Ted Nugent - guitarist / vocalist / political activist / NRA member
On the phone with David Lee Wilson - 2000
For a time people tried to laugh off Ted Nugent. The sites and sounds of a guy who would attempt to mix outrageous Rock and Roll with conservative politics was so bizarre, liberals thought, that no one would ever take him seriously. For their part, the vast majority of conservatives were only able to offer up a kind of embarrassed acceptance. Now, some thirty years later, nobody is laughing, well except for Ted and that is more like a cackle. Ted Nugent has never had an affinity for subtlety. His hatred for stupidity and laziness and his expression of that disdain is only overshadowed by his passion for the potential of his American brothers and sisters. In the day to day expression of this love the guitarist offends many, turns off others but always speaks what he sees as the truth. Most people get it. The Nuge is what every politician promises but fails to be: a father figure for the nation. In this case, Pops can also really smoke on the guitar too!
Terrible Ted had been commandeering the airwaves and stages of Detroit for nearly thirty years when he decided it was time to try out this retirement thing that he had heard about. Retirement sucked, so, Ted packed up the Gibsons and headed out for a summer run of shows, skipping Detroit, and planned for the return of his classic New Year's Eve Fandango, the Whiplash Bash. Having planned and toured in preparation he put together the lineup, humbly taking the second spot on the bill, and the rest is quite literally rock and roll history. This was THE New Year's Eve event, not only for the Motor City but also for the entire musical world. No body could have done it bigger, grander or with more bombast than Nugent, God help us all. Ted claims that he is willing to put all the politics on the back burner, temporarily, in the name of Rock and Roll and that is how he was able to be part of this years gig, rechristened "The Millennium Bash" in Pontiac. Alongside the mighty METALLICA, SEVENDUST and Detroit's own premier pimp, Kid Rock, Nugent chewed up the past decade and spit out the beginnings of a new rock and roll millennium. Previous to this momentous gig Ted was kind enough to interrupt his pursuit of water fowl and give us a bit of a civics lesson and a whole lot of pep rally.
DAVID LEE: Happy Birthday!
TED NUGENT: Yeah, how 'bout that shit? Boy, I gave myself a great party yesterday, down here in Texas with a bunch of goose hunting, deer hunting fools. We are all having the American dream of a lifetime.
DL: I figured that you would be down there stumping for old Mr. Bush?
TN: Oh no! I haven't stumped for none of them boys, I don't know who deserves me yet.
DL: It is a broad field.
TN: Oh, I don't know about that. I think it is a pretty narrow field. I love what Alan Keys stands for and how he stands for it but I haven't tossed the flaming Nuge ring into the fire, yet. It is an important time and there are pivotal issues and there are clear and marked direction that should be taken with just a modicum of intellectual analysis. I do believe that Mr. Bush is light years ahead of the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats on the other side. We are going to approach it with our sleeves rolled way up and an attitude.
(Ted hears my youngest son crying in the other room)
TN: Sounds like a little baby.
DL: Yeah, that is Sean and he is seven and a half months now.
TN: That is great. God bless the children. That is what it is all about, that is why all of these issues are so important. We would like to give them back America Dave!
DL: On the Democratic side it is fairly obvious that Al Gore is going to be their man, can you think of anything more frightening than an Al Gore Presidency?
TN: Yeah, the people that would allow it to get this bad and the most embarrassing curse to ever plague America, apathy. Far worse than Janet Reno or Sarah Brady or Al Gore or Joslyn Elders or Bill Clinton or Hillary the Devil is apathy. When the dog first chomps on your leg and begins to snarl and heave, it is his fault. After two seconds it is not his fault anymore, it is the person that allows him to keep chewing that is responsible for the lost appendage. The dog has been chewing on our leg, he is up to my left nut and it is not even the dog's fault anymore. It is America's fault for not shooting the motherfucker and by that I am not recommending or condoning the shooting of anybody but figuratively speaking, if you don't stop the dog from chewing on your leg it is your fault that you are hobbled and can't walk anymore. We have seen what Bill Clinton does and we have seen how he does it. What other alternative do I have other than to blow the living shit out of a sky full of geese when I review the taxes that are chewing on my foot? When I see that the fuckin' tax man wants to come and count my guitars and see how much I owe him? When I say, "Hey Mr. Tax fuck, I bought those guitars and you know what I paid when I bought them? The price plus tax! The deal has been consummated. I bought some of them thirty years ago. I don't owe any more taxes! How dare you appraise my accumulated
material wealth and tax me again? Then, upon my death, tax my heirs at a rate of fifty percent?" I defy a human being to step forward and without a cloud of toxic guilt attempt to explain that in reasonable, intellectual terms.
