Ted Nugent – the Ultimate Ted Talk with the Motor City Mad Man Part 1

Ted Nugent loves to talk! We got him on the horn and over the course of an hour. We talked about his creative process (no, he doesn’t write songs…), his musical roots (yes, everything to do with Detroit), his musical history, and of course, his politics.

Love him or hate him, he held us spellbound for an hour. Catch the first half hour of our talk here and carry on with Part 2 HERE!

And for those unable to watch or listen, we’ve transcribed it below, along some great Ted Nugent videos and photos.

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TN:  Greetings to you. You know, I’ve never been to New Zealand. I know I got a lot of real rock and roll music lovers there and so a big Greetings to everybody there and I am so heartbroke that I’ve never been to New Zealand. And because I’m so allergic to travel I’ll probably never get to New Zealand. So, let’s celebrate real music lovers’ music right now .

MD:  Let’s do it man. I gotta say I saw you perform because I’m as you can tell I have an American accent so I am an American person. I moved here a long time ago though, but I saw you at Rich Stadium in June of 1977. That’s right with Stars, Blue Oyster Cult and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Just wondering if you remember that?

TN:  Man, me and my boys stole the show, because nobody could follow Ted Nugent’s band cuz I’ve always had the greatest musicians. Plus, nobody else has a Wang Dang Sweet Poontang or a Stranglehold. So, what are you gonna do you know what I mean?

MD:  I hear ya. It was a wild show.

TN: I’m sure you remember it, because at every concert my bands have been so dedicated. So hyper fire-breathing music maniacs that every gig is the most important gig in our life. You saw that that night. We never do a gig. We unleash the beast. I’ve done 6,766 rock outs. And every one was the most important fire-breathing celebration of Chuck Berry and James Brown and Bo Diddley and Motown, Funk Brothers. Every night, every song, every concert.

MD: There you go. No, you’re absolutely right. It was it was a fine day all around, I must say.

TN:  Great bands, too. I mean, I love those bezel heads, they’re always really good, especially Lynyrd Skynyrd, my buddies. And right now, in 2022, the insanity of 2022, I’m making some of the best music of my life with the greatest musicians. Greg Smith from Pennsylvania. Right Jason Hartless from Detroit on drums. I’m the luckiest guitar player in the world with the best rhythm section ever.

MD:  Right? Right. Yes, it’s Detroit Muscle. Is that right?

TN:  What a great, great celebration of real music that is. Yeah, we’re very proud of it.

MD:  So is the record all done? I’ve heard a couple of tracks but they’ve only been kind of leaked out so tell me.

TN:  Oh yeah, it’s all done. We recorded it in the sacred swamp barns of Michigan. And every time we strap on our instruments it’s just a bunch of horny teenagers with their first loud amplifier it’s it really is out of body. The guys put so much fire and piss and vinegar into Episode proud of the songs. You’ve probably heard Come and Take It. It’s a love song The Tyrants wrote.

I send a copy to Beto O’Rourke and Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden. I sent it in suppository form with a with a self-enclosed ramrod. But anyhow, Come and Take It was the first single. And then we have a new one called American Campfire, which is just a grinding classic rhythm and blues rock and roll masterpiece, if I do say so myself. That’s in the great, great tradition of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Motown, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, all the founding fathers of the most important music in the world. We’re very, very proud of it.

MD:  How did you get into James Brown and Wilson Pickett and that stuff when you’re growing up?

TN:  Well, I was born in Detroit, Marty, in 1948. Yep, Lord have mercy. I mean, Les Paul had just electrified the guitar a couple years before I was born. Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy and Lonnie Mack showed us what to do with it.

Chuck Berry - Ted Nugent poster 1971
Chuck Berry – Ted Nugent poster 1971

And those tones and those, those lyrical type guitar phraseology is still the holy grail to this day. I mean, you pick your favourite guitar player, whether it’s, you know, Billy Gibbons or Eddie Van Halen, or Rickey Medlocke, or Angus Young or whoever it may be, right, we’re all we’re all sons of the James Brown work ethic, tightness, musical soulfulness, but most powerfully as guitar players what Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley established. You know, I don’t care if you love Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck or, no matter who you love, which we all love, Stevie Ray Vaughan, it all comes from Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. And we all put our own personal stamp on it.

But born in Detroit, my God, the force of nature, that the Motown Funk Brothers established. I mean, it was a brand-new expression of defiant uppity, fun, very infectious grinding and grooving and rhythmical, you know, musical adventure.

And then the vocalist I mean, I was inspired by Billy Lee in the Rivieras. My band The Lords won the battle of the bands in 1963. We played the Wadley Casino in near Wixom, Michigan, and Billy Lee in the Rivieras, who eventually changed their name a few years later to Mitch Ryder and the Detroit wheels…

MD: There you go.

