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updated: 4/24/2012 9:46 AM

Ted Nugent Q&A: Controversy, his life, and garage-rockin' in the suburbs

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  • Ted Nugent performs during the opening ceremony of the 2006 National Rifle Association annual convention in Milwaukee.

      Ted Nugent performs during the opening ceremony of the 2006 National Rifle Association annual convention in Milwaukee.
    AP File Photo/Morry Gash

  • Ted Nugent admires the monument put in front of Durty Nellie's in Palatine, in memory of his mother, longtime Palatine resident Marion "Ma" Nugent.

      Ted Nugent admires the monument put in front of Durty Nellie's in Palatine, in memory of his mother, longtime Palatine resident Marion "Ma" Nugent.
    Daily Herald 2007 File Photo/by Bob Chwedyk

  • Ted Nugent

      Ted Nugent
    Photo courtesy of Ted Nugent

  • Ted Nugent returned to Palatine in 2007 for the dedication of 7,800 pound rock in front of Durty Nellie's in honor of his mother, longtime Palatine resident and entertainment columnist Marian "Ma" Nugent.

      Ted Nugent returned to Palatine in 2007 for the dedication of 7,800 pound rock in front of Durty Nellie's in honor of his mother, longtime Palatine resident and entertainment columnist Marian "Ma" Nugent.
    Daily Herald 2007 File Photo/by Bob Chwedyk

  • Musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent addresses a seminar at a past National Rifle Association's convention in Pittsburgh.

      Musician and gun rights activist Ted Nugent addresses a seminar at a past National Rifle Association's convention in Pittsburgh.
    Associated Press file photo

  • Ted Nugent performs in 2005 at his free Rockin' The Corps concert held at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego.

      Ted Nugent performs in 2005 at his free Rockin' The Corps concert held at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego.
    Associated Press file photo

 

Ted Nugent critiqued some U.S. Supreme Court justices for acting like "stoned hippies," described the Obama administration as "vile, evil and America-hating," vowed to be "in jail or dead" if Obama is re-elected (resulting in a talking-to from the Secret Service) and encouraged his fellow Mitt Romney supporters to "chop their heads off."

The comments prompted the military to cancel his Fort Knox concert, and in a separate matter, Nugent agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and get two years' probation for illegally hunting a black bear in Alaska while filming his Outdoor Channel TV show "Spirit of the Wild."

That was just last week.

Nugent's outspoken conservative commentary and pro-hunting advocacy have eclipsed his Cat Scratch Feverish rock 'n' roll guitar playing that made him a star in the 1970s.

Whether you love him or think he's a nut job, one thing's for sure: Ted Nugent likes to be loud.

A 2002 story on Nugent in the satirical newspaper The Onion was headlined, "Ted Nugent talks that way even when buying socks."

Nicknamed the Motor City Madman because of his Detroit roots, Nugent spent his teen years in the Chicago suburbs. His family moved to Palatine during his junior year of high school, and he graduated from St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights in 1967.

A 7,800-pound monument dedicated to his late mother, Marion "Ma" Nugent -- a music and entertainment columnist who lived in Palatine until her death in 1989 -- still stands in front of Durty Nellie's bar and restaurant.

Last time we checked in with The Nuge was in 2004, after a dust-up in North Barrington over how to reduce the deer population in the upscale Wynstone Estates subdivision.

During the neighborhood discussion, a resident showed a video of Nugent shooting deer and cackling, prompting someone to comment that they don't want "rednecks" like that in their neighborhood.

That got back to Nugent, who -- among other colorful comments -- offered to personally come and kill the deer in North Barrington. Suddenly, the story was national news.

His recent comments have again brought him national headlines even as he winds down his "Great White Buffalo!" tour and next week starts a "Midwest Rock 'N Roll Express" tour with Styx and REO Speedwagon, which comes June 24 to Chicago's Charter One Pavilion.

Communicating by email so he could "save his voice for the tour," Nugent, 63, answered every emailed question except "It's safe to say you're not a fan of President Obama?" Perhaps his answer to that would be a little too loud.

Q. You say your anti-government views made you like "a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally," but your critics say it's your speech that is hateful. Is it?

A. As always, I'm right, my critics hysterically wrong. All the truth and evidence is on (my) side, again.

Q. Have you considered running for president?

A. I am too busy with my "We the people" duties currently. Plus, planet earth needs my definitive Motown spiritual dance soundtrack of defiance.

Q. Let's talk about music. You started out when you were a St. Viator High School student, playing with your band The Amboy Dukes at the teen dance club, The Cellar, in 1965. What are your memories of those days?
A. Started way before that. I had killer bands in Detroit as early as 1955. My Lourds won the Michigan battle of the bands in 1963 and we opened for the Supremes and the Beau Brummels at Cobo Hall. I created the amazing Amboy Dukes in 1965 in the Arlington Heights area and we stormed the status quo bands in about a week. My memory bank runneth over with stunning memories of killer music, unleashed energy, dedicated musicians, gorgeous dreamgirls running amok and the origins of American garage band rock-n-roll. I get all misty eyed with the powerful fun memories. And they keep on firing up again this year. Unbelievable, huh.

Q. You called your upcoming Midwest Rock 'N Roll Express show "The soundtrack for the hard core." Can you explain?

A. My band, Styx and REO, and all the good ones, were and remain inspired by that volatile high-energy Midwest garage band rock that is a direct descendant of the founding fathers, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mitch Ryder, Howling, Muddy, Mose, Robert Johnson, Wilson Pickett, all things Motown, the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Who, et al, that were all inspired by the American masters. That spirit still pounds through our veins and out of our instruments every time we perform and jam. To witness it delivered with such passion in 2012 is a force to reckon with that everybody should witness.

Q. How long have you known the guys from Styx and REO Speedwagon? Do you remember them back from your childhood in Chicago?

A. We all go back to the roaring '60s. They are all great men and killer musicians. This tour will kill.

Q. When you're in Chicago, are there still old friends or family here who you visit?

A. Oh hell yes. It is like a powerful homecoming every time. Plus Chicago is such a wonderful city with incredible eats and great people. We love it more every year.

Q. You've been rockin' for half a century, and you're now a grandfather. Any plans to slow down?

A. My plans include turning up the heat, volume and intensity. Sixty-three years clean and sober with a pure diet of venison will do that for a guy. I can hardly stand myself, I can't imagine how anybody else can.

Q. What do you like doing best: being a radio talk show host, a reality TV star, or being onstage with your guitar?

A. I love every aspect of my thrilling, adventurous high-energy American life. It's all outrageously fun, inspiring and terminally gratifying every day.

Q. What's one thing most people don't know about you?

A. I don't think there are any mysteries left unless you're stoned or living under a rock.

Q. What's on the horizon for you?

A. Outrage, fun, adventure, killer music, phenomenal hunting, spiritual campfires and nonstop upgrade in everything I do.


• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for suburban people in showbiz. If you know of someone, send a note to dgire@dailyherald.com and jsotonoff@dailyherald.com.

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