‘THE MOTOR CITY MADMAN’ ROCKS
By RONI TOLDANES
Ted Nugent is angry. He seems consumed by moral outrage. The rock star finds it infuriating that a bill under consideration before the Michigan Senate would give local city councils and mayors the power to label concerts “harmful to minors.” Sitting in front of the microphone, Nugent riffles through news clippings as the “On Air” sign lights up inside the booth of his Detroit radio show.
“I’ve been a rock ’n roller most of my life,” Nugent says, “but I’m also a card-carrying, gun-owning, law-and-order conservative industrialist, your Recreation and parks Service Man of the Year, your rock-ribbed Ronald Reagan Republican and a permanent voice against drugs and alcohol. And this bill goes against everything I stand for.”
“No, this bill is a loser,” Nugent says, his voice quivering, “We don’t need any Big Brothers deciding what’s art and what isn’t.”
With snow in his hair, an apple in his mouth and horse manure on his shoes, Nugent lectures his audience about the defilement of American civic life one moment, then in the next breath dashes off a sardonic one-liner. This odd mixture has made Nugent an unlikely media star, the host of a four-hour radio show without a format.
“I’m a direct link to the pulse of a huge majority of people who are disassociated, and even offended, by the idea of format,” says Nugent. “There’s nothing I can’t do, won’t do or won’t try. I’m your favorite right-hook guy.”
Nugent’s weekday morning show on WWBR-FM (102.7) from 6 to 10 a.m. is unusual for its headquarters: Swamp Studios, built a year ago in Nugent’s barn in western Jackson County, two miles from pavement. It is close to his house, horses, dogs and his oak tree stands. While firing off bursts of slang and altered English phrases through the air waves, Nugent simply looks through the window to appreciate acres of wildlife habitat.
At any given time, Nugent might be chatting with a Republican senator or a writer who says she can convert any woman to lesbianism, and later he might talk about hunting or blast his listeners with high-powered rock riffs. The resulting chatter is unpredictable, sometimes stuttering into incoherence, sometimes soaring into edification. The formula, however, proved to be a winner as Nugent’s radio program surged early this year form a 17th place finish in the third quarter to ninth place as Detroit’s top morning spot.
With spunk and bombast, Nugent shoots from the lip on his new radio program. Even Howard stern, the self-proclaimed king of all media, has apparently started considering him as a serious rival. In a recent conference with Detroit writers, the shock jock described Nugent as “a nice guy and a great musician,” but added that it was “sad that he has to be on radio. That’s really the bottom of the barrel.”
Nugent, also know in Detroit as the “Motor City Madman,” normally refuses to return a punch from other rock deejays. “Here’s the thing I don’t understand about rock radio: Why do they have to create such a mean-spirited veneer?” says Nugent. “I don’t play those games.”
Many entertainment stars like to hide or whine about the way those ubiquitous paparazzi seem to be stalking every aspect of their private lives. Most celebrities are also legendary for being reclusive or difficult or self-important. Nugent, however, hides nothing. He’s turned in-your-face into a lifestyle. He says what he wants. He invents his own code of conduct. And he invites you to inspect his whole life.
Nugent is always open to interviews. He also actively lobbies in Congress, such as when he campaigned against moves to block recreational vehicles, including snowmobiles, from using wilderness areas. If Americans can’t play in their wilderness, according to the rock star, they will never learn to care about it. In April 1997, Nugent marched to Congress with Bobby Unser, the three time Indianapolis 500 champion, describing the U.S. Forest service before a joint congressional hearing as “worse than the KGB in Russia.”
Nugent is a well-known bow hunter and he declares it with pride. “I’m the only semi-Caucasian guitar ‘kanker’ in the Free World who shoots his own stage clothes,” he says, referring to his leather attire. Then a smirk trembles across his face before saying, “The Nugent tribe will not eat meat unless we kill it ourselves.”
While rock stars such as Ozzy Osborne drank staggering amounts of alcohol, smoked joints or inhaled white powdery substances, Nugent protects his body with a healthy diet. He feeds his family with venison and he’s a good cook.
Born in Detroit, Michigan on December 13, 1948, Ted Nugent began bow hunting when he was five years old. He played the guitar when he was seven, developed into a consummate showman before he could shave and by his middle twenties, became a top-grossing rock artist. He has released 29 recording and sold over 30 million albums worldwide, scoring four double platinum, two platinum, and two gold recordings.
Despite his rock ‘n roll image, Nugent has always been outspoken against drugs and alcohol. “God blessed me with a level of awareness that I have the duty to optimize and deliver via my instrument,” he says, his wicked wit evaporating quickly, “How dare we compromise that gift (by taking drugs and alcohol). It’s blasphemous!”