TN: They were playing James Brown music and Wilson Pickett music and Stax/Volt and  Booker T and the MGs and certainly Motown stuff, as was my band The Lords. That was the guiding force of all of our favourite music. I don’t care what your favourite band is. You cannot miss the James Brown soulfulness, the Wilson Pickett outrage, the Funk brother groove, the Chuck Berry electricity and Bo Diddley grind. So, all of that mystical musical cocktail was omnipresent and omnipotent. And it guided all the musicians to try to be like these.

And again, the best word to describe that music was authoritative it you couldn’t not listen to it. So uppity and, and remember, it was a representation by those black heroes, the people who invented it, they were celebrating freedom, in a very defiant, autonomous declaration of independence because they were tortured by the worst curse of mankind – slavery. So that angst and that sorrow and that heartbreak and anger that was in the blues in the gospel, now it had electricity, it had the Emancipation Proclamation, the middle finger was on fire, it was beautiful!

Well, I was in the whirlwind of that. And I was just so enamoured with that kind of music that I just practiced and practiced and the bands practiced and practiced. And in Detroit, it was very, very competitive, to be tighter, to be more energised to be more groove oriented. So, it had, you know, there was there was silly bands like The Stooges and The Up and some of those bands that were not really very good musicians. God love em and I hope they were happy. But then you had Bob Seger and The Last Heard and Grand Funk Railroad and Brownsville Station, and certainly the Amboy Dukes. And we really wanted to have musical authority to make it sound powerful like our heroes.

So that’s why that music to this now we get Kid Rock and even though I can’t stand Eminem, he does have a musical authority to him. His political authority is nothing but embarrassing. I mean, it’s like sheet music, but I can’t stand rap and hip hop, it’s, I want really black musical authority. I’ll play James Brown music, right, that that intensity is still alive and well today, no doubt about it.

Ted Nugent - Amboy DukesMD:  I will.

Speaking of the Amboy Dukes, I rummaged through my collection found this bad boy, a killer record and you’re referred to as The Duck.

TN:  Well, that was just some stupid pre-teenage silliness, where I wore loafers. My mom and dad – I went to a Catholic grade school. And you had to have a certain dress code. And even though you know you had the greasers in the hoodlums with their Puerto Rican pointed toed high heeled shoes, and then the Beatle boots came up by 62 or 63.

But I had on loafers. My parents made me wear loafers I was only when I had the Amboy Dukes I started The Lords when I was like 12, so the god, the lead singer John Brake, rest his soul, he died here last year, that’s great great musical power. He made fun of my school type shoes and said they looked they looked like duck feet. Whatever! Whatever! So, he named me The Duck. He also named me Fire Fingers McDuck.

MD:  Fire Fingers McDuck, all right. So when you look on the early days of the Amboy Dukes and Journey the Center of the Mind and all that, what do you feel? How do you feel about it now?

TN:  How proud can a guy be? On that first Amboy Dukes album, I was 18. Yeah, we played that. (Plays riff.) How could you not look at the Goosebumps? And Journey the Center of the Mind – I mean I’m 18 and I got this female dream going on. And this musical dream and the energy and the defiance factor and I just went you know… (plays riff) and I had such a grind and I just discovered the (plays riff) and then that damn lead! I don’t know where those notes came from. But I was all instinctive. (Plays riff.)

Ted Nuget
MD: I’m getting Goosebumps!

TN: I look back at all that believe me with social media now. Um, and the communication I have every day on my Facebook. I want everybody to come there because people who really like work ethic, like positive energy and positive spirit, like exploratory, adventurous soulful music. I couldn’t be more proud people still, we still hear Journey To The Center Of The Mind on the radio. Yeah, and people are referencing the Amboy Dukes wherever I may travel, they love the Damn Yankees and they love Stranglehold.

There’s a lot of love when you create music from the heart and right the balls and from the spirit. And I think it’s universally appreciated and quite honestly cherished. So, I appreciate it and I share, because before I’m a guitar player, Marty I’m a music lover. I just love music so much I didn’t want to just listen to it. I’m kind of like the founding fathers. They thought they could experiment in self-government. Well, I thought I would experiment in self-music so I made my own music and here I am all these 100 years later. Whatever.

MD:  There you go. And so, when you made the transition from The Amboy Dukes and being your own solo thing did you have to like rethink who you were musically or anything like that? Are did you just go for it?

