TED NUGENT IS PORTRAYED often in the media as a racist and a monster. In Red Hot Rock Magazine’s opinion, after speaking to Mr. Nugent several times, we do not agree. Every time we have had the pleasure of speaking to this always-high-energy rock’n’roll icon, Uncle Ted has emphasized the debt he continues to pay to all of his black heroes. Nugent’s choice of language can be colorful and, thankfully, not politically correct. But he has never once betrayed a hint of bigotry to us. And as you will read in the following story, Nugent’s charitable work goes way beyond what any in the left-leaning mainstream media will dare discuss lest they reveal what an ethical, conscientious and well-meaning individual Ted Nugent really is.
The cover story you are about to read is the result of two wide-ranging, in-depth conversations conducted with Uncle Ted, the first just about the time of the release of Nugent’s latest studio effort, Shut Up & Jam! Following that is a fresh, new interview completed shortly before this issue of Red Hot Rock went to print. But we begin on July 14, 2014.
RED HOT ROCK MAGAZINE: Mr. Ted Nugent!
TED NUGENT: Full-fuckin’-time! How you doin’, boy?
RHRM: OK. Very good. Great to hear your voice again. It’s been a few years since I last spoke to you…
THE NUGE: Yeah. If you love killer rock’n’roll, it probably is good to hear my voice, isn’t it? Just to know I’m out here, still doing it for the unsuspecting civilian public. Heh heh heh!
RHRM: Well, sir. I need to say that it’s a thrill whenever I have the opportunity to speak to you. While publishing the magazine overseas in a very left-leaning country, we proudly placed you on the cover of Red Hot Rock with the stars and stripes waving behind you. As you can imagine, this wasn’t politically correct, but we didn’t care. And we broadcasted a radio show, which began with a rock’n’roll version of the American national anthem, in a neighborhood populated by anti-American, anti-Israel people. Now that I am back home, we will always provide a home for Ted Nugent whenever you wish to be in the magazine.
THE NUGE: What I’m about to say, because of what you just told me and what I know about you and what I understand, especially from that last sentence you just gave me, you know… It would be fun and cute to celebrate the defiance of what you’re talking about. And certainly what I am and what you clearly are and G-d bless you for that. But, you know, it’s way beyond the cute part now, isn’t it? By doing what you just said and by doing what I do every day, it’s not just cute anymore. It’s so fucking, heartbreakingly serious, that it literally defines not just choice of politics or the whim of political assumption or, you know, you know, what feels good and what someone thinks they might prefer. We’re talking the life and fuckin’ death of the only place where freedom exists.
RHRM: As much as some people in power would like to take some of that away.
THE NUGE: Oh, it’s been taken away. You’ve seen a lot of it taken away. I mean, here we have… Well, we’ll get into politics. But I guess the most important thing is that I am able to use my We The People resources. Whether I’m a welder or a goat farmer or a guitar player, we all have a responsibility as We The People to exercise our job in keeping the heavy lifting of an experimental self-government alive. And when it all comes to the bottom line before you go to bed at night worn out because you worked really hard, my records supply the soundtrack for that. If you really, really paid attention to my lyrics all throughout my career, especially on Shut Up & Jam!, sure it’s fun. It’s exhilarating. It’s uplifting. It’s buoyant. It’s inspiring. And it’s good just to dance to, even if you’re a Tom Morello fan. But the bottom line is, the real content of my defiance and my spirit of just doing everything I can to destroy the status quo, especially now since the status quo is basically a series of jackals, this record is critically important for all of the above. The message is wonderful, but like “Street Fighting Man” by The Rolling Stones or “Honky Tonk Women”, I mean, you don’t really have to pay attention to the message. The groove, the grind, the energy, the upbeat velocity of good rhythm & blues, rock’n’roll. That’s really all you need. But when there is a message, if someone pays attention to it, my G-d, there might be some hope for us.
RHRM: The main thing for me when listening to music is usually not the lyrics. It’s usually the music and how the singer’s voice combines with the music to create the overall vibe. Having said that, when you have a Ted Nugent and there are messages in the songs that are both interesting and entertaining, I do listen more closely than I would to…
THE NUGE: Anybody else! Anybody else! Ha ha ha.
RHRM: And I wanted to assure you that we will not bastardize your words or extract sound bites as is often done elsewhere to make it look as if you said something that you didn’t. You can be confident that we will print exactly what you say. Even though you may sometimes step over the line, whatever that line may be, I respect your right to freely express your opinions and not be afraid to do so.
