Ted Nugent lives by a simple credo: “You just gotta have the … attitude.” He’s got a point.
His biggest hit, “Cat Scratch Fever,” “the number one guitar lick in the history of the world,” according to Nugent, is one of those songs that when you hear it out of the blue necessitates an immediate volume boost. Kind of like Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You,” or that classic crooked chord that opens The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” it is irresistible.
Nugent is a controversial character – a likely descendent of Gengis Khan, possibly separated at birth from Oakland Raiders linebacker Ted “The Mad Stork” Hendricks. He grew up in Detroit Rock City, and is an outspoken conservative and advocate of the right to bear arms, from carbines to crossbows. Still going strong as he approaches his 70th birthday, he tours regularly and delivers a high voltage show with .22 gauge hits like “Stranglehold,” “Dog Eat Dog” and “Snakeskin Cowboys.”
I saw him a few years ago at a Manhattan club, where he opened with The Star Spangled Banner and closed with Chuck Berry. He’s proud to be an American, and he’ll be in Santa Clarita to light the Independence Day fuse with a July 1 performance at The Canyon. Loaded for bear, I recently caught up with Nugent via email, and he did not disappoint.
SCG: I met and interviewed you in 1975 in Pittsburgh when you were touring The Blue Album, ONE OF THE GREATEST RECORDS EVER MADE, in support of Aerosmith on the “Toys in the Attic” tour. Incredible show! We spoke at a hotel and then I got into a van with you, your band and a driver who – and I will never forget this – got lost driving to the gig. Your (then) teenaged narrator guided us there. It was FANTASTIC!
TED: Ahhhhhhh … the stimulating memories of yore! Making them every damn day!
SCG: So, should one kill ‘em and grill ‘em, or whack ‘em and stack ‘em?
TED: Both are quality of life imperatives. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness begins and ends with proper diet and ultimately, the rugged individual hands-on, self-sufficiency pursuit thereof! Nothing is better than natural, organic, free-range, renewable, deeeeeelicious wild game killed and grilled like the reasoning predators we are!
SCG: How would the dictionary define ‘cat scratch fever?’
TED: I believe the status quo dictionary already has this as a virus brought about by the scratch of a nasty, clawed feline. However, we in the adventure column of life know better, don’t we?
SCG: Who were the first and last bands you blew off the stage?
TED: They were indeed the (first) and the last bands that dared follow me. Name them, name them all. Nobody can follow me and my all-American fire-breathing, soul brother, funk brother, blood brother, and Big-Fun-Dirty-Groove-Noize bandmates Greg Smith and Jason Hartless. The music makes us do it. We are IT!
SCG: When you walk into a room, do you still say to yourself, “Here we go, look out below?”
TED: That has never been my entrance battle cry, but starting from now on, it will be.
SCG: What does a snakeskin cowboy eat for breakfast?
TED: Each other.
SCG: How can rock ‘n’ roll Make American Great Again?
TED: Pursued and performed with maximum heart, soul, piss and vinegar super-groove like we masters do it, killer music represents and provides the ultimate escape from pain-in-the-ass life moments, which are aplenty. At the same time, passionate authoritative soul music cleanses the soul and fortifies the spirit. I am living proof 70 years later!
SCG: Are you The King of the Deplorables?
SCG: This is The Music Made Me Do It Tour … Do what, exactly?
TED: Killer music like mine invigorates the mind, body, spirit and soul, maximizing the most passionate pursuit of happiness and overall quality of life. Killer music is the motivational soundtrack to the human experience.
SCG: Thank you for your time!
TED: No, thank (you)! I bet the music made you do it, too.
Don’t miss Nugent in the adventure column of life at The Canyon July 1.