TN:  I got it. You know, there’s a moment in The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise, where he’s trying to perfect the age-old art of samurai oneness with the spirit of Zen, the martial arts of being, being the path of your sword, not the edge of your sword. But the the journey of your sword. It’s a martial arts thing. And the white boy, Tom Cruise, was fumbling and the samurai master went ‘Too many minds.’ You can overthink stuff, the best things in life should be instinctual. And because I am an archer, I shoot my bow and arrow every day since I could walk. I’m it I’m fascinated by the gifts that God gave me and the application to bull’s eyes, literally and figuratively.

Ted Nugent

And with music, I’ve never sat down and thought about chords. I’ve never thought about patterns or scales. I don’t even know it. I probably bumped into a scale now and then but I couldn’t play a scale for you. Um, my music I think again, what the primal scream of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters did, that Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and Little Richard moved forward, and that The Beatles and The Stones and Grand Funk Railroad, and The Amboy Dukes, and all these great bands – ZZ Top and Montrose and all your favourite bands in the world. You all move that? That natural, organic, primal instinct, it should come out in your music.

Now do some people sit down and write songs and contemplate social considerations? Well, pity them! I think they call it; I think they call it country music. What a joke that is. But anyhow. No, I never think about when I’m going to shoot that deer in the heart. If you start thinking, you’re going to twitch. Um, I imagine it’s not unlike sex; you should follow your instincts. And if you overthink it, you might not have as good a sex as you should have had.

And with music. Again, I think all of your favourite songs whether it’s AC DC, or ZZ Top, or Van Halen, or I don’t care who it is, or all the original Black heroes. It’s so instinctive. It’s so spontaneous. A guy asked me, I do interviews all the time because I love talking about my music. I love talking about good things. My music is the soundtrack for all good things. And they asked me how I write songs. And you know, I’ve never sat down ever with a pad of paper to pencil and went ‘Hey, I think I’ll write a song today. Golly, what key should be in? What should the tempo be?’ No, I’ve never.

I don’t write songs, I ejaculate them. I just pick up the guitar and I consider the best musical delivery and the creative journey to be best, out of body, spontaneous, instinctual, as organic is one can possibly be. And I’d like to think that if you listen to the opening lick of Journey to the Center of the Mind, or the way we play Baby, Please Don’t Go, when we are teenagers. Or the opening lick to Stranglehold for God’s sakes. Or the Fred Bear song. Have you heard the Fred Bear song over in New Zealand?

MD: No.

TN: Oh, dear God in Heaven! My friend Fred Bear died; he was my hero archer. He was a driving force of conservation and resource reverence, venison, adulation and respect. And when he died, I sat down one day and I just went (Plays riff and sings.)

There I was,
Back in the wild again.
I felt right at home,
Where I belong.

That song is requested more than Cat Scratch Fever.

MD: Really?

Ted NugentTN: More than Stranglehold more than Journey to the Center of the Mind. It has touched the core of so many people. I literally sang the song barely surviving this tsunami of tears. My wife Shemane held me as I sang the song without writing anything down. The song is Fred Bear about a great, great man named Fred Bear, who reintroduced the responsibility of resource stewardship, and environmental accountability, through the samurai art of bow hunting, hunting with a bow and arrow. And that in many ways, yeah…

Have skinny beautiful, dangerous, sexy girls been an inspiration? Hello!!! Um, but, but there is the physics of spirituality. And the twain should collide, they should connect and when everything is right, they do. And I’d like to, in a very simplest of ways, attribute my grinding, earthly, primal scream, grooving animal breeding soundtrack music life, to that purity, the purity of – I kill my own food. I gut and skin and clean and butcher and cook my own food. I am of the earth. And I’d like to think that the sound of… I mean, just think again, Stranglehold you just heard that very compelling Fred Bear lick. I have there’s no other lick in the world like this. (Plays riff)

Get the hell out of here! I played that song a billion times. And as I played it just now, it was as raw and, and, and gutty and as animalistic as it’s ever been. Because my songs and my licks and my musical dreams and visions – they have a life of their own and I don’t have to think about it. When Shemane gets out of the shower, I don’t have to think about nothing.

MD: Gotcha.

TN: I hope you’re with me on that. Now, I know you’re in Texas, but do you go back to Detroit very often?

MD: Oh, yeah, I’m a Detroit guy. I mean, I still have my Sacred Family hunting grounds. We have beautiful swamp and a fend and a marsh and forest and agricultural ground. My son Toby and his wonderful family live there. My daughter Sasha and her family come there part time. I go there at the end of every tour; we always wrap up our summer tours in Detroit because I am the Detroit guy. I love Detroit! But Detroit politically has become such an embarrassment.

MD: Why is that?