While jamming with his guitar idol Jimi Hendrix years ago, Nugent packed up his guitar and left when Jimi ridiculed him for refusing to use drugs. “Jimi got high, and Jim’s dead. I went hunting, and I’m still Ted,” he says.
Nugent has been criticized by, of all people, fellow hunters, after he released a video showing him smacking the bejeezous out of a deer with his bow and arrow. Pro-hunting advocates have described it as “too explicit.” But at the same time, he’s been praised by the same groups for actively campaigning to defend the constitutional right to own firearms.
Nugent’s unyielding stance against drugs, coupled with his popularity and staunch defense of the Second Amendment, led to his election to the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association in 1995.
You need a calculator to keep track of his awards and activities. In the four decades that he has been rocking with his Gibson guitar, Nugent has appeared in TV commercials, including one with the pink Energizer bunny; delivered speeches in countless law enforcement conventions, received a string of awards from the Firearms sports industry and has been honored on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
If he’s not singing, Nugent delivers speeches or shoots arrows aimed at promoting the outdoor sports as a family-oriented activity. “You show me a child that goes bow hunting with his mom and dad, and I’ll show you a kid that is not into gangs, not poisoning himself and is not playing Nintendo,” he says.
Nugent hosts the Kamp for Kids; a weekend camping for boys and girls ages 11-15 in Michigan. The program is built around an archery theme, hunter safety and conservation. “It’s great for the kids to see a role model who hasn’t just checked out of the Betty Ford Foundation,” says Nugent’s assistant, Linda Peterson. “Ted’s never been addicted to anything and kids believe him because he’s true.”
When he deals with kids, Nugent tones down his rock ‘n roll message, preferring to talk to them at their own level. “He tries to steer kids on the right path,” says Dave Dalton, one of the organizers of the Kamp for Kids, where participants also do “camp stuff,” like volleyball, swimming and hiking.
For many years, Nugent has launched an aggressive campaign on the public speaking circuit, promoting the outdoor sports. He has appeared on top rated TV shows, including Politically Incorrect and Larry King, and has been interviewed many times by such radio personalities as Rush Limbaugh.
Nugent also published the Adventure Outdoors magazine, which he uses as a vehicle to expand the membership of the Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America (TNUSA), a group that actively promotes hunting. He spends half of the year performing in rock concerts and the other half hunting. In fact, a few days before this interview, Nugent was in Africa for a hunting safari with his drop-dead-beautiful wife, Shemane, and sons Toby, 22 and Rocco, 9. His daughters, 25-year old Sasha and Starr, 28, also hunt, but didn’t join the trip.
Hunting, according to Nugent, is essential to conservation and hunters deter poaching, which is what has killed so many elephants. “Hunting is more than good for us,” Nugent says. “It’s good for the balance of power in the natural world.”
Nugent has often been called charming, even by his enemies. If that is the correct word, it is not displayed in a gushing, slick manner. Rather, Nugent is soft-spoken, somewhat shy, self-deprecating and able to poke fun at himself.
One of the most striking things about Nugent is that you can talk with him and find yourself appreciating his intelligence, the rationale behind his thinking – even if you don’t necessarily agree with it – and his deep concerns about today’s troubled society and the future of the Second Amendment in America.
Often Nugent wears a zebra-patterned shirt and drives a custom Ford Bronco painted with (what else?) zebra stripes. Men resemble their cars. Or do cars resemble their men? Either – or both – might hold true of rocker Ted Nugent.
He’s an intense man with an intense car. And he talks about guns with intense passion.
Magazine editor Roni Toldanes interview with Ted Nugent:
RONI TOLDANES: Why do they call you “Motor City Madman?”
TED NUGENT: Because I’m from the Motor City and I’m so intense I scare most white people. I’ve always put my heart and soul in everything I’ve done. In order to play good rock ‘n roll, you’ve got to be throwing some flames. In the application of these musical visions, they collide with my intensity and they manifest themselves on stage and in music with real pulsating rhythms. They involve very energetic and downright athletic stage maneuvers. The songs I write about are from my experiences in life, which are very intense. Sometimes it’s about confrontations – whether it’s a love confrontation or violence confrontation on the streets. I write about all the human experiences that I have. I am genuinely moved by these experiences whether they are positive or negative and they find their way in the music. So people thought I was a madman because I live an intense life. Of course, you have to realize that I have always supported the right to defend one’s self and the application of the Second Amendment. I have always done so unapologetically. I have celebrated my hunting lifestyle. And to typical punks in the music industry, that was mad. Quite honestly, I’m mad like a good father. I’m mad like a leader of a household who will protect his family, live by the law and the Ten Commandments and the golden rule and the Constitution. To some people, that’s mad. To them, fine! I will continue to be the Motor City Madman. (Laughs.)