THE NUGE: Well, G-d bless you for that. But you know, those that don’t have that kind of integrity that you just outlined… And I thank you for that. I salute you for that. Because that’s the kind of man I hang out with. That’s the kind of mankind I hang out with. From my assistant to my band, my crew, my brothers and sisters, every member of the Nugent family, my incredible wife Shemane, my sons and daughters, my eleven grandkids, everybody associated with me, our Spirit Of The Wild television production, our Sunrize Safaris guides and outfitters, no matter who I work with, all the dozens and dozens of charities. I am so surrounded by people that believe what you just said. But they respect other people’s stand. They respect other people. And here’s the clincher. I don’t stand for opinions. It’s not my opinion that venison is protein. It’s not my opinion! It is! It’s not my opinion that I have the right to defend myself. I do have the right to defend myself! That’s not a… That’s not a… I love people I run into. “I really like your ideas.” And I go, “Ideas? They’re not fuckin’ ideas! They’re self-evident truths, man.” These are self-evident truths. These are the foundations of a free man. So, I don’t have many opinions. So thank you for representing them accurately. But here’s the clincher. I gotta tell you. When the left claims that I am a child molester, a pedophile, in The Huffington Post, and hundreds of publications, they use the word “pedophile”, you’ve got to be kidding me! I do charity work with little boys and girls all the time. I’ve had a children’s charity, Kamp For Kids, for twenty-five years, where people come from all around the world to bring their children to be guided and touched spiritually, to be the best that they can be, to be clean and sober, and to be cognizant of their cause and effect as consumers of what Mother Earth produces. Oh yeah, that’s some real molestation going on! But you know what? Here’s my point. Let them write that. Because history will show that our opponents in politics don’t just have different views, opinions and ideas. They live. to. hate. They don’t want to just choose tofu over venison. They want to ban. my. venison. They don’t just want to choose to be unarmed and helpless. They want to force everyone to be unarmed and helpless. So somebody, somewhere other than me… And I hope… If you haven’t, you better pour yourself a nice, tall cup of joe and read all my articles, my hundreds and hundreds of articles, at wnd.com, World Net Daily. You gotta do this for your own journalism, you know… overview. WND.com. I write a weekly Ted Nugent blog. Newsmax.com. And even DeerAndDeerHunting.com. Even though it’s about conservation and deer hunting, it weaves in the politics of bureaucrats who try to ban science, who try to halt biology. So, thank you for representing me accurately and using the actual words I give you. Ha ha. Which is so rare in journalism today. It actually is one of the greatest sources of humor in my life. They just completely twist the shit that I say. I mean, some journalists, I swear to G-d, some journalists… I would have just told you about all my children’s charities and all the time that parents bring their dying little boys and girls, little kids, five, six, seven, eight, ten-year-old boys and girls… Their last wish in life before they die, these terminally ill kids, is for Ted Nugent to take ‘em hunting! Well, in that dramatic, heartbreaking time of a family’s life, how can I qualify to be invited during this heartbreaking time? And I’ll tell you how. Because they vet me, they research me, they scrutinize me and determine that yes, I am the right guy to take their little boy or little girl on their last wish in life. But The Huffington Post will continue to call me a child molester.
RHRM: I’m glad that you brought up the work you do with kids. Your Kamp For Kids teaches these children to manage and respect wildlife and its conservation. There is also your Hunt For A Lifetime and Hunt For A Cure. But you also participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. You get so many idiots trash-talking you, but nobody ever mentions all of the wonderful work that you do for others. And if people would like to read some of your essays and blog posts, they can also go to Tednugent.com. I’ve read quite a few of those.
THE NUGE: That’s right. I’m a productive motherfucker, man.
RHRM: Ha ha! OK. Shut Up & Jam! The title track on the album, right out of the gate, is high-octane, rock’n’roll fantabulousness with those classic Ted Nugent guitar riffs and immediately recognizable vocal attack. Right to the point. Great stuff. That’s what you want on a Ted Nugent album. And it continues throughout the album. No ballads on here.
