Ted Nugent: We Spoke to Him Right Before That Controversial Obama Rant
See also: Ted Nugent's Still a "Special Deputy" to Sheriff Joe Arpaio (2012)
See also: Ted Nugent Talks Guns, Meth, and Hippies Before NRA Convention in Phoenix (2009)
Ted Nugent doesn't need much of an introduction. To put it lightly, he's intimidating. It has nothing to do with him being so outspoken or the fear he could jokingly pull an assault rifle on me for not agreeing with his politics (which, more often than not, I don't).
It has to do with his musically prowess: he started playing guitar in 1956, inspired by the wild-man sounds of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters, and has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. For many, he's the world's number-one guitar showman and has performed on stage more than 6,000 times, setting venue attendance records year after year, from 1977 to 2008.
Say what you will about his loud political beliefs -- and believe us, we have plenty of thoughts on his hyperbolic rants -- but come on, who doesn't appreciate the Amboy Dukes' psychedelic masterpiece "Journey to the Center of the Mind" and the raging "Cat Scratch Fever"?
But he's hit a bit of a rough patch lately. A mere 12 hours after this interview, he stated he would either be "dead or in jail by this time next year" if President Obama was re-elected, and the joke led to a stern sit-down with the Secret Service, which in turn led to the cancellation of his Fort Knox concert appearance. Then several astute media outlets pointed out that he admittedly had sex with minors during his heyday. And then, to top it all off, the prolific outdoorsman was found guilty of illegally shooting and killing a bear in May 2009. And no doubt he's quite cranky about the fact that he was reprimanded with two years' probation and a special condition that he can't hunt or fish in Alaska or any U.S. Forest Service lands for a year.
Thank God I interviewed him before all that happened.
But whether you love him for his rock 'n' roll guitar-playing that first made him a star in the '70s, or feel that his conservative commentary has long overshadowed those days, there's no doubt about it: Ted Nugent likes to be loud.
Up on the Sun talked with Ted Nugent about those damn politics (of course), the current state of rock 'n' roll, what he would do differently in his career, and 40-plus years of unbridled rockin' out.
Up on the Sun: How's the current tour going?
Ted Nugent: My band is so good, so tight, so powerful, so berserk, so passionate, so dedicated that it is an absolute certainty that this will be the greatest tour of my life. We ain't right.
You've been a presence in the music world since the 1960s. What do you think is the key to success in the music industry, and how has it changed since you started out?
My cravings and fiery passion for that magical, mystical all-American grinding soundtrack of uppity defiance was defined by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bo Diddley. It all took control of my musical dreams, cold-cocked me from the get-go, and grows exponentially every year. I have been surrounded by world-class monster musical masters in all my bands from the beginning, and my current band of Greg Smith, Derek St. Holmes, and Mick Brown represent every guitar player's fantasy, every song, every jam, every concert every night. We are a force to reckon with.
What is one of your favorite records and why?
It is impossible to name a single recording as my favorite, whether mine or so many others'. My two-hour set each night is a firestorm of insanely intense high-energy soul music throttling. I have so many killer songs; I love them all.
If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?
I would have waited longer between solo albums due to the maniacal recording and touring schedule on my band and me. We were so inebriated on celebrating our music that we were incapable of knowing that our management were clueless as to the nonstop pressures of nonstop music, especially with the crazed animal intensity of our dedication to the music.
What's something you know now that you wish you knew 30 years ago?
That managers and lawyers and accountants can be soulless criminal thieves of the lowest order.
My cravings and fiery passion for that magical, mystical all-American grinding soundtrack of uppity defiance was defined by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bo Diddley.
How do you feel about the current state of rock music? Do you worry that the peak of rock 'n' roll has passed and younger generations will never relate to that kind of music?
That we unleash my 50th year of unbridled rock-outs in 2012 is proof positive that genuine music lovers and fun gluttons will always show up for bands that put their heart and soul into their music and performances. I love Kid Rock, Dave Grohl, and a few others, but the best of the best erupted from the soulful bands of the '60s and '70s.
Who is one of your favorite guitarists of all time? Or, I'd love to hear if you have an "old" and "new" favorite guitarist.
Chuck Berry and EVH, I suppose. But I would have to include SRV [Stevie Ray Vaughan], Bo Diddley, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Jimmy McCarty, [Jeff] Beck, [Eric] Clapton, [Jimmy] Page, Jimi [Hendrix], Ronnie Montrose, Rick Derringer, Derek St. Holmes, Ricky Medlocke, Johnny Winter, Joe Perry, Angus Young, John Sykes . . . so so many!
You've been bow-hunting since the early '50s, before you even played guitar. I heard you're a fan of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. What has been your most impressive feat with a bow over the years?
I've celebrated the physics of spirituality discipline of the mystical flight of the arrow my entire life. Aim small, miss small is the definitive lesson for a higher level of awareness that drives quality of life on all levels. I am not the greatest shot in the world, but I've never bought chicken. My bow-hunting lifestyle is all about how close I can get, not how far I can shoot, but I have pulled off some doozies in my 63 years.