DL: They do it simply because they have the ability to do it.
TN: It is tyranny. It is worse than a fuckin' sword. It is a dog that has the audacity to remain attached to your fuckin' leg year after year and after all of these years, I am afraid that it is our fuckin' faults. I am going to lead a revolution in this country and we are going to tell the tax man to get a fuckin' job!
DL: Tar and feathers and the whole deal?
TN: Oh man, it is pathetic and I won't stand for it anymore. There is going to be a change, if it starts in my community or in my household, I am going to start saying, "fuck you! You are not taxing me. I paid the tax on this, fuck you! I am so fuckin' mad that I could kill that goose with my lips! This my attitude and guess what? Not some of the guys in hunting camps agree. Not the occasional waitress agrees. Not the occasional State Trooper or Texas Ranger or Constable or Game Warden or Guide or sporting goods dealer or mechanic or welder, not the occasional citizen agrees, they all agree! And they all agree with Ted Nugent, they agree with self-evident truths. It is self evident that some bureaucrat motherfucker that has got the nerve to stand there with his hand out and re-tax already taxed items on an annual basis is the fuckin' devil! We are not going to take it anymore. As soon as I ignite this nation and burn down this monolith of apathy, you better put on your Kevlar pantyhose pal! The shit is going to fly and we are not going to take this anymore. I stand for such self-evident truths as to be stupid. It is beyond comprehension how we could have allowed it to get this bad but it is and it is time to fix it.
DL: It is a call that comes out all the time but moving from rhetoric to action seems to be the stopping block.
TN: The overwhelming indecency of it all is that it has never been more apparent. Let's just talk about those taxes. The way I have just expressed it to you, you have never heard it expressed that way before but I know that it is what you think. I don't even know you and I know you agree! I defy you to ask anybody, liberal, conservative, left, right, gay, straight, ask them to rationalize the concept of paying taxes on all of that stuff. Try and have them explain it. No one will even try. It is so indecent.
DL: Is the system fixable?
TN: It better be. There was this cop, a Sheriff's Deputy. He is hunting with me here. He is a member of Ted Nugent United Sportsmen. He joined when we played in Houston this August and his lady friend left in a huff at my concert. This year I got really tough on stage, always in an entertaining fashion, and I brought these points up right after the 4th of July. I said, ' I might seem to have a really special attitude here tonight and I know that, Texas, you know me very well. I have been playing here forever, in fact, before me, Texas was just a suburb of Mexico. We are celebrating the 4th of July and we are continually celebrating it in the Nugent camp, not because fireworks are cute. Not because we need an excuse for more barbecue but because we are remembering that in 1774 when the fucking British approached Concord bridge and had the nerve to announce that they are coming to take away our guns, that is what started it all. We said 'Oh, really? Does fuck you ring any bells?' We are celebrating the 4th of July because when the British came to take away our guns we killed the motherfuckers! We shot 'em dead." This cop felt chills because he had forgotten what we were celebrating. What was horrific to him was that his lady friend stood up and left and when he asked her why she said "Didn't you hear him? He is condoning the killing of people." He said, "You left because he reminded you how you got free? You are protesting the system by which we guaranteed your right to protest?" It is insane that a guitar player had to be the first person that this woman had ever heard remind her how we got free and it offended her! Ted Nugent didn't offend her, the very precept that we shot he motherfuckers that would deny us freedom, the very system by which she became free, offended her. That is like
protesting the lifeguard for sending you a raft after your third submersion. That is what we have become, we have lost touch. That is all that I represent, a big, giant, throbbing wake-up call and I couldn't be more proud.
