Multi-platinum award winning rockstar Ted Nugent swept the 1960s and 70s with his energetic and frenzied guitar playing and his unmistakable, wide-range voice. For decades, Nugent has produced and toured for countless albums, including his early works with his former band, The Amboy Dukes, and other solo artists.
Later, Nugent forged his own name in the Rock’n’roll hall of fame as a solo musician, producing timeless tracks like Stranglehold and Cat Scratch Fever, the latter of which was named one of the greatest hard rock songs of all time by VH1.
Now 74 years of age, how does Nugent spend his days? This soul-called artist, who remains time-defyingly high spirited and youthful, creates music. His latest album, Detroit Muscle, was released earlier this year. Yet Nugent’s contributions to the world extend far beyond the music industry.
Nugent actively advocates for American outdoor culture and “the Spirit of the Wild.” He also participates in diehard conservative activism, where he fearlessly fights to protect traditional, God-given American rights.
Katy Christian Magazine recently had the privilege to interview Ted Nugent. He captivated our writers with his energetic, charismatic and humorous personality and his fascinating yet simplistic worldviews.
Nugent, an impassioned and free thinking individual, who has been interviewed by the likes of Joe Rogan and Tucker Carlson, and famously crushed Piers Morgan in a debate about gun control, offers our readership bits and pieces of his intriguing life.
Tell me about your upbringing. What was it like to be raised in Detroit in the 1940s and 50s?
“I was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1948, in probably the most positive and celebratory atmosphere and geographical region in the world. Detroit was known as the ‘Arsenal of Democracy,’ which, by the way, wherever I show up, even today, I turn it back into the ‘Arsenal of Democracy,’ in my own little American middle-finger way,” Nugent said, chuckling.
“My point being, we stopped making cars and trucks and we started making tanks and bombers to defeat and destroy the clear and present evil of the Japanese and Nazi monsters, that were threatening everything good in the world. It took the spirit of independence and rugged individuality, as propelled by the knowledge that these GIs, the American warriors, came home to a constitutionally guaranteed, God given right, experiment in self-government.”
“That was the motivation that even the other warriors from Britain, and our allies, they didn’t quite have that piss and vinegar that the American GIs had.”
“When I was born… [people had] work ethic. God, family, country, good over evil, good-willed decency, respect. The work ethic, the drive, to be the best that you can be and be productive, to be in the asset column, for your family, your community, your great nation, for the world.”
Why is American outdoor heritage a value you hold so dearly?
“My dad was a follower of the great Fred Bear, who had reintroduced the mystical flight of the arrow, bowhunting discipline. You know, hunting the big game of America with the self-restricted bow and arrow, which is probably one of the most difficult things in the world.”
“The mystical flight of the arrow is a samurai challenge, and samurai discipline. You have to be one with your God-given gifts of sensuality, spirit, intellect, the physics of spirituality. The left hand has to communicate definitively with the right hand through hand-eye coordination, your brain has to control ‘mister trigger finger,’” Nugent laughed.
“It’s the ultimate marksmanship, aim small, miss small, challenge and discipline. The bow and arrow will either teach you to be totally focused, or you’re not going to hit the bullseye. I like to hit the bullseye in life.”
“But it was so soul cleansing, to discover that higher level of awareness via the martial arts of archery, especially when trying to kill dinner, and balance the herds, and perform conservation responsibilities. That atmosphere guided my life like I was taught to guide my arrow.”
“Compelled with that bowhunting intrigue and fantasy and fascination, there was also Chuck Berry and Little Richard at the same time. So, I started creating bands and combos and duets and trios and planned this new exciting electric guitar rhythm in rock and roll.”
“And here it is, 74 years later, and I’m doing the same thing today, and it’s so fulfilling and gratifying and challenging, to continue to find new sonic territory on the guitar, which I do every day, and to explore the swamps and forests and marshes and rivers and lakes and gullies of Michigan, where I hunt most of the time. I’m telling you, I call it ‘the Spirit of the Wild,’ and I’ve had it for 74 years.”
You mentioned “the Spirit of the Wild.” Describe your VH1 show Surviving Nugent, where you tested participants’ “backwoods” abilities.
“Well, you know, I’ve been given a lot of grief. It doesn’t give me grief; I get a kick. It rolls off my back personal hygiene from Michael Moore,” Nugent said with a laugh.
“People attack me for ‘being a coward,’ for ‘killing innocent animals.’ Now I’ve got to tell you, killing a deer doesn’t take courage, it just takes stealth and strategy. I’m not ‘brave’ to kill a deer. Now, hunting grizzly bears and elephants, that’s a different story.”
“So, we came up with this concept where I take a bunch of city people, non-hunters, and some anti-hunters. I take them out into the woods and teach them how to shoot, hunt, survive and sustain themselves.”
“It was highly entertaining, but it was highly educational, too, because even the animal rights freak who was part of our show, she was like, ‘Boy, you taught me what I never knew.’ And what I’d taught her was that if you’re only going to eat vegetables and fruit, the production of [this] slaughters trillions upon trillions of living creatures every year, to protect the produce from the vermin’s, insects, gophers, crows…” Nugent listed, continuing to name off wildlife.
“In order to grow a salad, you have to kill everything that jeopardizes the production of that salad content. If they weren’t hearing it from me, they would have never heard that. But it’s true! Nobody can deny that. And so, it was very entertaining, but it was also very educational. And I made some good friends.”
You’re fluent in survival techniques. How would you handle a zombie apocalypse?
“Well! I’d probably pull off one of the guns that I have on my belt and kill them,” Nugent exclaimed. “I’d probably go for center mass. I carry a ten millimeter, I don’t have to get them two to the center, I only have to get them one to the center.”