RONI TOLDANES: You played the guitar when you were seven. When did you realize you’re a celebrity?
TED NUGENT: I started emulating great rock ‘n roll guitar players because I was moved by the sound of music. So the term celebrity really never was a consideration because I just craved the music even as I do today. I played at the Detroit Fairgrounds in 1958 and even though I was just playing boogie-woogie and honky-tonk, at that time I didn’t realize that people were paying attention to me because I was a celebrity, but because the music moved them. I’d figured eventually by the time I had the band in my late teens that I was starting to get recognized wherever we’d perform and travel. I thought it was cute, but it has never been an important element in my life or career. Let me put it this way: the white-tailed deer and my children’s friends don’t think about my celebrity, so that’s a very humbling reality check for me everyday of my life.
RONI TOLDANES: How long have you been in the rock n roll business?
TED NUGENT: I started playing guitar when I was about seven years old. I’ll be 50 in December so I guess that’s 43 years. And I’d loved every greasy, throbbing, pulsating moment of it.
RONI TOLDANES: It must be interesting to find out how many decibels slam your ears during concerts. How do you manage to keep your hearing intact?
TED NUGENT: I’m not a genius but I ain’t no dummy. (Laughs) I realize how outrageously loud my guitar was. The unique style of guitar that I was cultivating was feedback oriented. It takes sheer volume to attain some of these sonic dynamics, and it’s the ultra-loud that can be dangerous. So it’s amazing that at the age of about 17, I started wearing earplugs in my right ear, which was exposed directly to my speakers. But I combined rock ‘n roll with my Firearms enthusiasm. I’d shoot everyday hundreds of rounds, and have been doing it for 30 years. I’ve always been wearing hearing protection during official target sessions, but it’s always that spontaneous jam session with other musicians and those spontaneous Firearms sessions that I do that could have inflicted the most damage to my hearing. But it’s a small price to pay for the smile on my face.
RONI TOLDANES: What’s the largest audience you’ve ever played to?
TED NUGENT: I hold the record in two states. In fact, I think I hold the record in North America at the California Jam on March 18, 1978, where there were 500,000 people. It was held at the Ontario Speedway. But I also hold the attendance record in the Soldier’s Field in Chicago at 90,000. I hold the attendance record at the Dallas Jam in Texas and we had 96,000 people there. At the Houston Astrodome, we also had about 80,000 people. I also hold attendance records in Detroit. I just set a record in Wisconsin last year. That’s exciting, but this morning we’re rehearsing with just seven people in the room, but I’m moved just as powerfully by the music regardless of how many people were listening. Ultimately, I’m a big fan of the creative process so I embrace the music and it embraces me to the point where outside motivation is nearly inconsequential.
RONI TOLDANES: Do rock stars like you listen to Elvis Presley’s music?
TED NUGENT: There are no rock stars like me. (Laughs) But I think every aspiring musician in life was impacted by Elvis Presley. He was a genius; he was a very creative blender of rhythm and blues, black blues and what was emerging as a pop-style of rock ‘n roll. Everybody has been touched by Elvis Presley. There are so many masters who opened the door to this style of music. Chuck Berry would be the most important, I think.
RONI TOLDANES: Did Chuck Berry rock your imagination, too?
TED NUGENT: Absolutely, as was Elvis. But you have to be careful that an individual does not become an idol just because of his career accomplishments. We have to decide if the person is a quality role model outside of career activities. Until then, he can’t really be an idol. But musically speaking, certainly Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and so many virtuosos were guiding lights for many of us.
RONI TOLDANES: People imagine all your audience to be on drugs. But you are anti-drug and anti-alcohol, aren’t you?
TED NUGENT: Militantly. I remember occasions where role models – musical heroes from Jimi Hendrix to Bon Scott from AC/DC to John Belushi, who was a gifted entertainer – would really ridicule me because I would carry a gun. They would ridicule me because I enjoyed guns. They would really ostracize me from parties and events because I wouldn’t take their poison and play their foolish games. And if you checked lately, they’re all dead and I’m still Ted.
RONI TOLDANES: Are you a very religious person?
