The Ted Nugent Interview
You’re sure to have a breezy, fun and damn informative conversation when you talk to Ted Nugent. Pretty much a living rock legend, ‘Uncle Ted’ is the quintessential guitar-wielding ‘Motor-City Madman’ who has sold more then 40 million albums, performed more 6,500 high-octane live shows, (he just came off a tour where he played 58 “fire breathing” concerts in 68 days) and doesn’t seem to be anywhere near ready to slow down, even at the ripe old age of 68.
I was honored to speak to the writer of “Stranglehold,” “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Great White Buffalo,” a seminal member of the Amboy Dukes, a man who speaks his mind, hunts for what he eats. And, as you will see below, simply loves life to the fullest.
So, you’ve just come off a tour, how does it feel?
It was the greatest...58 shows in 68 days. I have the greatest audiences, an incredible band with Greg Smith on bass and vocals and the outrageous animal at twenty Jason Hartless on drums. We come off that stage feeling better than ever. The explosion of love. It’s untouchable with a life of its own. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play these songs? Every band in the world wants to play these songs.
That’s a lot of playing for a guy, who let’s say, is a slightly ‘mature’ rocker. How do you keep up the pace?
That’s right, Ralph, that’s right, it could be hard at my age. But I have the energy coming from living clean and sober, not putting any poisons in my body and absolutely loving what I do. But as our great philosopher Dirty Harry said: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” So you got to be mindful of that. But music fortifies us more than drains us.
So, in the face of a music business that’s pretty much down for the count for any rocker of a ‘vintage’ variety these days, you just keep doing what you’ve always done?
Yes! Ever since I heard Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley I knew I wanted to do that, get on that adventure and I came to make my own signature of it. Sixty years later here I am and I can’t fucking wait to step on that stage every night! From playing pool parties and sock hop concerts years ago, to just stepping off stage from my last show of this tour the other night in Muskogee it has been a pleasure. I am compelled to do it and I will keep doing.
How about following new music, do you get into any of it?
You know, I see people like Carrie Underwood — who God must love her better than the rest of us, she’s got so much talent — but to tell you the truth Ralph lots of what I hear of that music sounds like a cartoon. It breaks my heart from watching the Country Music Awards to the Grammys to MTV things, I have no idea really what that’s all about.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you your views on the latest political race.
Well it is a cluster fuck of cluster fucks, isn’t it? But I can’t see that we really have a choice. America comes down to those people who are out there going to their jobs, earning their own way, sacrificing and those people who don’t, declaring dependency. I can’t believe people are so stupid to take that road with Hillary; that they want to vote for such a scamming, thieving, felon, it’s staggering to me. I’m all in for Trump even though I know he’s not the fucking archangel, but the way I see it we don’t have a choice against what’s being offered on the other side.
All this talk of how jazzed you are to be playing now, jumping off and on stage and still having so much fun presently, basically loving your life, do you think back at all over your career, assess it, miss some days more than others?
Am I aware of my life at 67.8 years on the planet? Sure. But I got to tell ya I was just awarded an award an archery merit award from Bass Pro shops and there I was hanging out with buddies I have known for years, missing other guys not with us anymore, and man I remember those guys and those days with such fondness. And I can recall my dad taking me hunting, me telling him about wanting a guitar and him instilling in me that sense to go earn the money to buy it and I remember those days too.
And do I remember the Amboy Dukes winning a battle of the bands in ‘63, then the Ted Nugent solo years and the Double Live Gonzo earth-shattering memories off the fucking charts hysterical fun and demanding work, hell yeah!
But I got to tell you, I just had the greatest year of my life coming off that stage drenched in sweat every night and had and equally great night last night just being at home with Mrs. Nugent. All those years before and experiences accumulate so I can be the best I can be to provide for my family and do this that I am blessed to do.
Let me give you the long and short of it Ralph. I have this buddy Austin Jones, he has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair, breathes through a tube and he and I go hunting. And when his head falls out of his head brace and I go and grab his chin and put him back in it he laughs. And we go bow hunting with his dad and sit around the campfire, man how much fun we have.
And we get all these other kids, like this beautiful little girl Samantha with maybe has six months to live because she’s got leukemia and she gets in touch with my charity organization to tell us all she wants to do is hang out with Uncle Ted and we make it happen, drop everything to be there for her, for any of those kids, the positive glow of love and bravery I feel from these kids who want to hunt, hang around the campfire, hear my stories, that’s makes me want to go out and fight the bad and the ugly, play my guitar. I figure I’ll gladly be God’s fucking puppet doing this as long as he lets me, knowing I’m the luckiest son-of-bitch on earth.