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SteveAJones

Ted Nugent Reunites with The Amboy Dukes

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Ted Nugent Gets the Gang Back Together

BY Martin Bandyke DETROIT FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER April 16, 2009

Not everybody is a fan of guitarist Ted Nugent's right-of-center political stance, but there are few dissenters when it comes to his powerful, commanding work in the Amboy Dukes, the hard-rocking group he formed in the 1960s and the one that first brought him national attention. The Amboy Dukes are being presented with a distinguished achievement award at the Fillmore Detroit on Friday as part of the 2009 Detroit Music Awards. In honor of the occasion, Nugent has re-formed the group and will play with his old bandmates for the first time in more than three decades. You'd never guess that Nugent turned 60 last December, judging by his still-passionate approach to life and outspoken, 100-m.p.h. responses to any question thrown his way.

QUESTION: So how are you feeling these days?

A: I'm a lucky, lucky man. My American-dream cup runneth over on a daily basis. There are no words to describe how intense my life is. I'm constantly producing TV shows, and we just wrapped up a CMT special called "Runnin' Wild ... from Ted Nugent," where I get to celebrate the things that turn me on in life, particularly during a culture war where people would ban my life. They would ban my guns, ban my hunting, and I just get up in the morning and squash them.

The giddiness factor is accelerated when I get to pursue musical dreams, especially with the powerful emotions of those original days as an adventurous newcomer to the world of rock 'n' roll.

Q: How did the Amboy Dukes first get together?

A: The Amboy Dukes were formed in Chicago in '65 just after I moved from Detroit. My dad got transferred to the Chicago area, and it was an emotional upheaval for me because I was literally living my rock 'n' roll dream with the band the Lourds. We had won a battle of the bands. We opened for the Supremes and the Beau Brummels at the brand new Cobo. And then I got yanked out of this whirlwind of excitement and moved to Chicago. I literally started the Amboy Dukes the day I got there.

The hot bands in Chicago couldn't hold a candle to Detroit bands. The sheer piss and vinegar, the energy, the attitude, the spirit, the black authority we tried to emulate in our music wasn't present in Chicago. So I brought the band back to Detroit; I needed those Detroit guys back in the band!

I started replacing the Chicago guys and it was tough going for a while. ... But as I surrounded myself with these virtuoso musicians in the Amboy Dukes, we became so hot that we were the first garage band to be recorded in 1967. As I talk to the old guys in the band now, the excitement level is palpable. Everybody loves that moment in time. We were the real McCoy, the Motor City, rock 'n' roll, defiant, rhythm and blues band. To get back together and jam with these guys is very exciting and we're all thrilled.

Q. The Amboy Dukes went through a bunch of permutations with many different musicians. Who will be performing with you at the Music Awards?

A. We'll have our original keyboardist Rick Lober, who's from Detroit, along with his replacement Andy Solomon, who's from Ann Arbor. Both are virtuosos. Steve Farmer will play rhythm guitar and sing, John Drake will sing lead vocals and will be killing tambourines, and Bill White will be playing bass. Our original drummer Dave Palmer hasn't played in 30 years -- he pursued a career in producing and engineering bands, and won a Grammy -- and knew he wouldn't be able to catch up and get his chops together in such a short time. So Jimmy Butler, the original drummer from the Gang, another great '60s band, will be filling in and playing drums. Plus Johnny (Bee) Badanjek, the drummer from Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, will come up and play "Jenny Take a Ride" with us, and we're all stoked for that.

Q. How long has it been since the Amboy Dukes broke up, and how long has it been since you've seen any of these guys?

A. The name Amboy Dukes was still in existence until '74. That's when I decided I would just use my own name and pursue a solo career. A lot of these guys I haven't seen since '67, '68, '69. It wasn't hard to track 'em down once we got word about the DMAs wanting to honor us. John Drake had actually joined me onstage in Chicago last summer. We had a riot, he was in great shape, and shortly thereafter we literally put out an A.P.B. and tracked everyone down in a short period of time

Q. You have been an outspoken anti-drug advocate for decades, and yet the Amboy Dukes' best-known song, "Journey to the Center of the Mind," is considered by many to be the quintessential tune about taking LSD. What's the story there?

A. That's what Steve Farmer was doing when he wrote that song. But I was so ignorant of the drug world back then, so naive. People still don't believe me when I say that I didn't know what those pipes were on the cover of that Amboy Dukes record. I didn't! I didn't have the faintest idea; I thought it was glass artwork. With all the op-art and disjointed, abstract graphics around at the time I thought these were just neat colors and weird shapes. My interpretation of the song is that we should all look at ourselves, examine our lives, and think about the thought process. Think of the cause and effect of one's actions to make sure our actions are accountable.If I had known that song was about LSD I would have said "It's about LSD and let's just play the ... song!" I'm a little embarrassed to admit how stupid I was. But I think that level of naivete was good for me because it kept me strong. I was against what I knew was dangerous and destructive conduct. I still stand by that to this day. I'm more militant against substance abuse than ever.

Q. Are you working on any new material right now?

A. I got new songs that'll scare you! And dare I say, you'll have to hear it to believe it, but I have just created a piece of music called "Never Stop Dreaming" that may be why I was born -- more so than "Stranglehold," more so than "Fred Bear." This song has come from sharing campfires with little boys and girls who are dying of terminal diseases. Through the work of different charities, they picked me to spend their last time on Earth with. For them to give me their stamp of approval at this emotional time of their life inspired this song, and it's a monster piece of music.

Edited by SteveAJones

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This is the guitarist you should be stalking Stevie! ...Terrible Ted,The Master of Cheese!

The cheesiest guitarist of all time...watch 'im boy.

What was Terrible Ted doing Dec 6th 1976 Stevie? Enquiring minds want to know.

They don't call him Terrible for nothing. :D

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What was Terrible Ted doing Dec 6th 1976 Stevie? Enquiring minds want to know.

He was on a canoe trip in North Carolina and he encountered some of the most foul hillbillies anywhere. There was this one snot-nosed, barefoot kid plucking out a tune

on a banjo. That kid grew up to be...you, actually.

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I don't care much for Ted's solo work, but The Amboy Dukes were a really great band. Check this tune out, Ted's guitar sound is loud and furious on this one:

I just love it.

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He was on a canoe trip in North Carolina and he encountered some of the most foul hillbillies anywhere. There was this one snot-nosed, barefoot kid plucking out a tune

on a banjo. That kid grew up to be...you, actually.

:hysterical: Priceless.

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I admit to being largely unfamiliar with Ted's work with the Amboy Dukes beyond Journey to the Centre of Your Mind but I do favor his early solo work quite a bit. I also try not to let a performer's personality interfere with my enjoyment of their music but that can kind of be hard to do with Ted. I don't recall him being that politically outspoken back in the 70s when he had already earned the Motor City Motormouth moniker but in recent years I've found it increasingly difficult to reconcile some of his outright racist and violent remarks. I also didn't care for it too much when I saw him on a bill with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and ZZ Top a few years ago when Ted went over his allotted stage time. They practically had to give him the hook to make way for the headliners, ZZ Top.

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What was Terrible Ted doing Dec 6th 1976 Stevie? Enquiring minds want to know.

On December 6th, 1976, Terrible Ted was in New York City backing up Black Sabbath on their Technical Ecstacy Tour at Madison Square Garden. This concert was actually quite memorable, as Sabbath was joined on stage by none other than Frank Zappa.

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And this is what it was like...

Quite good actually!

Haha, I love it! Must've been a blast for all the old Amboy Duke fans who got to see this performance. Thanks for posting the link.

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