TED NUGENT: I’m not religious in regards to organized religion. I consider myself intensely spiritual. I work and cultivate relationships with Native American people, with native African people. We just returned tow days ago from our tenth African safari. And these moments with people of the earth, I mean people who still live well rooted in the ground – Mother Earth that offers us life and the sustenance that comes from the ground. As the leader of the family, it is my responsibility and God-given duty to supply sustenance both physically and spiritually for my family and I take that very seriously. And I believe that all the evils and problems that are running amuck in America today can be traced directly to a lack of spiritually in the perpetrators and the victims of this epidemic of “spiritualessness.” I emphasize the spirit in everything I do. My TV show is called Spirit of the Wild. My radio show is called Spirit of the Wild. We’re very spiritually and Christian-motivated.
RONI TOLDANES: Where do you usually hunt?
TED NUGENT: My favorite hunting ground in the world is the field I’m looking at right now. I saw some teal down here this morning. There were turkeys and pheasants and quail. We have a cornucopia of bird life here and healthy, thriving wild life in bio-diversity. Because it’s home, I get to have dinner with my family and sleep with my wife every night. My favorite hunting in the world is right here on our ranch. We have about 1,600 acres and it’s all wildlife habitat with just every wildlife species thriving. This is where I get to take my family and friends hunting and still be home.
RONI TOLDANES: Tell us about your parents.
TED NUGENT: My mom was a queen. She was an absolute angel and a very positive, uplifting and funny – in bold capital letters – lady. She loved me dearly and intensely. My dad loved me dearly and intensely too, but I didn’t recognize it while I was growing up because he was very harsh. My dad was a militant disciplinarian. He was a drill sergeant in the U.S. Army at the age of 19. He was very demanding, but that’s the way he showed his love for me. And I’m not complaining or whining right now; it’s just that he really went overboard in many disciplinary fashions. They both died here about eight years ago. That spirituality in my hunting makes me close to both my father and my mother.
RONI TOLDANES: And tell us about your wife and children?
TED NUGENT: My wife, Shemane, is the queen of my force. She is absolutely the dream of this man. I feel blessed to have met her and married her. We are soul brothers; we are soulmates and spiritualmates. Our little boy, Rocco, is a direct result of our intense love for each other. My young boy, Toby, who’s 21, is my best hunting buddy. He is an absolutely wonderful, loving young man. My daughter, Sasha is now 24, is every father’s dream and is also drop-dead-beautiful. She’s a gorgeous girl and she manages it well. My daughter Star is also a stunning lady. She’s 28, and she blessed me with my first granddaughter, Riley Louise Joliet. We’re a very loving family, and we do everything together. That’s the source of all my happiness.
RONI TOLDANES: How did you get to meet Shemane?
TED NUGENT: Shemane and I collided in 1988 while she was doing traffic and news reports on a radio station in Detroit and I just finished a most intense tour all over the world. I just came from a six-week tour in Europe. We did over 200 concerts that year, and I pretty much had my (choice) of women. I was a single man on tour. I was ready for the hunting season in mid-September. I went to this radio studio where I did my show every year, and she was just absolutely mesmerizing. I was avoiding women, but she was so compelling on an intellectual level that we got to know each other and we just hung around like a couple of guys, but I couldn’t keep my hands off her.
RONI TOLDANES: Shemane was your second wife?
TED NUGENT: Yes, Sandra, who is Sasha’s and Toby’s mother, passed away in 1982 due to a terrible traffic accident. So I was a single parent for so many years.
RONI TOLDANES: You drive a Ford Bronco. Do you really have a passion for four-wheel drive vehicles?
TED NUGENT: Oh yeah, baby. I love to go where no man has gone. In fact, whether I play music or hunt, I prefer to the road less traveled. I’d like to discover my own areas. I consider myself the Louis and Clark of America’s swampland. I love the power of a four-wheel-drive truck because it’s a very practical tool here in Michigan, where we get some savage Mother Nature beating us during the winter. You really become immobilized unless you have specialized four-wheel-drive. I have a custom-built 1990 Ford Bronco with a 500-hp V-8 engine. It’s a Zebra-striped truck that is so powerful, it will scare you. It’s a bad dude.
RONI TOLDANES: There’s evidence that albums by White Zombie, Rancid, Foo Fighters and Silverchair are flying out of stores, while big-name CDs by Rod Stewart and Pink Floyd gather dust. Do you think the music world is in the midst of a big turnover in its star structure and a new rock generation is preparing to take over?
