Back in 1974 during his "Lost Weekend" period, John Lennon was thrown out of the famed Troubadour club in LA for being drunk and belligerent during a Smothers Brothers performance, as well as for throwing punches at anyone in his path, including a cocktail waitress, whom he clocked right in the face. This quote from his inadvertent victim has always stuck with me: "It’s not the pain that hurts—what hurts is finding out one of your idols is a real asshole!" I’d like to think John was man enough to make things right with this woman (whom I believe filed a lawsuit) after he sobered up, but I’ve never confirmed this.
Anyway, I’ve never met Ted Nugent in person, let alone ever been physically assaulted by him, but his constant assaults on my intelligence over the past few years have led me to the same conclusion that waitress came to: One of my (former) idols is a total dickhead. I’ve written about this once or twice before on this blog, but after reading about Nugent’s latest inane TV interview on CNN this week, I couldn’t take it anymore. So I’ve decided to author an open letter to His Humbleness…
How are you, man? I thought you'd be dead by now. And you're not even in jail, either—congratulations! We’ve never met before, but I’ve been listening to your music for over 35 years now. I saw you on the tube again this week blathering away like you so often do. You declared, "If you don’t enjoy my interviews, then you’re an idiot!" I guess that makes me a complete and total dumbass then, eh, Teddy? You know, there are times when I wish you had or would indulge in drugs and alcohol—it might chill you out a bit and make you more tolerable.
I gotta tell you, man, when I was 14, I really thought you were the shit. I idolized you. Hell, I fucking wanted to BE you! There was a point at which you were on the verge of replacing Kiss at the top of my Rock ‘N’ Roll mountain around 1978-79. You won me over on Double Live Gonzo! when you hollered, "Anybody wants to get mellow, you can turn around and get the fuck outta here!" Your music was kick-ass, testosterony and perfectly-suited for adolescents like yours truly and your stage raps were classic: "This guitar can blow the balls of a charging rhino at 60 paces…"; "This is a love song—I wanna dedicate this to all that Nashville pussy…" You even made a big clunky old-school guitar like the Gibson Byrdland look cool to play. I even remember hearing about the time you played Kemper Arena and some knucklehead knocked one of your teeth out shooting BBs at you, yet you insisted on making sure each and every member of your road crew received their Christmas bonus before seeking medical attention—most honorable of you. Sure, you ran your mouth a lot back then too, but in those days it was humorous—rather endearing even—and fairly harmless.
I saw you in concert at Arrowhead in ’79, and you played your ass off, even with a badly sprained ankle—most admirable. The next year, you rocked Kemper again and withstood the challenge of your upstart opening acts Def Leppard and Scorpions. I coulda done without you in the loin cloth, but that’s another issue. Opening for R.E.O. Speedwagon at Arrowhead in ’82, you got everybody united with "Bound And Gagged", which even won over a guy I worked with at the time who couldn’t stand you up to that point. You had a pretty good band backing you in the mid ‘70s, too, but I guess you couldn’t bear to share the spotlight with a good-looking and talented singer/guitarist like Derek St. Holmes—you had to have all that backstage pussy for yourself, right, Nuge? Did you ever notice that your best records were the ones DSH sang and played on? Nah, didn’t think so.
Then you got stupid. "Terminus Eldorado"? Dude, please. And what the fuck was that Intensities In 10 Cities tripe? "My Love (code for Dick) Is Like A Tire Iron"? "The Flying Lip-Lock"? We got it, Ted—you’re an alpha-male—you didn’t have to keep shoving all your macho-bravado bullshit histrionics down our throats. And "Jailbait"? You had one helluva nerve writing and singing a song like that when you own daughter was approaching her teens at the time. It went from bad to worse after that when you got desperate and borrowed Billy Squier’s band for an album (Penetrator) that had fucking synthesizers on it—you, Ted?!? Then you needed Bon Jovi and Sambora just to help you reach mediocrity on If You Can’t Lick ‘Em, Lick ‘Em in 1988. ‘Dull’ was never a term one could readily use to describe a Ted Nugent album until then. Since your own musical career was in the crapper, you found a lifeline of sorts with Damn Yankees for a few years. Two pretty decent albums resulted, but let’s be honest, your contributions to them were fairly minimal—Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades did all the heavy-lifting there—and seriously, you fit in with them about like David Lee Roth would with Toto or Survivor. Still, you surprised the shit out of me in ’95 with Spirit Of The Wild, and I was so pleased to hear you taking your music seriously again, not to mention having Mr. St. Holmes back on board. I even liked that "Fred Bear" tune, even though I don’t give a monkey’s spleen about hunting. I might have known the good stuff wouldn’t last long, tho…
The next time I caught up with you in concert was in ’99, and by then you'd gone over to the Dark Side. You got on this kick about "Get out of America if you can’t speak English," which didn't have a fucking thing to do with the songs you were playing. These diatribes continued unabated when I saw you open for Kiss several times on their "Farewell" Tour in 2000. And you kept going on and on about how "Janet Reno is an ugly whore." I'll agree, the woman gives Quasimodo and Joan Rivers (and her ugly-ass daughter) a run for their money, but why even bring it up? Dude, when I attend a concert, I’m there to be entertained and rocked, not to be fed a bunch of radical right-wing political bullshit, let alone out-and-out racism and bigotry, and you unrepentantly crossed the line repeatedly. I also found it highly hypocritical that you continually maligned Hispanic people when your own bass player's last name at the time was Mendoza, yet you constantly referred to him as a "blood brother" anyway! Mendoza had every right to slam your nuts in a car door. Numerous times. Are you forgetting that your ancestors probably couldn’t speak English worth a damn when they landed on these shores either?
