Ted Nugent. The very name of this famous son of the Motor City conjures up different images to different people – hunting enthusiast, NRA spokesperson, TV host, author, American patriot, environmentalist, ultra-conservative, humanitarian, family man – and all of them are accurate.
Like all of us, Ted Nugent is a complex man with many sides, many moods and many opinions. Opinions he is famous for sharing whether one wants to hear them or not, because as Nugent puts it, “I’m all about good health, keeping fit and exercise. That includes exercising my First Amendment Right of Free Speech to help keep this country fit and healthy.”
But first and foremost, Ted Nugent is a rock ‘n’ roller known for his wholly unique stage entrances -- swinging on stage from a rope wearing a loin cloth, riding in atop a live buffalo, or in the earliest days jumping to the floor from a 25-foot stack of Marshall amplifiers – and for such high decibel hits as “Stranglehold,” “Motorcity Madhouse,” “Great White Buffalo,” “Free-For-All,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” and “Wango Tango,” which made him one of the most popular rock stars of the 1970s.
Nugent is spending much of this summer as he had last year, chugging across America as part of the triple-threat “Midwest Rock ‘N’ Roll Express Tour” with fellow Great Lakes-rooted rockers Styx and REO Speedwagon. In between those split-bill performances Nugent grants his own group no rest, opting to fill open dates with solo concerts like the one on May 16 at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville.
“I love playing the Michiana area because it takes me back to all those Amboy Dukes years when we were playing the Wild Goose shows,” said Nugent, adding how Star Plaza has become one of his favorite in the world to perform. “It’s not just that it’s a great venue, but it’s the great people there. We have a lot of good friends that we love to see when we play in Merrillville. A lot of my blood brothers are there.”
Nugent promises all the expected fan favorites will be heard when he and the band get to almost triple the length of their “Rock ‘N’ Roll Express” set because of being the only band on the bill. Along with those classics, a handful of new tunes will likely be featured including his latest single, “I Still Believe” (downloadable for free at TedNugent.com) one of the gonzo guitarist’s most powerful songs in years.
“The song came about during a spontaneous jam session,” said Nugent. “I’ve got an electric guitar and an amp in every corner of my house, right next to my guns. I’m always playing guitar and making demos of songs. Before shows, the whole band just jams and that’s where all the new songs like ‘I Still Believe’ actually come together amid all the energy, adrenaline and passion we have right before doing a live show.”
Nugent hopes to hear fans loudly singing along when they bust out that salute to the ideals of America and the American Dream.
“That song speaks from the heart, because I DO believe in this country despite everything,” declared Nugent. “I’m never too far from the heroes of this great land of ours, the good sons and daughters of the U.S. military, the brave firefighters and those in law enforcement. And the great American families out there who work hard and give and give to charities to help their fellow human beings, their fellow Americans, and their neighbors. These people represent the best America’s got and when I see all this positive energy and all the caring, I can’t help but believe that no matter how ugly things get, no matter how criminal our government is, that WE the PEOPLE, the caring, loving, giving, workaholics in America will prevail over the corruption and abuse of power going on. I still do believe that good will overcome evil.”
Nugent has always surrounded himself with top gun musicians throughout his career in the studio and on stage, but older fans always pined for the return of Derek St. Holmes, the voice behind most of Nugent’s biggest radio hits. St. Holmes first famously split from the group halfway through the “Free-For-All” sessions in 1976 which opened the door for a then unknown singer named “Meatloaf" who sang on five tracks including “Hammerdown,” “Street Rats” and “I Love You so I Told You a Lie.” A year later Meatloaf had the best-selling rock album of 1977 with “Bat Out Of Hell.”
St. Holmes recently returned to the fold. “Derek had popped up with us over the years at different shows but he’s been back with us full time for a while now and he’s singing better than ever,” said Nugent of having the prodigal son of rock ‘n’ roll back by his side at every show. “He brought such energy to those classic songs. Nobody can sing ‘Stranglehold’ or ‘Hey Baby’ or ‘Just What The Doctor Ordered’ like Derek St. Holmes. It’s also wonderful to have Derek back, because he is a great guitarist, in fact he’s probably one of the most underrated guitar players in the world.”
Although Ted’s band is in peak form with the return of St. Holmes and with the monster rhythm section of drummer Mick Brown and bassist Greg Smith, and some new songs are coming together, there is no calendar date for a new Nugent album at present.
“There’s just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week to get everything I want and need to do done,” mused the 64-year-old fit as a fiddle guitar-slinger. Lest we forget he continues to wear all those other hats mentioned, keeping busy in other creative and impacting ways.
“Our ‘Spirit of the Wild’ show continues to be #1 on The Outdoor Channel 25 years running, we stay very busy with our Ted Nugent Camp for Kids charity, our Freedom Angels military charity, I’m still writing books and I’m always writing articles for a bunch of publications both in print and online, and I’ve got to block out time for hunting naturally.”
When not flexing his bow out on the blood trail or flexing his creative skills through music, the printed word or in front of a TV camera, Nugent and his family spend a lot of time visiting military bases, fighting for responsible conservation/environmental governing and laws, and advocating for the National Rifle Association.
Though he is now well into his AARP card carrying years, Ted Nugent remains a force of nature as wild and free as any modern day man can hope to be. Dare to keep up with Nuge and his projects at: www.tednugent.com.