Legendary musician Ted Nugent made it big in the 1960’s and 70s with classic hits like Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold, and went on to become one of the biggest names in rock and roll. But you may not know that he’s also an activist and advocate for the men and women who serve. Last Tuesday, Ted took the stage in support of our troops and other safety personnel, performing at SafetyHeroes.org’s 5th annual fundraiser and raising $14,000 for Semper Fi Fund. We had a chance to interview the rock star and get some exclusive insight into his take on music, the military, and what it means to be American.
SFF: You’ve had an incredible career as a musician, with some of the most memorable hits and guitar lines in rock history. In fact, many might say that your sound really defined “American rock” for a generation. How did and does your patriotism influence your songwriting?
TN: I was extremely privileged to be welcomed into the military community in my early years mostly because I was unafraid to celebrate publicly that I was a gun guy and hardcore hunter. Once the uninhibited campfire dialogue got going we came to realize we all believed in the same thing–that America is where mankind has freedom and that it didn’t come free. Being raised by a gung-ho US Army Calvary drill sergeant taught me the critical importance of discipline and patriotism, and this spirit and mindset were driving forces in pretty much everything I did. The Stranglehold guitar line and pulse is pure defiance, and I’m convinced that is the most important attribute of a good American.
SFF: Are there any specific artists that have had a particular influence on your work?
TN: All the original influences and inspirations from the founding fathers of American R&B are alive and well in my music and all dedicated musicians today. You will feel the soul of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, James Brown, Wilson Picket, Sam and Dave, Booker T, Stax/Volt, Chess records, the mighty Motown Funkbrothers and more in all the best touring bands today.
SFF: From performing at Camp Pendleton’s Rockin’ the Corps, to the USO Tour of the Persian Gulf, not to mention the concerts and backstage passes you’ve donated, it’s clear how important it is to you to give back to our troops. Why have you made it such a priority to support our military?
TN: I have always understood the powerful and quality of life determining truism that freedom is not free and that it is paid for by the blood, guts, and lives of the US Military warriors. I have saluted many flag-draped coffins and shared campfires with heroes recovering from disastrous injuries and witnessed the courage and defiance they live by. Our every day is a direct result of a soldier, sailor, airman and Marine sacrificing dearly and we owe them everything.
SFF: What are some of the songs we should expect to hear at the concert? Will your set list include classics like Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold? Will we hear any of your newer songs too?
TN: There is an unwritten law that many of my masterpieces must be performed or God will not let any more deer cross my path within bow range. Plus the natives will get restless, people will get hurt and many things will be broken. I remain the humble servant of fun gluttons worldwide. As the great Dirty Harry once stated, “A man has got to know his limitations.” And clearly I have failed miserably.