By Wade Coggeshall
INDIANAPOLIS — Think what you want of Ted Nugent. The man, or human tornado as he’s been called, exudes life like few others. Since debuting with the Amboy Dukes five decades ago, the legendary rock guitarist has gone on to sell more than 35 million copies of his incendiary music, and even branch out as a best-selling author, TV personality, and outspoken supporter of gun rights. This summer he performed his 6,000th career concert in his hometown of Detroit, and answered questions via e-mail before his appearance at the annual Labor Day Weekend Rib America Festival here.
How was your 6,000th concert on July 4th? Did you ever imagine you’d reach such a milestone?
Nugent: “Beyond my rock & roll dreams! Starting out 50 years ago, all I wanted to do was play guitar and try to climb the Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry mountain tops. Surrounded by the world’s greatest musicians all these years, especially this amazing night with Greg Smith on bass and Mick Brown on drums, the music continues to throttle my very soul! The evening was incendiary.”
After all these years, tours, and albums, what continues to make you a human tornado?
Nugent: “My runaway quality of life comes from prioritizing and gung-ho discipline to be the best that I can be. My entire team, family, band, crew, hunting associates, editors, publishers, everyone, are all masters of their crafts demanding and performing excellence each and every day. Positive energy begets positive momentum. I call it the American Dream.”
Contrast being on stage with being in the wild. What are those two sides like for you?
Nugent: “My incredible high energy music is both opposite and alike my gung-ho hunting, fishing, trapping, outdoor lifestyle. Physically demanding and spiritually invigorating. Both ferociously intense and deeply satisfying at the same time. Surely the quintessential balance for the ultimate life, dare I say.”
How does the Motor City imbue you as a musician and performer?
Nugent: “The pure, primal scream emotion that defines Detroit music, exemplified by the mighty Motown Funkbrothers and all things Motown, right on through Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the MC5 in their day, Brownsville Station, Bob Seeger, Grand Funk, the Romantics, Kid Rock, the White Stripes, Eminem, and yours truly pivot upon the genuine soul of the Detroit spirit and energy. It is what I believe to be the most dynamic music in the history of the world. We deeply care about and crave the music unto itself and put our hearts and souls into every note, every song, every performance.”
What’s it like boldly stating your opinions and living your life as you see fit, even though doing so (and being an entertainer) you risk alienating part of your audience?
Nugent: “I’m addicted to truth and logic, and despise the dishonesty of the cult of political correctness. To feign concern about feelings instead of doing the right thing is spiritual suicide and I will have no part in it. If someone hates me for my beliefs, that is as it should be. My detractors are fools.”
Being a legendary musician, author, TV host, and now film actor, is there anything left for you to conquer that you want to?
Nugent: “I have yet to experience the joys of being a grand marshal for my first gay rights parade. There is much work to be done.”