DL: When you get up onstage for this New Year's Eve show you will be following KID ROCK who is the complete antithesis of everything you have just laid out, how do you justify that?
TN: You think?
DL: Absolutely. Besides being a dope smoking pimp idolater it was just reported that he posed for pictures with Bill Clinton in an anti-handgun campaign.
TN: Get out!
DL: I'm serious.
TN: Get the fuck out! Oh my God! Now, was it an afterthought where the picture was identified as an anti-gun maneuver or is that what he was actually there for?
DL: I don't know.
TN: Yeah, be careful of that because I have been talking to Bobbie lately and he has gushed forth volumes of almost embarrassing admiration for me. (laughs) He has actually come out and said how he appreciates how I stand up for what I believe in. I have never asked him for his take on the gun control issue but he sure came off, in our conversations, as being a big supporter of these kinds of issues but he may have been swayed, as the apathetic Americans have had an inclination to, by Mr. Billy's charismatic ways which, by the way, is how tyrants have always functioned. If indeed that was the case, I hope that you are there to watch me skewer the little fuckin' rascal on stage. (laughs) You watch who gets the biggest fuckin' response for what stance. I know who will win, I will, overwhelmingly. Let me remind you, I knew what Jimi Hendrix stood for and I knew what Bon Scott stood for and I knew what Keith Moon stood for and I knew what John Belushi stood for and I even know what Bill Maher stands for but I go on his TV show and I jammed with those other guys. I did an interview the other day and I made sure that I saluted Rosie O'Donnell for her charity work and then commenced to skewer her indecency so, I am more than ready, willing and able to bury political hatchets, on a temporary basis, in the name of rock and roll and in the clear and irreversible truism that all sides must be heard in life. That is the great thing about America, we are free to debate. Let the man who best represents the heart and soul of the masses win and I have all of the confidence in the world that I represent those masses far better than Rosie O'Donnell, Bill Clinton or Sarah Brady. Hopefully this is inaccurate information about Mr. Kid Rock because I will have to gut him with the sword of truth at some point but I will still go out on stage, as I do every night, and put my heart and soul into my rock and roll maneuvering. I do weave politics into my show, I always have, and I will do it better than he will ever dream of it.
DL: I can just see it, Kid Rock rising from under the stage in his pimp suit and from stage left here comes the Nuge!
TN: Laughs. Well, you look at these kinds of events and if you stopped to think that if I stopped to avoid conflicting politics I would have had to give up the guitar in '57! (laughs) My buddies go, "Bill Maher, I wouldn't go on Bill Maher's God damned show!" And I go, "Whoa, wait a minute. What should I do, just go to an NRA show and just tell us how neat gun owners are?" Jocelyn Elders wouldn't have to teach masturbation any further than that! To the contrary, that is the exact arena I should be in. Should we have fought the Nazi's at delis? I don't think so. Fight the Nazi's while they are starching their brown shirts and kill 'em before they are dressed. That is where I do my best work. I have played for some of the biggest hippies and some of the biggest left-wing maniacs in the history of the world. I was on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone publisher) stands for the exact, lick for lick, Hitler gun policy. Lick for lick, yet his ancestors were slaughtered at the hands of a gun-controlling tyrant. I know that what Ted Nugent stands for is needed more emphatically on Politically Incorrect and in Rolling Stone Magazine and on Rock and Roll stations across this country than in any duck blind in Bay City Texas. That is where I pursue the beast. The beast doesn't live with the good people, you go to his foxhole and you kill him there. I am an infiltrating motherfucker, I am the Navy Seal of guitar playing and, I'll tell ya, I will find where you sleep and gut you while you are not looking.
DL: With a spoon?
TN: With a dull spoon just so you can feel it better.
TN: Did you see Ed Bradley when he interviewed Benjamin, Nathaniel Benjamin?
DL: No.
