Ted Nugent Biography

Theodore Nugent, 13 December 1948, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Inspired by 50s rock ‘n’ roll, Nugent taught himself the rudiments of guitar playing at the age of eight. As a teenager he played in the Royal Highboys and Lourds, but this formative period ended in 1964 upon his family’s move to Chicago. Here, Nugent assembled the Amboy Dukes, which evolved from garage band status into a popular hard rock attraction. He led the group throughout its various permutations, assuming increasing control as original members dropped out of the line-up. In 1974 a revitalized unit - dubbed Ted Nugent And The Amboy Dukes - completed the first of two albums for Frank Zappa’s DiscReet label, but in 1976 the guitarist embarked on a fully fledged solo career. Derek St. Holmes (guitar), Rob Grange (bass) and Cliff Davies (drums) joined him for Ted Nugent and Free For All, both of which maintained the high-energy rock of previous incarnations. However, it was as a live attraction that Nugent made his mark - he often claimed to have played more gigs per annum than any other artist or group.

Ear-piercing guitar work and vocals - ‘If it’s too loud you’re too old’ ran one tour motto - were accompanied by a cultivated ‘wild man’ image, where the artist appeared in loin-cloth and headband, brandishing the bow and arrow with which he claimed to hunt for food. Trapeze stunts, genuine guitar wizardry and a scarcely self-deprecating image (‘If there had been blind people at the show they would have walked away seeing’) all added to the formidable Nugent persona. The aggression of a Nugent concert was captured on the platinum-selling Double Live Gonzo, which featured many of his best-loved stage numbers, including ‘Cat Scratch Fever’, ‘Motor City Madness’ and the enduring ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. Charlie Huhn (guitar) and John Sauter (bass) replaced St. Holmes and Grange for Weekend Warriors, and the same line-up remained intact for State Of Shock and Scream Dream. In 1981 Nugent undertook a worldwide tour fronting a new backing group, previously known as the D.C. Hawks, comprising Mike Gardner (bass), Mark Gerhardt (drums) and three guitarists - Kurt, Rick and Verne Wagoner. The following year Nugent left Epic for Atlantic Records, and in the process established a new unit that included erstwhile sidemen Derek St. Holmes (vocals) and Carmine Appice (drums, ex-Vanilla Fudge).

Despite such changes, Nugent was either unwilling, or unable, to alter the formula that had served him so well in the 70s. Successive solo releases offered little innovation and the artist drew greater publicity for appearances on talk shows and celebrity events. In 1989 Nugent teamed up with Tommy Shaw (vocals, guitar, ex-Styx), Jack Blades (bass, ex-Night Ranger) and Michael Cartellone (drums) to form the successful ‘supergroup’, Damn Yankees. After the Damn Yankees were put on hold in 1994, Nugent resumed his solo career for his first studio album in seven years. Reunited with Derek St. Holmes, Spirit Of The Wild also saw Nugent return to his usual lyrical posturing, including the pro-firearms ‘I Shoot Back’ and ‘Kiss My Ass’, a hate list featuring Courtney Love (of Hole) and the cartoon characters Beavis And Butthead among its targets.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

Filter Results