It’s been said that Ted Nugent is someone who divides people into two camps: you either love him or you hate him. To those who love him, Ted is one of the standard bearers of the conservative cause.
Pro-Second Amendment rights, anti-welfare, anti-Obama and in favor of smaller government, “The Nuge” has never been one to hide his political opinions. In fact, the opposite is true, as he’s been known to criticize and demonize those forces he feels strongly about in no uncertain terms from the stage or on a radio or television broadcast.
He’s said that Obama should “suck on my machine gun,” and that America’s failure in Iraq was “not to Nagasaki them.” He’s joked about animal rights activists, homosexuals, supporters of Islam and CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer.
Unlike many rock musicians, Nugent is deeply informed about politics and is not shy about sharing his views.
Who is Ted Nugent? The self-proclaimed “Motor City Madman” is someone who’s been playing music for a long, long time — since 1958, in fact. Nugent himself has said he’s played more than 6,400 shows in a career spanning five decades, and by the sound of his latest performances, he doesn’t seem to be close to slowing down yet.
He’s shared stages with Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and KISS among many other notable acts. With more than 30 albums and 40 million records sold, Nugent is a one-man Rock ‘n Roll army who has been involved with charities and political causes well outside the world of arena rock concert touring.
Nugent has been a board member of the National Rifle Association since 1995 and is a spokesman for Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), the Pass It On Outdoor Mentors program and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Nugent is an outspoken advocate for hunting and outdoor sports and has said that American youth must be educated in survival skills instead of being zombified by TV and video games. He’s been named a Bowhunting Legend of the 21st Century and was inducted into the National Bowhunters’ Hall of Fame.
He’s written books about hunting and other subjects, several of which have been New York Times bestsellers. He’s also starred on his own Outdoor Channel television show, Ted Nugent: Spirit of the Wild, and made numerous appearances on other shows, series and in animated cartoons such as the Simpsons.
He’s been a frequent guest of radio and TV personalities Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Howard Stern, Larry King and Bill Maher as well as having his own radio show on Detroit station WWBR-FM.
Unlike many rock stars, Nugent has always advocated a clean lifestyle free from alcohol and drug abuse. Although he subsequently found out that some of his own band’s songs were about drug experiences, Nugent was looked at as something of a hero to punk musicians such as Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye who were inspired by his “straight edge” (refraining from alcohol or drug consumption) living.
Rollins has said that Nugent’s performances were “the craziest thing we’d ever seen onstage and here’s this guy saying, ‘I don’t get high.’ We thought that was so impressive.”
Nugent frequently punctuates his frenetic guitar-playing with manic foul remarks such as, “I’m a f***in American” and “It’s time to go hunting in the f***in park now. You got too many f***kin squirrels in the park, gotta kill ’em all.” In the last 20 years, Nugent has become more and more involved in politics and political causes.
Nugent has been asked numerous times if he’s interested in running for political office himself. In 2003, there were rumors he might run for senator in Illinois against Obama since he grew up in the state.
In May of 2005, Nugent said he was “getting real close to deciding to run” for governor of Michigan, and in 2007, he again made public statements to that effect.
According to Nugent, “Michigan was once a great state. Michigan was a state that rewarded the entrepreneur and the most productive, work-ethic families of the state. Now the pimps and the whores and the welfare brats are basically the state’s babies.”
In 2008, Nugent vowed, “I was serious when I threatened to run for office in the past if I cannot find a candidate who respects the U.S. Constitution and our sacred Bill of Rights.” If elected, he said, “I would fire every government worker whose job I would deem to be redundant and wasteful. No able-bodied human being would ever get a handout again.”
Nugent has been critical of GOP presidential candidate and Senator John McCain while praising his running mate Sarah Palin (who has claimed that hunting in Alaska is necessary for state citizens’ survival and who has promoted aerial hunting from helicopters to the state’s hunters).
He’s also on record as supporting both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, saying of the former that “My dream would be if Ted Cruz became president tonight. I really admire Ted Cruz, on many levels.” He earlier had proposed Trump for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
At the same time, Nugent has harshly disparaged President Obama, calling him “a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel [and] ACORN community organizer gangster.”
He subsequently apologized for this remark after being criticized by Senator Rand Paul; however, Obama is frequently a target of Nugent’s wrath, and before the president was re-elected in 2012, Nugent stated, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” a comment that drew a personal visit from the Secret Service.
At 67, Nugent is just as vocal as ever about his beliefs, and whether it’s Piers Morgan interviewing him or CBS’ Jeff Glor, he’s not afraid to tell the media and the public just what he thinks, and he has the conviction and the vocabulary to back it up.
That’s a lot more than can be said for many rock stars and even political commentators out there these days. Whether it’s onstage antics or interview walkouts, let’s hope that “The Nuge” has a few more decades of public life left.