and cultural issues. He’s on the verge of releasing a new studio album entitled The Music Made Me Do It and Uncle Ted is on the road this summer, further solidifying his position as one of rock and roll’s preeminent guitar-slinging superstars. Amidst his busy schedule, Nuge was kind enough to do an interview with me where we discuss his impressive career, collaborations with other artists and more.
You toured with KISS on the band’s Farewell Tour in 2000. What was that experience like? And what are your thoughts on KISS?
I’ve been beyond fortunate to tour with many of the world’s greatest bands and artists and certainly KISS is one of the best. I’ve shared tours with them going all the way back to the early 1970s and it’s always a killer honest to God all American rock-n-roll riot! Good guys, full-on professionals and tons of fun to be around. All good!
On your 1995 album, Spirit of the Wild, you included the song “Fred Bear,” which is a tribute to the famous bowman that you befriended. What was your relationship like with Fred? And what did you set out to accomplish with this song?
On our annual family bowhunting trek north every October, my family and I would visit Bear Archery and enter what unbeknownst to me at the time could very well have been the bowhunting dream epicenter of planet earth. The tall lanky gentleman with a contagious warm smile greeted us with a friendly handshake and welcomed us into his little archery shop. We joined the man on this, and future encounters at the Grayling Restaurant for some lunch and a piece of cherry pie and a glass of chocolate milk, then bid him farewell as we headed to our Titabawasee River log cabin campsite to get on with our family bowhunting weekend. It would be a few years before I came to grips with just who this great man was and the unbelievable joyous opportunity I was so privileged to experience with him.
Fred Bear was the gentleman’s gentleman and will forever be in the hearts of all whom he touched. A listen to my tribute song for him conveys my and many people’s love for the legendary bowhunter.
You, Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw, and Michael Cartellone formed the band Damn Yankees in 1989. What are your thoughts on the two Damn Yankees albums you put out and will a third album ever see the light of day?
God what a killer band of amazing musical forces! Another wonderful example of how blessed I am to work with the best musicians the world has ever known! None of us would shut that door, but the logistics of arranging schedules is a royal and most likely insurmountable bitch. But we do all remain hopeful and keep in touch! Those guys deserve me.
Speaking of Jack Blades, Night Ranger is one of my favorite rock bands. What are your thoughts on Night Ranger?
Killer band, killer musicians, killer songs, fun guys, gungho rock-n-roll professionals!
Both you and Gene Simmons don’t do drugs or drink alcohol. Neither do I, so I respect that. However, like both of you, I don’t think marijuana, especially for medicinal purposes, should be illegal. What are your thoughts on drugs, alcohol, and the current marijuana movement we’re seeing right now in the United States of America?
When one is so irresponsible to pursue a state of “comfortably numb”, one is intentionally entering the liability column of life. I have always been for legalizing any and all herbs, plants, vegetation, drugs, pharmaceuticals and anything and everything to assist those with medical conditions. I am aware of no meaningful evidence to change my stand. I don’t want my musicians high, nor my babysitter, pilot, dentist, my mechanic or anybody who I need to rely on for excellence.
I have painfully witnessed first-hand otherwise wonderful human beings throw their lives away in the name of getting drunk and high, choosing to lose control and stumbling their way to an early grave. But when a semblance of quality of life can be provided to a suffering fellow human being by the regulated use of marijuana, how dare we deny it.
Medical marijuana is about alleviating pain and suffering. Period. It has nothing to do with blurry-eyed and burned-out whackos ruining lives by smoking the wacky tobaccy and professing to watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea.
You have a massive following on social media and a huge influence on people when it comes to important social issues. What role and responsibility do you think musicians such as yourself have when it comes to being part of the public discourse on matters that are political and/or social?
My humble opportunity and duty to communicate with my fellow man has absolutely nothing to do with my profession. I join thinking, educated, caring, loving, hardworking American families when we genuflect at the altar of self-evident truth, logic, commonsense, goodwill and righteous decency. In a tragic world where the scourge of politically correct denial and fake-news dishonesty run amok, we the good people of America are fighting against the cultural suicide of socialism and liberalism.
My message is so simple, it’s stupid: We the people are supposed to be in charge of this country, and the US Constitution and Bill of Rights are the self-evident truths by which all decisions and policies must be made and enforced. I will go down in history as the good guy with the balls to go against the desouling of America.