THE NUGE: Well, there is a blues tune. I did a very emotional blues rendition of the song, it’s a second version, of “Never Stop Believing”. There’s a high-energy, rockin’ “Never Stop Believing”. But I also did an almost gospel-blues version of it on the record, too. Which is… You’re right. It’s not a ballad. It’s a genuine, all-American, black, Howlin’ Wolf, blues version of it. And I’m really, really proud of this record. Be sure you give everybody credit. To have Sammy Hagar and the great Johnny “Bee” Badanjek from Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels drum on my song, “She’s Gone”. And Greg Smith’s bass playing is right up there with the greatest bass players that ever walked the face of the earth. And a brand new drummer I found down in Texas just dickin’ around doing some demos over the years named Jon Kutz. This son of a bitch is like John Bonham meets Keith Moon. I mean, I just run into these brilliant, gifted, not just talented musicians. But they’re all gentlemen. And certainly what Derek sings on “Everything Matters” and what Mick Brown does on the two songs he drums. And the fact that Michael Lutz, the Brownsville Station, “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”, rhythm & blues god from Detroit and I got together again after Spirit Of The Wild in ’95. I mean, and Tim and Andy Patalan, the engineers… Everybody loves black, authority music. The soul of Little Richard and Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley and James Brown and Chuck Berry. So, there was a united celebration of groove, authenticity, heart and soul and high energy. And so, it’s not just Ted Nugent that lives authority and soul and groove and the blackness of the tightness of the band, but everybody who surrounded me on this record. They all live for those things. So that’s why it’s so consistent. I’m really, really proud of this record. And I’m on the road here, hanging out with people every day. I’ve met people, many, many, hundreds of people on this tour alone, that own every record I have ever made. And they actually bring ‘em to the DangerZone. We sell these DangerZone tickets to raise money for charity. And I sign these stacks and stacks of albums! It’s absolutely hysterical. And these motherfuckers will look me in eye with tears and say that this is my best record ever. It qualifies with “Stranglehold” and “Hey Baby” and “Motor City Madhouse” and all those songs. So I know these songs got the piss and vinegar. It’s like… It defies gravity. ‘Cause I’m an old man, but I’m blessed with this unbelievable energy and love of the music. So, the passion drives all of us to this day.
RHRM: That was the next thing that I was going to mention. It seems as if you haven’t lost an ounce of energy. You are the same guy I listened to and went to see thirty years ago. And I understand that this album, with that amount of energy, was recorded while you were in pain recovering from double knee replacement surgery.
THE NUGE: Well, there’s a funny dichotomy to that in that, number one, the reason it took seven years to record this record is ‘cause I can’t sit still long enough. Heh heh, yeah. I got so many things going on in my life. My life is such… It’s beyond the dream. I mean, my huntin’, my music, my ranching lifestyle, my dirty hands, plantin’ crops for the wildlife and plantin’ trees and cuttin’ my own wood and working on fences and working on dams and just training my dogs and fishing and running my trapline. It is the ultimate, earthly, spirit life you could ever imagine. I produce Spirit Of The Wild on Outdoor Channel, the number one hunting show in the history of the world because it’s raw, it’s primal, it’s honest. We don’t apologize because we kill stuff to share venison with our neighbors and charities around the country. It’s just a beautiful, wonderful, high-energy lifestyle that’s also, at the same time, ultra relaxing and soul-cleansing because it’s with my incredible wife and my dogs and time with my family. So when it comes time to make a record, I am so cleansed. But then I had to have my knees replaced, so I was basically crippled. Ha ha. And so, what a time to make a record ‘cause I can’t go anywhere, heh yeah heh heh heh. I literally couldn’t walk. So, thank G-d that Sammy and all my great, great team was available at the same time and we created at the studio right down the street, right down the road, a dirt road from my house, at this little studio that these guys had put together over the years. And we made the record. And the energy and the positive spirit of this record has to do with all the barbecue and all the laughter and all the celebration of our black musical heroes and how we wanted it to be tight like James Brown’s band and we wanted to have the throttle of Chuck Berry and we wanted to have the energy of James Brown and Wilson Pickett. So, those things were talked about, they were articulated and they infused every song, every lick, every lyric. And it was just shit luck that I couldn’t move because my legs wouldn’t work. Heh heh. And so that’s the only time I get to make a record, when I shut up and jam.
RHRM: And anyone that mentions Howlin’ Wolf is alright with me.
THE NUGE: Yeah. I’m tellin’ ya! That authority. We’re talking the original musical authority of the down’n’dirty black guys who were now unleashing the soundtrack of freedom. Because they just, we just celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation and slavery was now banned as it should be. And so these black artists, even though they reminisced the heartbreak of the blues during slavery, they also celebrated that they were no longer slaves. And fuck you, I’m getting drunk tonight and I’m playing some nasty fuckin’ music like “Wang Dang Doodle.”
RHRM: I can take an educated guess as to why you needed to have your knees replaced. Was it because of all of those extreme stage performances over the years?
THE NUGE: Yeah. That’s exactly right. I leaped off of, you know, just like an idiot… I didn’t know what a meniscus was ‘til I broke down in 2009, literally unable to walk, and I had x-rays and I didn’t have any meniscus in either knee. That was the first time I had ever heard the word “meniscus”. I didn’t know I had to treat my meniscus with care. Ha. I leaped off those amps for five thousand concerts, multiple times a night, and just destroyed my knees. And G-d, am I sorry I did that ‘cause the pain I… I’m laying here right now with ice on my knees. The pain is indescribable. But all my buddies in the army… I just did a benefit last night for the Semper Fi Fund for the heroes of the military who have had their legs and arms and eyeballs blown out so that we can be free. And so every time I think I’m gonna complain about pain, I remember my buddies last night with
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