Of course, Nugent is also known for the music he’s made over the course of nearly 50 years, starting with his underground hit with the Amboy Dukes in his native Detroit, a song that swept underground radio in the late ‘60s called “Journey to the Center of the Mind.” It’s been the solo career that followed, though, that helped establish his reputation as the self-proclaimed Motor City Madman. More hard rock than heavy metal, his onstage antics, and catalog of standards have made him a prime draw and the very image of a crazed guitar-welding rocker.
Prompted perhaps by a presidential campaign more freewheeling than any in history, the Nuge seems most interested in talking politics these days, gleefully expounding on his basic beliefs about where the country is headed and what’s needed to be done to wrest control from the party in power. Nugent conveys his adamant views — some of which have drawn accusations of racism and abject extremism — with absolute certainty, shutting down any attempt at a challenge before you might try to level one. Here’s what he had to say during a conversation we had with him recently.
On his use of language:
“Because I do this all the time, my vocabulary is a little more uninhibited than others, shall we say? But I write music that’s out of body, that’s stream of consciousness, and so I find that certain gestures and certain words are more emphatic. The biggest problem is that political correctness came from people being cautious about what they say. But if you’re confident in your intellect and you’re confident in your goals, what your intentions are, then you don’t have to mince words.”
On political correctness:
“I think honesty is always the best policy. If honesty ruffles your feathers, then your feathers needed ruffling. Here’s a great quote for you. The concept of political correctness rolls off my back like hygiene off of Michael Moore. Political correctness is a lie. It’s just the cult of dishonesty. I’ve always tried to make the best of honest and pragmatic and intellectual decisions based on honesty and truth. One and one are always going to make two, no matter how many people are offended by the number two. And that’s really how simple and stupid and pathetic political correctness is, so I dance on its skull on an hourly basis and it’s a joy for me.”
On calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel”:
“That was in response to his daily violations of constitutionality and his oath to the office. His present hatred for America and freedom and our way of life. The guy was raised by communists. He was tutored by communists. Who doesn’t know where this guy came from? This is going to go down in history that Ted Nugent was right all along, and if you think it’s wrong to call a guy that is intentionally dismantling the greatest quality of life that’s ever taken place in the history of humankind — i.e. mental transformation — if you don’t recognize that and that my condemnation in street terminology was right on the mark, then you are an enemy of America. If you support this president who is the enemy of America and find fault with those of us who are criticizing this enemy of America, then you’re an enemy of America.”
On his critics:
“They are consumed with hate. They really believe that people who refuse to be productive deserve some of your wages. The length of their antilogic, anti-American, anti-human atrocities is really unlimited. And if those people find fault with me, you know what it does? Not only does it please me immensely, but it encourages me to stay on the path of logic, truth, and common sense... It proves that I’m on track. And if you really examine where the hate and the threats against me and the condemnation of those terms that describe pure evil and anti-Americanism come from, then identify the source. Those are the punks that bus protestors to my gigs and call my promoters and all my sponsors and claim that I’m a child molester and a draft dodger and a racist and an antisemite... that I torture innocent animals. These are actual quotes that these people constantly barrage. They’re a few looney fringe freaks, but because they don’t have jobs, they can still be paid by these ultra left organizations to muzzle me. Because they know if they try to debate me, I’ll eat their family tree and shit sawdust. They can’t debate me! I’ve got all the facts, all the evidence on my side.”
On charges that he’s a racist:
“I see no color. I see no ethnicity. I don’t know what your ethnicity is and there’s nothing in life I could care less about than someone’s religion or color or way of life choices or gender alignment. None of that means anything to me!"
On claims that Jews are pro-gun control:
“What I did was a posting on my Facebook where it listed a bunch of people that are on record to ban private firearms ownership and are identified as pure evil, and I identified them so someone can know to keep an eye on them. They are in elected positions and they must be voted out of office. And if they have any influence on policy making in America, they must be stopped. They happen to be Jewish people, which is even more astonishing because that’s how Hitler forced them into victimization — by disarming them. How could a Jew or anyone not know that the battle cry of freedom to save our Jewish friends is, 'Never again!' And what does never again mean? That we will never again let anyone disarm people and take control and then send us to the gas chambers. Is my interpretation pretty good there? I had no consideration for their religion because I’m surrounded by Jews. In fact, when I wrote that I was adjusting my yarmulke. I had just dived into some kosher venison. I’ve performed at bar mitzvahs! Give me a fucking break my whole life. What kind of freak would say that age 67, Ted Nugent becomes a Jew hater? You got to be kidding me!”
On politics and the presidential campaign:
"Quite honestly, it’s anybody but a Democrat. These two frontrunners — Ted Cruz, a great man, and Donald Trump, a great man — neither are perfect, but compared to Hilary and Bernie, they’re almost like archangels. I’m pushing to make sure that we stop this fundamental transformation that bribes people for votes, bribes people with the producers’ money. Those of us who work — they’re taking our money to bribe people to vote against us. Who doesn’t know that? I’ve heard people say that Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you’re going to get in today’s politics. Yes, and that’s why nobody cares if he’s a liberal or a conservative or a Libertarian or religious or atheist. Nobody cares. They want to fix America. Stop and think. There’s a debate in America today over whether we should have secure borders or not. Are you kidding me? There’s actually an acceptable colloquialism in America that people have given up looking for work. (Laughs) That’s not America! Or how about the list of jobs that Americans refuse to do? Those words struggle to come out of my lips because it’s so illogical. Can you imagine your kid coming up to you and saying, ‘Dad, I have my list of chores here, and there’s a few on here I’m not willing to do.’ Well, no food for you, son.”
On medical marijuana:
“This is the condition, this is the environment, this is the situation. The guy’s in pain. He’s got leukemia. What can we provide him that will help? Get it!”
On legalization of marijuana for recreational use:
“Who in your life do you want high? Do you want your airline pilot high? How about your plumber? You want your babysitter high? Who do you want high? Deaths with THC in the bloodstream in Colorado since pot was legalized has gone up 44 percent. Who likes this? In my lifetime, the proof is that it’s not okay because the people smoking dope around you are liabilities instantly. I couldn’t rely on them for anything. I have to babysit them. What if I needed help? They want to drop out and get high. There’s no benefit to any of that.”
Ted Nugent. 7 p.m. on Friday, July 22, at Pompano Beach Amphitheater, 806 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach; ticketmaster.com; tickets cost $25-$70.