Political activist. NRA proponent. Hunter. Business entrepreneur. Former reality TV show star. Whatever label you give him, when Ted Nugent speaks, he makes news. But Nugent is at his best when he lets his guitar speak for him.
Over a 50-plus-year career, Nugent has carved out a permanent place in rock n’ roll history. He’s sold more than thirty million albums, performed nearly seven thousand shows, set concert attendance records all over the world, and is often placed high on lists of all-time great guitar players. But we can’t ignore the fact that Nugent has become known for his political views as much as for the music he plays.
That he gets so much attention for his conservative views is something Nugent doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time worrying about. Though he often seems to be speaking off the cuff, his views are usually well thought out and researched thoroughly.
“The bottom line is not speaking one’s mind,” he told Jambase. “Before the mouth opens, the brain feels a duty to sponge information, evidence, and facts, and always put them through the logic meter, based on good will and decency. So, when I do speak my mind it’s not just a knee-jerk reaction but a well-executed delivery of genuine, sincere research so that I know what the hell I’m talking about.”
While politics is clearly always on his radar, at nearly 70 years old, Nugent spends most of his time hunting. Music pays the bills but the pursuit of animals is his other true love. Of course, Nugent has some very definite opinions on hunting as well, opinions that can rub some people the wrong way. Though he hunts and kills beasts all across the world, Nugent’s love of animals and their place in nature seems to be genuine, whether you agree with his take or not.
“Let it be known to all people that hunting is perfect,” he said in an interview promoting his television show Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild. “Hunting is the last perfect environmentalism available to mankind. What we celebrate when we hunt is that the miracle of God’s creation is renewable annual sustainability that is absolutely perfect. That habitat that we share with the creatures that sustain us, physically and spiritually, is the very habitat that determines our quality of life because what hunters, fishers, and trappers have always known is that the quality of productivity and the condition of that wildlife habitat literally determines the condition of our air, soil and water quality.”
A frequent visitor to Fort Wayne and other area stages over the years, Nugent is a familiar face and voice to classic rock fans here. Songs like “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Stranglehold,” and “Fred Bear” are staples in the playlists of classic rock stations across the country, including our own WXKE.
On July 25, Nugent once again brings his no-holds-barred, no bull rock n’ roll show to the Foellinger Theater to the delight of many and the chagrin of some. With this show, fans can expect the expected. There won’t be a lot of surprises and you know Nugent won’t be apologetic about it because, as usual, he does what he wants and knows what the fans demand. There will be the requisite loud guitars, a lot of stage banter, some extreme jamming, audience interaction, and most of all, great songs. The other stuff is just white noise. Putting all other things aside, the songs are the reason to go to the show. The songs are the reason Ted Nugent is Ted Nugent.
When Nugent hits the stage, he shines in all his glory. All those years of performing has allowed the Motor City Madman to perfect his craft. The result is pure poetry in motion.
And while Nugent knows that his political views aren’t the same as the views of every member of his audience, he wants us to know that it’s OK to disagree because, in the end, it’s all about the music.
“I don’t really have many opinions, but I understand self-evident truth and I understand logic and I understand common sense and I find it very common and sensical across the land,” he told radio.com in a recent interview. “I don’t really care what you believe in. I mean, I do care because I’d like you to believe in the right things and the positive things and the good things, but I’m a public performer, so I can’t frisk the spirit of everybody that comes to my concerts. We don’t have to agree on anything except the music. I have friends that are liberals and I am slowly but surely fixing that, because I do have the remedy, but in the meantime we can shut up and jam and have a good musical get down. And we do. Every night.”
I don’t have many hunches anymore. I very rarely speak my opinion. I’d rather hear my observations of irrefutable occurrences, facts and, again, that dangerous ‘L’ word – logic. I dare to genuflect at the altar of logic, and someone who tries to pry my knee from the ground is gonna get a crowbar upside the head.
“Logic serves everybody in a positive way,” he continued. “It’s the abandonment of logic that’s created these squawking critics of me. All this energy, all this confidence, all this humility – because I’m humbled by logic – and all the music I’ve created, it was about defiance. I understood what Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry were singing about. I discovered it was about defiance and a celebration of life, and my music and my politics are one and the same. And what is politics other than an individual’s pursuit of happiness and demanding from our employees, i.e. elected officials, that they exercise good will, decency, and logic in their policymaking?”
Then in typical Nugent style, he adds, “That there is a question whether hunting is OK, or that hunting is proper, exists only in the minds of drug abusers and willfully and intelligently and spiritually challenged miscreants. If there is anything in the world that is universal, it is that hunting is perfect.”