By Metal Dave
Of all the weapons at Ted Nugent’s disposal (his high-powered mouth, blazing guns and goofy redneck arrogance, etc.), I wish he’d just shut the hell up and pull the trigger on that Byrdland guitar.
Yeah, I absolutely loathe the Nuge’s suffocating politics, but I could never deny the slicing guitar and wild-eyed testosterone that fueled “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Wango Tango” and my personal favorite, “Great White Buffalo.”
The following was published in the San Antonio Express-News on Aug. 20, 1999. Like him or not, Ted is an over-the-top, all-American rock-n-roll icon. I just wish he’d lock down his overworked bear trap and let the music do the talking.
By David Glessner
Special to the Express-News
He’s known the world over as the “Motor City Madman,” “Terrible Ted” and even “Sweaty Teddy,” but to his publicist, the gonzo guitarist who penned “love” songs such as “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Wango Tango” is referred to as Mr. Nugent.
“Yeah, I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people,” Nugent said, prior to a gig in New Orleans. “I move at a high rate of speed and those people make it happen.”Talking is something else Nugent, who turns 51 in December, does at a high rate of speed. Like a campaigning politician, he is articulate, opinionated, confident and personable to the point of interjecting his interviewer’s first name whenever possible.
“I’m a prioritizer first and foremost,” he said, explaining how he balances rock ‘n’ roll, his outdoor adventure empire and his role as spokesperson for the right to bear arms. “I maintain a balance of the sonic bombast of my middle finger rock ‘n’ roll maneuvers with the ultra peaceful outdoor life.”
The outdoor life will be anything but peaceful at Sunken Garden Theater on Wednesday, when Mr. Nugent headlines the “Rock Never Stops” tour featuring Quiet Riot, Slaughter and Night Ranger. Nugent is joined by journeyman drummer Tommy Aldridge and bassist Jon Gunnell. (NOTE: Tix = $25-35)
“Without question, this is the most exciting period of my musical career,” Nugent said. “Together we’ve got more throb per mile, more grunt factor, a certain swagger. I want to raise maximum hell.”
Raising hell has been a Nugent specialty since he formed the Amboy Dukes back in 1965 and gained airplay with “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Journey to the Center of the Mind.”
A decade later, as a loincloth-wearing solo artist, he became notorious for his caveman-like stage persona and hyper-speed stage banter. Albums like “Free For All,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Double Live Gonzo” (partially recorded in San Antonio) and “Weekend Warriors” earned Nugent the title of world’s top-grossing concert act in 1977-1979. Through it all, he staunchly opposed the drugs and alcohol that seem to go hand-in-hand with rock ‘n’ roll.
“I’m absolutely militant against that nonsense,” he said. “I have never, ever been willing to compromise my level of awareness, and that can be traced back to my hunting. Jerry Garcia despised me and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Nugent’s calendar is divided equally between music and hunting.
“I’ve never missed a hunting season since 1949 when I was 1 year-old and hanging on my dad’s back,” he said.
Since then, he’s been honored by countless law-enforcement agencies and the National Rifle Association, where he serves on the Board of Directors. A bow hunter as well as rifleman who eats his kills, Nugent blames the media for the hysteria surrounding the gun debate.
“More than 100 million law-abiding gun owners went to bed last night without any incident of death, misuse or negligence,” he piped. “The media is quick to report about the idiot in Atlanta who shot up an office building, but where the good guys have firepower, lives are saved. Dan Rather doesn’t tell you that.”
Ask him if musical acts such as Insane Clown Posse or Eminem influence the deadly actions of some of today’s youth, and Nugent goes on a tear.
“There’s always been stupid music,” he said. “Some people say ‘Wango Tango’ is stupid, but it’s fun. These rap guys … not a day goes by when I don’t pick up a paper and read about one who’s busted for drugs or illegal weapons or stealing. I (urinate) on their graves. In the absence of good parents, decent guidance and nurturing, those guys become meaningful.”
Back to the music, Nugent said he recently covered “Rag Doll” for an upcoming Aerosmith tribute album and expects to have new solo and Damn Yankees albums out early next year. In the meantime, he’s got his sights set on Texas.
“The hospitality of the people in Texas is incredible,” he said. “I go hunting in Kerrville every December, head out to Junction, rock San Antonio, Dallas, Houston. Those people are my blood brothers. I consider myself an official Texan.”