Before our paths crossed for real in the early 1990’s — we used to be on the same pro staffs for a couple of hunting industry companies — I was a Ted Nugent fan. I was first drawn to Ted’s wild ways on stage and his unparalleled skill with an electric guitar. Later, after I’d gotten to know him a little bit, it was his wit, an intellect most never see, his unparalleled work ethic, and his take-no-prisoners style (when it came to defending many of the core values I hold dear) that held my admiration.
Millennials and Gen-X dudes, you may not know much about Uncle Ted, so let me give you a brief on one of America’s modern-day entrepreneurial success stories.
Theodore Anthony “Ted” Nugent was born on December 13, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan, and began playing music when he was six years old; by age 14 he had formed his first band, the Lourds. On the strength of their 1964 performance at the Michigan State Fair, the Lourds were given the opportunity to open for the Beau Brummels and the Supremes. Nugent later moved to Chicago, where he fronted the band the Amboy Dukes; in 1968 they achieved national recognition with the single “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” which reached No. 8 on the pop charts. In the early 1970s, the Amboy Dukes continued to record while averaging more than 300 concert dates per year. With the aid of props, wardrobe, pyrotechnics and live animals, their concerts approached rock opera dimensions. Soon the Amboy Dukes were renamed Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes.
In 1975, Ted went solo. Now recording with the Epic Records label, he released his first solo album, Ted Nugent, featured the hit singles “Strangle Hold” and “Hey Baby.” In 1977, Nugent recorded his most successful album to date, Cat Scratch Fever. Eventually selling more than three million copies, the LP included the now-classic rock anthems “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard,” and “Out of Control.” Later, in 1989, he joined forces with rock veterans Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades to form the heavy metal band Damn Yankees.
Ted has never shied away from the limelight, and he has never been afraid to speak his mind. In an entertainment world dominated by left-wing thinking and activism, Ted’s love for the outdoors and hunting, coupled with his right-of-center politics and support for the Second Amendment, quasi-squashed his popularity in the 1990’s. Then in 1995 he resumed his solo career with the critically-acclaimed album “Spirit of the Wild,” which revolves around his political views and passionate relationship with nature and hunting.
In the summer of 2000, Nugent opened 79 sold-out concerts on the KISS Farewell Tour. That same year, he published a book of essays titled God, Guns and Rock-N-Roll. Throughout his career, Nugent has served on the boards of more than two dozen political and charitable associations, including the National Rifle Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He is currently a loyal supporter of the Republican Party. While I could not find exact numbers, I figure Ted has released something like 34 albums and has been able to sell something like 30 million records. He’s also the long-time host of the successful cable hunting show, “Spirit of the Wild.”
Here’s one of the things I like about Ted. Most celebrities are barricaded behind walls of public relations flacks and “posses” — but not Ted. No dummy, Ted is a media pro. In public he’s always “on,” he knows how he looks, he knows how his rock star image can be manipulated, and he’s very good at doing so. He once told me that organizations like the NRA would be crazy for not allowing him to be a spokesman for them since his past and persona open doors to mainstream media outlets that Joe Average could never open. And he’s right. But get him in a small environment away from the crowds and cameras, and you can have thoughtful conversation that will make you think about things.
Ted is also famous in the world of rock music for having never taken drugs and not drinking alcohol. When I once joked with him about how he could possibly have avoided all that stuff surrounded by all the coke and heroin and meth and free booze, he just laughed and said, “Yeah they all had fun, but now they’re dead, and I’m still Ted!”
That’s just one of Uncle Ted’s better quotes. Below are 10 of my favorites pertaining to guns and hunting. There are so many that I’ll bring you Part II with another 10 zingers.
10) Ted likes his meat dead, enough said.
9) Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians — except for the occasional mountain lion steak.
8) I’m the gun guy, a loud guitar Dirty Harry with a ponytail.
7) If you want to save a species, simply decide to eat it. Then it will be managed — like chickens, like turkeys, like deer, like Canadian geese.
6) Look what venison does to a goofy guitar player from Detroit. I’m going to be 54 this year and if I had any more energy I’d scare you.
5) There are hundreds of millions of gun owners in this country, and not one of them will have an accident today. The only misuse of guns comes in environments where there are drugs, alcohol, bad parents, and undisciplined children. Period.
4) Fortunately, as it pertains to guns, my dad and uncle introduced me to guns the way it needs to be done: smart, slow and safe.
3) There’s an absolute surety to the hands-on conservation lifestyle of hunting, fishing and trapping where you know you’re going to consume today.
2) Every study on crime and on firearms proves time and time again, that 99.99999 percent of American gun owners do not commit crimes or use our firearms in any dangerous or improper way.
1) Mankind: A quality of life upgrade is available to each and every one of you. It should give you a quality of life upgrade, which means no drugs, no alcohol, no fast food — unless, of course, it’s a mallard.
If you enjoyed this list of Ted Nugent quotes, here are 10 more of my favorite quotes from the Motor City Madman.
Featured photo: Flickr creative commons/Michael Kappel