TN: It’s become basically a suburb of San Francisco. I mean, it’s just absolutely toxic what the liberals have done to the most productive work ethic epicentre of mankind. Detroit was the arsenal of democracy when I was born. That’s not my term. That’s the accurate term that Detroit represented. We stopped building cars and trucks and started building B-29s and howitzers, to destroy the evil Japanese punks, and the evil Nazi devils and good over evil was so celebrated. It still is in my life every day.

But I still spent a lot of time in Michigan. We have our annual family hunting season – October November, September, October, November every year. It’s a sacred time. It’s a mystical, magical, spiritual celebration around the campfires in Michigan. But we live in Texas full time, and the hunting is even better in Texas. The deer seasons longer, there’s a more general bag limit.

MD:  And that’s why I can’t believe you haven’t been to New Zealand. Supposedly the hunting here is amazing.

TN:  It is! I’m so hard broke I wouldn’t. I’ve been invited to come and hunt in New Zealand and Australia for the last 50 years and I want to so bad. But again, I’m so allergic to travel, I still tour which is why I’m allergic to travel. Because I love my dogs. I love my bed. I love my bathroom. I love mice, my forest I like to be home. I like to I love to be with Shemane and the dogs and after you’ve done 6766 concerts, um, your bedroom is very alluring. My bedroom is very alluring.

MD:  I’m sure it is. So, what’s the past couple of years been like for you with the pandemic business and not being able to tour as much and all that. How has it affected you?

TN:  Well, you know, viruses are manageable. Tyrants not so much.

MD: Okay.

TN: Um, we have now witnessed the most evil, toxic underbelly of humankind. In these power-abusing, criminal oath-violating monsters that infest the government of the United States, the media, academia, big tech are just absolute dishonest punks. Fact checkers! Eat my ass you’re not checking facts. You’re throwing out liberal Che Guevara. You know, Hitler opinions. You’re a bunch of punks.Ted Nugent

MD:  I’m not sure that Hitler was liberal but carry on.

TN:  But his policies, the policies of the same thing as Zucker punk. And then Bill Gates. I mean, what’s going on in your neighbour there in Australia? That’s, that’s more Hitler-like than Ronald Reagan-like. The point is, is that the abuse of power is so offensive. It’s so glaringly dishonest. And so, I fight like a son of a bitch because I think even guitar players qualify as ‘we the people’. And I believe that God gave me the right to experiment self-government. I’d just like to experiment the crowbar upside the head of punks that abuse their power and violate their sacred oath to the Constitution.

So, I’m very involved with my experiment in self-government. I’m very involved with self-evident truth, logic and common sense. And I bludgeon relentlessly, the abusers out there, and that’s why the left and the commies and the Marxists hate Ted Nugent. I couldn’t be more proud. I drive them crazy because they’re incapable of debating me. They can’t debate me on any subject because I chew on their family’s tree and spit toxic sod dust in their face, because I got all the evidence and all the truth, logic and common sense in my side.

All they got is hate and lies. Just by saying that, they’d go ‘he’s a racist.’ And they’ve lost their minds. They’re absolutely hysterical. They’re funny, they’re more funny than Richard Pryor, when his Afro caught fire, and that was the funniest thing in the history of the world. He made a career out of it. But they’re liars. They’re thieves.

Ted Nugent

Look, look at what Fidel Castro was doing up in Canada right now. I mean, Justin Trudeau, what a tyrannical punk sicking his jackbooted thugs on peaceful protesters, his own citizens. I mean, I don’t I don’t even, we could be here for 100 days, I’d never run out of examples of horrible, horrible evil, rotten people taking advantage of their subjects.

MD:  Well, we have a similar thing going on down here in Wellington or capital, where a group of people who were anti mandate and anti-vax and all that are kind of gathering around and, and holding court for a couple of weeks, and it has been a stalemate down there. And there are various opinions about why this allegedly minority group can kind of hold their views over the rest of the country.

TN:  Because the rest of the country have become sheep. Let me let me clarify a little something for you, Marty. It’s not a vaccine. Vaccines protect you from the designated virus. This is not a vaccine. It is a weaponised Communist Chinese Wu Han virus that my punk ass government financed and it doesn’t protect anybody from anything. There are more casualties from the shot than from the virus and that’s not Ted Nugent’s hunch. That’s the frontline doctors.

Those are 1000s If not 10s of 1000s of professional accredited virologist and epidemiologists. I am merely sharing the information that I got from the experts. And anybody going ‘I wouldn’t listen to Ted Nugent for medical advice’. I wouldn’t either. I would go to an accredited virologist, an epidemiologist and that I would repeat their findings and if you don’t like that, you are a punk.

Whew! Ted’s renowned for his outspoken political views and whether you agree or disagree (and we tend to disagree with quite a few), he is fascinating. Click HERE for the second half of our Ted Talk… They don’t call him the Motor City Madman for nothing!

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