TED NUGENT: The new generation has been preparing for months. Those who are succeeding, either succeed by honing their talents and their vision to connect with people or just by sheer luck. There are guys who can’t even play their guitars. I can’t name names because I can’t listen to them long enough to find out who they are. But I know some guys who can’t even play have sold a lot of records. I don’t think a generation can ever carry the torch of a musical statement, but there is a “generational” impact on the sales of music because guys who were buying millions of albums in the ‘70’s are older now, and they are just not buying records at all. They don’t like any music product. I feel blessed that I could still sell 500,000 albums every year. I think there are some brilliant new artists out there, guys like Joe Satriani and Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Sheperd. I’m also more excited about the new developing music of people like Aerosmith and Van Halen and guys like Buddy Guy. I think that quality musical statements will always be ageless and timeless and I think it will always be depicted by top selling albums. I am a little fearful when I see the support for such celebration of violence and dehumanization such as rap music, without concern that that might be more than just a musical recreational statement. I’m afraid it might be an indication that mankind enjoys the plummet into the abyss of immorality.
RONI TOLDANES: Would you rather let your kids listen to rock ‘n roll music than rap?
TED NUGENT: Sure. My kids will make that decision, but I think the overview of that concern is that I was a good parent before music was a consideration. The most important thing in our society and the most important element in the guidance for young people is so much more powerful than music or movies or television or Nintendo games. And that comes from the love and guidance and DISCIPLINE that parents have the obligation to use in bringing their children up. It is lack of connection and lack of discipline that is really the source of the violence and the disorder that exists out there. You can never blame the music. I’d rather think that the music is an example and a manifestation of the decay that happened long before musical choice was made.
RONI TOLDANES: I suppose your children also listen to jazz or classical music?
TED NUGENT: I bet they do. They like good music, regardless of its genre. That’s what I do in my radio show; I play anything that’s good, whether it’s jazz, folk, country. I can’t find any good rap music, though, but I’m looking. (Smiles) It doesn’t’ matter what type of music. What matters is whether it sounds like it has heart and soul, which is why we play so much rhythm and blues in our show.
RONI TOLDANES: Is the rock star persona merely an act? Do rock stars have the same hard-driving attitude off the stage?
TED NUGENT: I know I do. None of my maneuvers in my career has ever been an act. Alice cooper can be separated from Vince Neil. I think that should be applauded. He does it excellently and it takes a lot of talent and vision and creativity to accomplish an Alice Cooper. I have great respect for Alice both as Alice Cooper the entertainer and as Vince my friend, just the normal white man on the street. He is a gifted guy. But in the case of Ted Nugent, what you see is what you get. I can’t stop dancing, I can’t stop grinding my teeth when the music is so intense. I can’t stop celebrating the good, the bad and the ugly through my music because my music is an unstoppable extension of my life’s experience, my life’s hopes and dreams and even my fears.
RONI TOLDANES: Gene Simmons, the 46-year-old bassist of KISS, said recently: “As long as you’ve got a little kid inside your heart, you’re going to want to go up on stage and be a showoff.” Does age make a difference in music, particularly in rock ‘n roll?
TED NUGENT: No. Unequivocally, no. You look at Mick Jagger, who is in his 50’s. I saw videos of my show last year. I was 49 years old and nobody could touch me. I just jammed with Aerosmith and Metallica and Lynyrd Skynyrd, here recently. No, age doesn’t matter. I’m in total disagreement with Simmons regarding the showoff part. I know that exists but when I want to showoff I show pictures of my children. When I’m on stage, I’m just letting the creative juices flow even though I am a showman. That is just the obvious projection, physically and visually on stage, of what I’m feeling inside.
RONI TOLDANES: Do you know of any other rock star who’s also a gun owner?
TED NUGENT: Sure. Almost all of them. The guys at Metallica support the Second Amendment. The guys at ZZ Top, Van Halen, certainly the guys in Damn Yankees support the right to defend one’s self. I just bought a number of guns for Joe Perry of Aerosmith. And when I performed in the Howard Stern movie, I was approached by Howard, who showed me his .32-caliber Seecamp pistol. I was approached by Tiny Tim, who showed me his .25-caliber Beretta. I was approached by John Popper of Blues Travelers who showed me his Colt Government Commander. I was approached by Ozzy Osborne and talked about his German 9mm Luger. Everybody supports the common pulse of defending one’s self, which is why our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment. It’s really amazing that you’ve got a bunch of spineless weenies out there. Not all of them, but some of them. There are guys like Steven Spielberg, who’s got an extensive gun collection but won’t make one effort to promote the Second Amendment. How could you make a movie like Schindler’s List and not promote the right of the people to defend themselves against evil with firepower? He should be ashamed of himself. He’s so hypocritical to make to make a movie like Schindler’s List and then hide the fact that the Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership take him to task because he’s so inconsistent as to be laughable.