Oh, but you didn’t stop there. As the Dubya Administration wore on, you sucked up to the Republican Party so you and your paranoid NRA buds could keep your precious guns, and your radical rants became more vitriolic and hateful as you added liberals, gays, welfare recipients, et al, as targets for your verbal Uzi as you talked out of your ass. You’re entitled to your opinions, Ted, absolutely, but why does it always have to be about YOU? Why do you continue to trash your own musical legacy? I have yet to reach the point where I’m ready to burn your albums and CDs in my collection, and I still enjoy your music from back in the day, but it’s becoming more difficult to listen to now, knowing what a low-life you’ve devolved into. You’ve always been a mouth, but back in the day you could back it up. Now, you sound like a bigger whack-job than Glenn Beck (and THAT takes some doing!).
Just as an aside, you looked like a total fool wearing that Indian headdress on stage during "Great White Buffalo" during that period—it looked as if you were doing a bad Boy Scout campfire skit. And I gotta tell ya, shooting a flaming arrow at a defenseless decoy guitar from ten feet away (you think I didn’t notice the roadie switch it out with the real one?) don’t impress me much. Even I could’ve nailed it from that distance, and my aim sucks like a Hoover upright most of the time.
While I have your attention, I have to say that you are full of shit about numerous topics. You once ripped on Paul McCartney for firing people from his road crew for eating meat—even though their contracts stipulated that to be on his crew, you had to be a vegan. Yet, you once boasted that you would ax anyone on your road crew that you even SUSPECTED of doing drugs or drinking alcohol. And tell me this, Mr. Conservative Christian Family Values—what’s up with doinking that underage girl? I believe they call that pedophilia. Three out-of-wedlock children over a 30-year stretch? Shit, you’ve been slapped with more paternity suits than Hugh Grant—some family man you are! And you couldn’t even be bothered to attend your own mother’s funeral—what the fuck?!? And then there was your first wife, Sandra, who you basically drove to drink with all your infidelity and you referred to her death in a drunk-driving incident as a "human tragedy". Did you bother to get the woman some professional help to get sober? I can’t believe what a sucker I was when I fell for your song "Alone" in ’79 about your divorce from her and how broken-up you were—all the while, still craving "all that English pussy out there" (or Nashville, or whichever locale you preferred). Seems to me that Sandra's the one who was alone, Mr. Cock-Rocker. And I hate to bring this up again, but you got a lotta balls going around saluting our military these days when you were a draft dodger during Vietnam. Don’t get me wrong here—if I was 18 years old in the late ‘60s, I may well have done the same thing you did, but don’t be sucking up to the troops now with your hollow pseudo-patriotism. I once bought into your patriotism back when you did "Bound And Gagged" in ’82—you actually seemed sincere at the time. Now, not so much. I also think it’s an insult to the troops that you wear those damn camouflage fatigues on stage.
As for your hunting and outdoorsy ventures, I couldn’t care less. If you’re into bloodlust and that’s your hobby, knock yourself out, but it’s not my scene, sorry, Dude. And I don’t give a flying fuck about guns. Have no use for them in my life. None. Zero. Nada. And don't try to tell me that I'm any less of a man just because I don't care to own firearms. Apart from maybe a "Star Trek" phaser or a light sabre from Star Wars, I have no desire for weaponry.
Other than your outrageousness that draws in ignorant viewers, I fail to see why the TV networks need to interview you in the first place. You’re no longer relevant musically, haven’t put out a decent record in nearly 20 years, and now you’re just an obnoxious big-mouth redneck bully who damns his own cause more than he aids it. Whenever you appear on Faux News Channel or CNN, etc., you know what I see, Ted? I see an insufferable, ignorant, inconsequential has-been who’s so desperate to keep his name in the papers that he’ll say anything inflammatory, regardless of who it hurts. There was a time when I would've walked the proverbial "mile for a Camel" to see you perform in concert. Today, I wouldn’t even walk to my back porch to see you play (and I’d have your bigoted ass thrown off my property too). You’re a real douche-bag, Ted. You aren’t quite in the same league with Rev. Fred Phelps and his merry band of Neolithic dipshits from Topeka, but you’re getting damn close. Does the phrase "Shut up, and play yer guitar" mean anything to you? Guess not…
One of the coolest things about Rock ‘N’ Roll music is it has the power to overcome the bullshit that even its own creators sometimes put forth and it makes you forget all about their pettiness, stupidity, arrogance, politics, etc., and you remember what drew you to those people in the first place. Gene Simmons pushes his luck constantly with me with his crass money-grubbing, but at least he's not near the bigoted jagoff you've become, Ted. I guess it’s a sign of my own personal growth that I’m able to sort through your B.S. and see you for who you really are now. There are/were plenty of assholes on the Rock music scene—Eddie Van Halen, Glenn Frey, Axl Rose, Jim Morrison, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp, Phil Spector—but none of them have ever worked quite so hard to be an asshole the way you do. I can't think of any other person I've ever been a major fan of who I've completely turned on like I have with you, Nugent. Dude, if you're not going to take your music seriously anymore, the do us all a big favor and shut the hell up and return to the has-been celebrity scrap heap and rejoin the likes of Super Dave Osborn, Macaulay Culkin, Michael Richards, Downtown Julie Brown, Jane Fonda, Danny Bonaduce, Alan Thicke (oh wait—he's a never-was), Jenny McCarthy, Screech from "Saved By The Bell" (oops, another never-was!) and Wynonna Judd, et al. The world will be a better place...
P.S.: I found this old photo in a magazine a while back. What's up with all the gay-bashing when you appear to be gazing longingly at Andy Warhol while you have your arm around Truman Capote? Is there something you'd like to get "out" of your system, Ted? Too bad Andy and Tru are no longer around, but there's always Janet Reno...