TN: Oh! It was over the top. It was like "Poor little murderer, are they treating you bad? You didn't really mean to pull the trigger and point it in the direction of that man did you? What did they make you say, little murderer?" Oh my God, it was fuckin' unbelievable! They were not interested in any truth. They were doing everything they could to circumvent justice, not to get to justice. That is the arena that you are in and me too, as a journalist, I write for twenty-eight publications now. That is why I do it because where I go the truth goes and I feel alone sometimes.
DL: Not in terms of real people, the man on the street.
TN: I know, not in the big world of reality but in the microcosm of journalism, holy shit am I a fish out of water.
DL: You have a re-issue of your "Greatest Hits" record out.
TN: Yeah, with the "Give me just a Little" single.
DL: Exactly. Is that song something that you pulled directly from the vault as is or did you scrub it up a bit?
TN: No, no. That was recorded this past spring. I was hunting pigs in Northern California, which is kind of foolish of me because all of the pigs are in Southern California (laughs), but I did kill a big pig with my bow and arrow up in Sonoma. I was doing some DAMN YANKEES stuff with Jack and Tommy and Michael and I had killed this big pig with my bow and we roasted it and were getting greasy and I invited Neal Schon over, we are old buddies. He was just getting ready to hit the road the next day with JOURNEY and he had brought his guitar to show me some stuff. He had a bunch of licks that he obviously couldn't use with JOURNEY (laughs), and he started jammin' in between bites of organic pork and this song came about from that jam session. We literally recorded it there that night, so it really is a spontaneous combustion brought about, once again, by a sharp stick from Uncle Ted. I am real proud of it. It is a great song and is being played all over the country.
DL: It certainly has been getting some air here.
TN: Yeah, that is exciting and once again, I defy all trends. I defy the stereotype of the board of directors of the NRA. I defy Rock and Roll guitar playing imagery. I continue to thrive in this industry in spite of it and don't think that I don't enjoy that! (laughs) I mean, I would do it just to piss 'em off but I do, do it because I believe in it and if it pisses them off, that is like a bonus. I get a kick out of it plus I have got so many other things going on. You have got to hear this new AEROSMITH tribute album. I did a version of "Rag Doll" that caused both Joe and Steven to squirm. It is a bad motherfucker, one of the best things that I have ever done.
DL: Did they (AEROSMITH) call you up and say, "Why the hell did you do that?"
TN: No! Actually, Joe came out and went deer hunting with me and he heard it and just shook his head. He went, "That is just so Nuge! That is an incredible take on it and I didn't think that you could do it that way." You know, I had the greatest rhythm section a guy could ever ask for in Tony Franklin and Vinnie Carullo, the drummer for STING, so it was two absolutely crazed virtuosos.
DL: Nugent with a fretless bass player, who would have thunk it?
TN: Oh, man! Tony and I deserve each other and he is a vegetarian kind of guy but boy he loved what I did to that. When you hear it you are just going to love it, it has got a great Mardi Gras kind of feel to it. And then I have the number one selling interactive CD ROM video game on the market today called "TED NUGENT: WILD HUNTING ADVENTURES" and, once again, the confluence of Rock and Roll and killing shit is my forte!(laughs) There I am killing shit and doing the soundtrack with a ruptured guitar on it. So, there is like a gazillion things going on.
DL: I'll say, this is the busiest retirement that I have ever heard of!
TN: Yeah, it is unnatural! But, there are so many opportunities, it is like, there are so many deer and so few arrows. I just keep pursuing the gusto. There is adventure, I am Lewis and Clark and there are still unnamed river valleys and I am gong there as we speak. I love it all.
DL: You have always been able to proffer advice for kids about your feelings on drugs and alcohol. . .
TN: Militantly.
DL: You obviously derived that militancy form somewhere, where or who influenced those attitudes?