RONI TOLDANES: Do you foresee more young rock artists coming out in support of responsible gun ownership?
TED NUGENT: There’s such an overwhelming crusade in the media, particularly in the music and entertainment media to demonize firearms owners. The propaganda machine is a monstrosity. That’s why I’m proud to be serving my second term with the National Rifle Association, that’s why I’m proud to represent the National Archery Association of America. Through our Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids program, children from the inner city – who have never been able to shoot a bow or fire a gun – become enamored with the firearms sports once they are shown a safe and responsible approach. They become our very best promoters and ambassadors. But it has to be introduced to these young people in an excitable, enthusiastic and safety-oriented format like the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program for young people. But typically when a guy like Ted Nugent shows such excitement and enthusiasm for the firearms sports, it’s contagious. Just look at what I’ve done here in the state of Michigan. With our volunteers in the Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, we have taken Michigan from fourth rate as a hunting state. In the year that I started my organization, we became number one ahead of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Texas. That’s because we are actively promoting it.
RONI TOLDANES: What’s your political inclination. Do you care much about politics?
TED NUGENT: I care deeply about politics. I have upgraded this country politically. I speak to politicians on my radio show. I’ve got other candidates on my program. I have worked closely with several governors to promote the firearms sports, conservation and hunting. I am very active politically. Back in 1984, I was invited by President Ronald Reagan to the National Law Enforcement Convention in Fort Collins, Colorado, and he had me speak to the graduating class of the FBI. To have Ronald Reagan, one of the most popular conservative presidents of all time, invite the Motor City Madman to a law enforcement event is something I’m extremely proud of.
RONI TOLDANES: Will you ever run for public office?
TED NUGENT: No. They don’t get the hunting season off. I’m more effective in my position as a celebrity with some believability to my name in getting people to get involved.
RONI TOLDANES: Your wife, Shemane, runs the Queen of the Forest program that introduces women to hunting and the outdoors. She says hunting isn’t just about tracking and Firearms deer. It’s about sitting around a campfire, and joking around. Is hunting just an excuse to enjoy a serene environment?
TED NUGENT: My wife is very accurate in that because many women, horrifically, have not only shied away from hunting but have actively campaigned against hunting because they’ve accepted the ugly imagery from the mainstream media that we’re all a bunch of overweight, drunk, tobacco-chewing slobs. Our Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids has recruited more young people, primarily more females, into the Firearms sports than any other force that exists out there. That may sound like an intense bragging to some people but we have the statistics to prove it and we’ve got letters from ladies all across this country who’ve been introduced to the firearms sports by Shemane and myself who are now the biggest proponents for our Second Amendment rights. Because women have this very powerful instinct to protect their children and to protect their tribe. And you can’t do that with 911 or a bag of quarters.
RONI TOLDANES: What do you eat when you are on the road performing concerts? You don’t always eat jerky, do you?
TED NUGENT: I have my own Ted Nugent Biltong jerky products. (Laughs) So, nowadays, I can’t just eat the good stuff. But all my life, when I’ve toured, I’ve aspired and successfully sustained myself with quality food. There are great restaurants out there. I live to eat. I love food. And I have nailed down and identified all the very best restaurants around the country.
RONI TOLDANES: Your close friends say you’re also a very good cook.
TED NUGENT: I can turn flesh into a celebration. (Laughs)
RONI TOLDANES: You own a hunting ranch (the Sunrise Acres Hunting Ranch in Hanover, Michigan, where hunters pay to pursue trophy whitetails). The Department of Natural Resources charged you last year for alleged inaccurate reporting of deer on your Jackson County game preserve. What’s the latest on this issue?
TED NUGENT: The entire escapade was an embarrassing joke by the DNR. They knew that they were wrong. They gave out citations to 96 game ranch owners and I’m the only one who pleaded not guilty. I was exonerated of all charges and everybody else paid a fine by pleading no contest. The ridiculous thing about it is that there’ s no law in Michigan that you have to have an accurate count. There is an estimate that you give. And the count was never the complication. There was never any question about the count. They were claiming that I haven’t turned in my reports on time when, in fact, I have. It was a bureaucracy caught with its pant down. And I was the only guy brave enough to tell the king he had no clothes.
RONI TOLDANES: What do you think of animal rights activists?
TED NUGENT: I think they are pathetic. I think they are brain-dead. I think they are intellectually and morally bankrupt. Anybody who could possibly align themselves with any organization who’s dogma is “a rat is a pig, is a dog, is a boy,” is in the evil column of our society. The concept that animals can be equal to human beings is nothing short of ridiculous and scary. Those people are bad and they are in the liability column of our world. I’ve had my life threatened by these people for many years, and they’re a real scourge across this land.
