Amboy DukesThe Amboy Dukes' second single was "Journey to the Center of the Mind", which Nugent claimed he didn't know was about drug use. The Amboy Dukes (1967), Journey to the Center of the Mind (1968) and Migration (1969) sold moderately well, establishing a fan base for Nugent and the other Amboy Dukes. Personnel changes nearly wrecked the band, which became known as Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes. Though the group's studio recordings rarely sold well, the band managed to keep a large following.
Ted Nugent dropped the band name and signed to Epic Records in 1975, with Derek St. Holmes (guitar, vocals), Rob Grange (bass) and Cliff Davies (drums) as his back-up. Ted Nugent was his first solo release; the album was a success among the heavy metal community. Personnel problems led to St. Holmes' departure from the band before the recording of Free For All (1976), with Meat Loaf, then unknown, replacing him. St. Holmes returned for Cat Scratch Fever (1977); the album was another hit, as was the titular single. Nugent had begun dressing as a caveman for live shows, which were growing more and more extravagant. Double Live Gonzo (1978) furthered his fame, though personality and financial problems continued to drive band members away.
During the 1980s, Nugent released a series of generally ignored albums. Near the end of the decade, however, Nugent formed a supergroup, Damn Yankees, with Jack Blades (bass, vocals, formerly of Night Ranger), Tommy Shaw (guitar, vocals, formerly of Styx) and Michael Cartellone (drums). Damn Yankees (1990) was a hit, selling 5 million albums mostly due to the Shaw-Blades songwriting team, which yielded a power-ballad, "High Enough." Damn Yankees toured on the heels of the first Persian Gulf War, which Nugent endorsed by shooting flaming arrows at Saddam Hussein in effigy. Several police complaints and at least one arrest resulted from Nugent's newly discovered patriotism. Nevertheless, they were a top concert attraction in the early '90s. However, another Damn Yankees release, 1992's Don't Tread, was unable to sustain similar momentum.
Back to Solo
Returning to his solo career, Nugent released Spirit of the Wild, his best-reviewed album in quite some time. A series of archival releases came out in the 1990s, keeping Nugent's name in the national consciousness; he also began hosting a radio show in Detroit and owns several hunting-related businesses. He also created and hosted an outdoors television show, also called Spirit of the Wild, that currently airs on The Outdoor Channel. Attracting attention for his commentary on issues ranging from gun control to biodiversity, Nugent is a regular guest on popular programs like Larry King, Howard Stern, and Politically Incorrect.
Beginning in the '90s Nugent has become quite popular for his conservative and libertarian beliefs and his anti-drug and anti-alcohol stances. In a 1977 interview with People magazine, Nugent admitted smoking "50 joints in the '60s" and having tried cocaine "once." He is a national spokesman for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E.), advocating the "natural highs" to be found in an outdoor lifestyle, and for the past 15 years has hosted the Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids which combines a curriculum of hands-on hunting, conservation, archery and a strong anti-drug message, aimed mainly at under privelaged inner city children. He is also a spokesman for National Field Archers Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Big Brothers & Big Sisters.
Although he holds some libertarian beliefs on issues such as Second Amendment rights, Nugent has been outspoken in his contempt and violent attitude toward those who use drugs, illegal or otherwise, saying that his "level of awareness" is what compelled him to "turn down the drooling, puking, dying punks with their drugs and their alcohol and tobacco," and claiming to "have busted more hippies' noses than all the narcs in the free world. I hate drug abuse." (Source: National Review Online, May 17, 2002, transcript of interview with Larry Kudlow and Jim Cramer.)
An avid hunter, Ted Nugent was a frequent visitor to Canada until the government of Ontario cancelled the spring black bear hunt in 1999. Upset that he could not participate in the hunt, Nugent vowed to never set foot again in what he described as "an idiotic country". An outspoken pro-hunting media crusader, Nugent conducts 5 -10 prime media interviews every week. A longtime advocate of gun ownership rights, Nugent has served since 1995 on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association (NRA), of which he is a Life Member.
Nugent was a speaker at the NRA's 2005 National Convention in Houston. He received an enthusiastic reception from the delegates, telling them: "Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em! To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em." (Source: "Ted Nugent to Fellow NRAers: Get Hardcore," Associated Press article, April 17, 2005)
Nugent and the animal rights movement have long had an adversarial relationship. In 2000, Nugent was jailed briefly following an incident outside a department store in San Francisco in which he allegedly spat on, threatened and physically assaulted several anti-fur demonstrators. Nugent has reported receiving death threats against himself and his family from "animal rights" activists.
Nugent created and produced the award-winning Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild PBS video series, raising in excess of $3,000,000 for PBS affiliates nationwide.
According to a July 15, 1990 interview for the Detroit Free Press, Nugent described how he avoided the draft during the Vietnam War: He claims that 30 days before his Draft Board Physical, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene. The last ten days he ingested nothing but junk food and Pepsi, and a week before his physical he stopped using the bathroom altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with excrement and stained by his urine. That spectacle won Nugent a deferment, he says. His quote: “ but if I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed, , or I'd have killed all the Hippies in the foxholes… I would have killed everybody.”
Despite his oft-spoken conservative, "family values" views, Nugent fathered a child out of wedlock in 1995, with a Dover, New Hampshire woman, Karen Gutowski, with whom he had a "brief relationship" during his second (and current) marriage to Shemane Nugent. He and Gutowski came to an agreement on child support and visitation in late June. (Source: June 22, Laconia (N.H.) Citizen.) The newspaper reported that Nugent will pay Gutowski $3,500 monthly in child support, and she will have sole custody of their son, now 10. Terms of Nugent's visitation were not disclosed.
Although Nugent had acknowledged paternity earlier and paid "minimal" child support, Gutowski had to sue him to get adequate money for her child. He was served with the lawsuit Sept. 5 2004 when he played at the Meadowbrook Amphitheater in Gilford, N.H. with ZZ Top. (Source: June 22, Laconia (N.H.) Citizen).
In 2004, Nugent served as host of a VH1 reality television program, Surviving Nugent: The Ted Commandments, in which city dwellers moved to Nugent's Waco, Texas expansive ranch in order to survive such "backwoods" activities as building an outhouse and skinning a boar. During filming, Nugent injured himself with a chainsaw, requiring 44 stitches and a leg brace.
In July, 2005, Nugent said he was getting real close to deciding to run, for Governor of Michigan. On August 4, 2005 CNN reported that Ted Nugent had withdrawn from the race for 2006, but was keeping his options open for 2010.
Nugent is deaf in his left ear, but still has some hearing in his right ear. The hearing that still remains in his right ear is attributable to his using shell casings (which he often had in abundant supply) as ear plugs for his right ear (because the guitar amplifier was mostly to his right when he would perform).