Unpopular Opinion: Ted Nugent Is a National Treasure
Ted Nugent, keeping America free with his guitar since 1964
So I guess Ted Nugent was in the news again. He wrote some kind of list about why you should support Donald Trump, which upset certain people, as every move the Nuge makes is wont to do.
But let’s put the man’s politics aside for a second (though regular readers know that Ted and I are part of the same vast right-wing conspiracy). Ted Nugent is a national treasure. You either get it or you probably really like Arcade Fire and get your news from John Oliver.
Nugent's first band, The Amboy Dukes, were one of the more underappreciated acts of American garage punk. “Journey to the Center of the Mind” is the best song about doing so much acid you don’t know which way is up, performed by a man who inspired the straight-edge movement.
Oh, you didn’t know? Best crack open your copy of American Hardcore. Ted Nugent was beloved by what would later become the American hardcore scene. This was especially true among those in the nation’s capital who would pioneer the straight-edge movement. You see, kids, the Motor City Madman is one of the most notoriously anti-drug, anti-drink, anti-smoke rock & rollers this side of Gene Simmons.
As an animal lover, I’m not going to weigh in on the Nuge’s hunting preserve. All I’ll say is that, like most hunters, he donates to conservationist causes and has probably done more to help animals than PETA and its pile of dead dogs ever has.
His solo career speaks for itself. Both Derek St. Holmes and Charlie Huhn were perfectly capable on the mic, but it was Uncle Ted’s guitar work that really made the band what it was. His fills on “Cat Scratch Fever” and the solo on “Stranglehold” are what I think of when I think of Ted Nugent. And hey, he’s the man who came up with the phrase “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.”
Double Live Gonzo! and Intensities in Ten Cities stand up as two of the best live records of the 1970s. Even when I saw him in the late ’90s opening for KISS on one of their “final” tours, he was still killing it. The man shot a guitar with a crossbow and said, “I’d like to see Ted Kennedy try and take this one.” Classic Nuge!
But wait, there’s more! It’s not exactly a secret so much as an oft-forgotten fact that the Nuge was in supergroup Damn Yankees with two guys who were previously in Night Ranger and Styx, who will probably be the subject of one or another love letter in this column sometime in the future. The point is, in the late ’80s, Nugent attached himself to two guys from a basically dead form of rock & roll (that whole not-quite-heavy-metal REO Speedwagon thing) and formed an actual band. The result were two decent albums, one soaring power ballad (“High Enough”) and one killer melodic hard-rock jam about being young by a bunch of middle-aged dudes (“Coming of Age”).
Most of what the man has done since then has been pretty so-so, but I do recommend checking out God, Guns and Rock & Roll. It’s time Ted Nugent started getting the respect and deference that’s his due. If you don’t believe me, head on down to Amoeba with a couple bucks and grab yourself a copy of Cat Scratch Fever.
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