RONI TOLDANES: Your early videos on hunting ruffled the feathers of some pro-hunting advocates who describe the films as “too explicit” and detrimental to the public relations efforts of the hunting community. Any comment?
TED NUGENT: Good. Those are the denying bubbas who thought they were leaders. They were leading us backwards in the hunting community, making sure that young people didn’t get a hunting license, making sure that young people only followed Rolling Stone magazine instructions about gun ownership. These are the same buffoons who said we should not wear camouflage in public and shouldn’t take pictures with our dead game and we should somehow apologize for being hunters or at least deny it or keep it under wraps. To those people, I say: Kiss my a**s. I have accomplished more with those down-to-earth videos and my genuine enthusiasm and celebration of the hunt than they would ever do in ten lifetimes. If they want to continue on a backward pace, I recommend they go back to that silliness. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to recruit new people, because new people can see that I’m honest, I’m having fun and that killing your dinner is the right thing to do.
RONI TOLDANES: You have established yourself as a national media figure. Is there a big market for radio programs such as what you have?
TED NUGENT: Absolutely. Unfortunately, the firearms sports have failed to come to my side. Browning, BuckStop, the NRA and its members and the National Field Archery Association of America have supported me. I always thank all the advertisers in the Ted Nugent Adventures Outdoors magazine from API Treestands to Old man Treestands, to Cor-Bon, because without them, I would not be able to do this. I would not continue bankrolling all of these (activates) with my own money. I just found out how stupid that was – supporting an industry that wouldn’t support me. The real horrible thing about this is that my radio show has always been absolutely in support of the Second Amendment and the truth about our hunting heritage and I’ve had very little support form the industry.
RONI TOLDANES: Are you sometimes rattled by comments from other radio rivals, such as Howard Stern, who say you don’t belong to radio?
TED NUGENT: (Laughs) That would be like somebody telling me I can’t hunt as I’m dragging home a 10-point buck. Howard Stern can only be described as cute. That’s about it.
RONI TOLDANES: Critics say that nationally, classic rock is becoming marginalized as a radio format and is no longer the music of choice for mainstream rock stations.
TED NUGENT: I can’t keep up nor do I have any desire to keep up with format trends. That’s all they are – trends. I am convinced that you can’t lose if you give over the airwaves of any radio or media the genuine heat and soul and the intellectual sincerity with quality soul-filled music. Anybody who thinks otherwise is a numb nut.
RONI TOLDANES: Does Rush Limbaugh own a lot of guns?
TED NUGENT: I’ve been on Rush’s radio show six times. He owns one gun and that’s the gun that the NRA gave him when I was with him one time.
RONI TOLDANES: Are there other radio personalities who own guns? G. Gordon Liddy is a felon so he can’t own guns, but he’s a pro-gun guy.
TED NUGENT: As a convicted felon, I don’t think Gordon is allowed to own any guns, but his wife owns a bunch of them. G. Gordon Liddy is a great warrior. I have great respect for this man. Another gentleman in radio that I have great respect for is Ken Hamblin. He’s considered the “Black Avenger” and a lot of people call him the black Rush Limbaugh and he’s done a great job.
RONI TOLDANES: You are an active spokesman for DARE and in fact go out of your way to deliver anti-drug message. Isn’t this somewhat contradictory of the rock ‘n roll image?
TED NUGENT: Not at all. I don’t attempt to confine myself to any imagery that someone else may try to outline. I live my life and I have always been adamant and militant and wonderfully consistent in my anti-drug, anti-poisoning, anti-stupidity message. So I make the perfect DARE officer because I’m a sheriff deputy here in the state of Michigan under Joe Wilson in Genesee County. With that badge of honor in my pocket, I am able to project that I am the Motor City Madman having more fun than five puppy dogs on your mother’s chin, without hurting anybody and breaking any laws and without putting poison in my system.
RONI TOLDANES: Tell us what’s Ted Nugent’s Kamp for Kids.
TED NUGENT: When Fred Bear took me on his last hunt in 1988, he told me to keep doing what I was doing, to keep encouraging children to get involved in the outdoors and conservation. He told me emphatically that he loved what it was that I was doing. Then he died just a few months later. Instead of just promoting and getting involved with other programs, I started an actual camp. These kids know that Ted Nugent is having a riot out here with rock ‘n roll and that is the attention-getter. But within the attention-getting power of rock ‘n roll, I deliver a message that is powerfully Second Amendment. That’s what our Kamp for Kids does. It teaches about individual accountability, it teaches the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, about how you can either be in the asset or liability column. Life is a lot more fun when you’re in the asset column.