TN: My Dad. My Dad was militant and a tyrant disciplinarian and God love him for it. Oh boy do I appreciate that because what is life without discipline? Track down any condition in America that is less than desirable and you know what, no discipline. Kids shooting each other? No discipline. Drug abuse? No discipline. Graffiti? No discipline. Recidivism? No discipline. Corruption? No discipline! It all goes back to discipline. I'll tell you what, read my article in the Detroit News about the boy who killed his deer and how I emphasized the discipline that is marksmanship and the discipline that is stealth, the discipline that is reading the ground and the game and the barometer and the instinct. That is what is wrong with America, discipline. I tribute my dads crazy(laughs) hard-handed fuckin' discipline. He went overboard and I try to balance it out by not beating the shit out of my kids, not that my Dad beat the shit out of us, he did not, but boy that is why we were good because we knew that we didn't want him too!(laughs) We knew that he was ready willing and able. It was like when Mayor Daly, he kept all of the looters form getting killed in Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic riots, you know how he did it? He gave a directive the night before that said that all of the looters will be killed. He gave the National Guard and all of the other law enforcement orders to "shoot to kill all looters." He saved them all, he kept them all from getting shot. Had he not done that they would have looted and thought that they could get away with it just like they did in Seattle. When you give a directive like "shoot to kill," they all stay fuckin' home! It is a great way to go about it. If you look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we didn't kill hundreds of thousands, we saved millions. The most minimum, conservative estimate on the death rate, had we not bombed those two cities, were in excess of ten times those casualties. That is what people have to do and that is what my Dad taught me. Obey the law because Jail sucks! That wasn't a tough one to figure out.
DL: It is tough with kids. We never thought we would spank our kids, a time out would do it but that just isn't realistic in practice.
TN: To a degree. That is step one. I got spanked and I think that it is important. I think that it is good. I have not spanked my kids. I have done a couple of slap sessions and a couple of really threatening howling sessions but that is important, God damn it! The happiest hunting dogs in the world are the ones that have got electric shock.(laughs) They stay right in that blind and sit nice, the other ones are running around like a**holes and end up getting shot and then no one is having any fun.
DL: Are your Mom and Dad still with us?
TN: No, my Mom died in '89 and my Dad died in '93.
DL: I am sorry to hear that. I remember reading your mom's column, "Ask Ma Nuge."
TN: Wasn't that great?
DL: It really was.
TN: It is important to know that you can still be the Motor City Madman and still have a proper, loving mother-son relationship and that was really what the real underlying message was.
DL: Are you still stumping for Vernors?
TN: (Laughing) I love that shit! In fact it is kind of cute, because it was my birthday yesterday and Christmas is coming up and I bet that I have got a hundred cases of that new Vernors in bottles because I always used to rave on the radio how much I loved Vernors in glass bottles instead of the plastic bottles so everybody is giving me these new commemorative bottles. I just love that shit! In fact I cook with it a lot, I use it as a marinade. I saw Aretha Franklin on Martha Stewart and Aretha had this glaze that she made for her hams out of Vernors. I was so proud of that bitch! I said "Go Aretha, that is my Detroit girl!" I love that shit man, I wish that I had some right here with me now. It has been on my rider for all of my career and we can find it in a lot of places now.
DL: So, you don't tip over tables if they substitute Canada Dry or something?
TN: No, I have always been a sweetheart, I have never been a vandal.
DL: Never pulled a Van Halen?
TN: I have never pulled that stuff. You know, that is just part of my upbringing , I just can't destroy things, never have, never will. That is not how you can be cool. Be cool by leaving the gate with six cheerleaders, that is how you can be cool!(laughs) Pre-'89, (for me) I have to clarify that!
DL: Who is the band going to be for this New Years Eve gig in Pontiac?
TN: Michael Lutz on bass guitar and vocals, you know, the original BROWNSVILLE STATION boy. We actually perform "Smokin' in the Boy's Room" and it is out of control. Mr. Tommy Aldridge on drums. He is probably the greatest drummer that ever lived. And of course my favorite cheerleader, Chief, the 1 ton South Dakota buffalo right between my legs where everybody wants to be! God Damn! Have you ever seen me ride that buffalo out on stage?
DL: No.
TN: Holy shit, people are going to poop blood. It is going to be awesome, we are all excited about it.
Written by David Lee Wilson

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