RONI TOLDANES: What does Ted Nugent intend to do to further promote responsible gun ownership in America?
TED NUGENT: I continue to challenge the industry to invest in the future of the sport in recruitment and upgrade. Recruiting new shooters. I mean real programs. I don’t mean programs that recruit the sons and daughters of shooters. I’m talking about programs that recruit the sons and daughters of anti-shooters. And it can be done. We’ve proven it over and over again and I continue to approach the people in the Firearms and outdoors trade show and in the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization. I’m hoping that some of them would realize that I’m just a damn guitar player, yet I’m an activist every day of my life for the firearms sports and the honorable hunting heritage. That’s what I’m doing. What the hell are they doing?
RONI TOLDANES: Charlton Heston is the new NRA president. Do you think he is the “shot in the arm” needed by American gun owners?
TED NUGENT: I don’t know if he would be considered a “shot in the arm.” He certainly is a good man to have on our side. I have great respect for Charlton Heston. I’ve had some very good dialogues with him. He’s been on my radio show a number of times and he will continue to be on my radio show because we see eye to eye on the Second Amendment. He’s made miscalculations and misstatements in the past, but who hasn’t amongst us? I think Charlton Heston is a perfect example of a man who doesn’t have to be an activist, but he is. Anybody with that kind of dedication, I consider to be my blood brother.
RONI TOLDANES: You are a director of the NRA. Do you have plans of being the president?
TED NUGENT: I have no plans but I know I have a lot of support in the NRA. I got 131,000 votes on the board this time, right behind very famous senators and congressmen. That made me very proud.
RONI TOLDANES: Do you think the NRA represents the ideals of the average American gun owner?
TED NUGENT: I believe the average American gun owner is so apathetic that they are not doing enough research to discover the truth. And it’s not the NRA’s fault. It’s the apathy of the average American, gun owner or otherwise.
RONI TOLDANES: What is your idea of a “perfect America?”
TED NUGENT: A perfect America is where you have law and order, quick and swift, where bad guys are punished and good guys are encouraged, where the harder you work, the less taxes you have to pay; where the constitution is adhered to literally at every turn; that a minute a judge misrepresents a judgment call from the constitution, then that judge serves an equal sentence with this scum that he failed to condemn properly; where politicians are held under a microscope at all times and where we have a civilian review board which immediately pounces on the abuses of power. I’d like to think that the founding fathers’ vision is more important today than ever and people like the Clintons are cancer that have got to be thrown out of office and put in jail where they belong.
RONI TOLDANES: We now have an instant background check system for gun buyers. Are you in favor of this system?
TED NUGENT: No. In places where you have no gun check, where you can get guns more readily, there was less violent crime. In Vermont, when you turn 18, you can carry a gun without a permit. And there’s no problem in Vermont. In Washington D.C., where you already have complete gun control, there’s a murder every few hours. Something is sad and wrong in this country when we see that more guns equal less crime.
RONI TOLDANES: Can there be a compromise between strict and loose gun laws?
TED NUGENT: No. The laws of this country are supposed to be based on conduct, not hardware. The Aerosmith band was once asked to perform in a benefit concert for a gun group, which says it’s against gun violence. I read their literature and I said, “Wait a minute, if you are going to do a benefit concert for an organization, why should it be against gun violence? Why shouldn’t we just be against violence?”
RONI TOLDANES: Do you also participate in competitive sports?
TED NUGENT: I do it all. If it goes bang, I shoot it. I do a lot of clay shooting. I do a lot of long-range target shooting and plinking. I’ve shot with Rich Davis at Second Chance pin shooting. I shoot in a lot of law enforcement competitions.
RONI TOLDANES: How many guns do you have?
TED NUGENT: Hundreds and hundreds of guns.
RONI TOLDANES: So you’re a gun collector?
TED NUGENT: Absolutely.
RONI TOLDANES: What’s your favorite gun?
TED NUGENT: My favorite gun right now is my carry gun. It’s a Glock Model 20 in 10mm loaded with custom Cor-Bon bullets. It’s a perfect carry gun and perfect big game gun as well. I used it extensively in Africa.
RONI TOLDANES: Your Assistant, Linda Peterson, says there’s probably one bad thing about Ted Nugent – he’s a perfectionist. That you like to do things right. But that could be a good thing, too. Are you a perfectionist?
TED NUGENT: I don’t think so. I want it the best you can.