“But I train every day. I’ve trained with SWAT, and I’ve been a Sheriff Deputy for forty years now, so I have to qualify every year. But I enjoy marksmanship. I enjoy safe and efficient, proficient gun handling. Especially in this engineered recidivism chaos that the Democrats created, just letting out murderers and rapists and car jackers and stabbers…” Nugent said.
“They keep letting them out! There are more dangerous, violent criminals walking on the street right now than at any point in recorded history, thanks to the Democrats and the George Soros funded district attorneys and judges who just keep letting savages out into our neighborhoods.”
“So, in order to get through the day, if you’re unarmed and helpless, that’s what an evil person loves. Evil people love gun control. My idea of gun control is two bullets in the same hole.”
“Gun Control” is one of the many hoaxes you’ve taken on. How do you feel about the backlash surrounding your conservative political activism? Does it ever get to you?
“Oh, it gets to me, it inspires me. I know I’m right. I know that God, country, law and order, and work ethic are all of the qualities that produce the ultimate quality of life. So, when people try to push back on it… I don’t know if you’ve ever seen my so-called debates!” Nugent snickered.
“You might want to Google my Piers Morgan debate and see how I just decapitated that goofball. And my Texas Monthly interview with Evan Smith, and he was playing devil’s advocate, and by the way, if you’re going to counter what I believe in, you would be the devil’s advocate.”
“So no, it doesn’t deter me, it inspires me. I know I’m right… I’m more than happy to just [squash] the people who are against me… they are atheists, they hate America, they celebrate crime, they don’t believe you need to earn your own way. My enemies are the lowest scum that have ever slivered the earth.”
“And it’s fun to crush them.”
“If I may, I have a wonderful charity that I’m involved with, Young Americans, that are saving the lives of young Americans, because Uncle Sam is importing fentanyl to kill Americans. That’s an outrageous statement, but the evidence is irrefutable,” Nugent said.
“Also, if they would join me at Hunter Nation. We’re circling the wagons for conservative voters so that we can get God, country, family, law and order back into policymaking.”
Why do you choose to devote your time, public image, and resources to conservative causes?
“Because I’m the head of a household, I’m husband and a father, I’m a grandfather, I’m a band leader, I’m a band member, I’m a guide, I’m an outfitter, I’m a New York Times bestseller, I’m an off-road racer, I’m a farmer, I’m a rancher, I’m a cop!”
“I’m in the asset column of the American dream. And I saw that there’s an unbelievable, unprecedented movement against being in the asset column. The Democrats, liberals, communists, Marxists, they believe that you should be a liability.”
“That the dream is to be a liability and to take from others. To be a bloodsucker. And I saw that. So, I started raising Hell for the things that I believe in. The founding fathers wanted every American to be just like me, period,” Nugent said.
How have “Cancel Culture” and social media censorship affected you?
“I had between 24 million and 36 million Facebookers before the 2016 election. And when we got Trump elected, the censorship police, the fact-checking liars, the left-winged communists, Marxists, and America hating big tech, they reduced me from 36 million to 3.5 million.”
“Even today, if you try to get on my Facebook, you’ll be warned that I violate the community standards, because I represent truth, logic and common sense,” Nugent laughed.
“And if you want to offend the community standards of ‘big tech,’ you would be truthful, and have common sense, they can’t stand that. In fact, if people would go to my website, we have some wonderful battle cries.”
Tell me about your relationship with God throughout your journey.
“I was raised in a hunting family, and when you hunt, and you kill an animal, that’s a great challenge and discipline and higher level of awareness. You realize that the Big Bang could not have created a heart and lungs and the incredible escape mechanisms of these magnificent animals that God created.”
“That was creation by the Hand of God, and you’re driven to participate as a servant of God. So yes, I believe in God, I’m a Christian… I could give you many, many examples, I should not have survived certain occurrences, and God saved my life and pulled me through. Many, many dangerous situations. He has a plan for me, He woke me up, and He continues to wake me up,” Nugent said.
“When I saw the hippies and the beatniks intentionally poisoning their lives to pursue a comfortable numbness, and ‘comfortably numb’ is actually ‘uncomfortably dumb,’ I mean, it’s just irresponsible, and it’s rude, it’s disrespectful, it’s condescending, it’s selfish.”
“And nowadays, thanks to the FDA, the USDA and the CDC, these corrupt evil bureaucracies have created a diet for Americans that has no food or quality nutrition or vitamins or minerals in it. Most of what the FDA stamps approved is poison. I started witnessing this as a hunter; my [prey] is the ultimate natural, healthy diet.”
“I compared it to people who are just blowing up with unhealthy obesity because they’re eating diet, no-sugar, fat-free stuff, and all those natural ingredients are replaced with chemicals. Thanks to big pharma and the corruption of our government.”
“And if anyone doesn’t understand the line I’m taking here, they might want to call 1-800-NumbNut, and Michael Moore will explain why personal hygiene isn’t necessary,” Nugent gibed.
“I mean, we’ve really become some dumb, ignorant, careless, de-souled, sheeplike people out here, and so that was my calling [from God], to stand up against the lie of ‘peer pressure,’ and when people made fun of me for carrying a gun… God gave me the precious gift of life, and I have a moral obligation to defend it. That’s why we wrote the First Amendment, it’s a God given individual right.”
“So, I went on a Holy war against political correctness, and now the cultural war turned into a spiritual war. That’s why all of the enemies of mankind hate Ted Nugent, lie about Ted Nugent, put quotes around words that never came out of my mouth and attributed them to me, and I couldn’t be prouder that I have caused the worst people in the world much pain and suffering and anguish. Because I’m doing good, and everybody who has a problem with me, is a bad, bad person,” Nugent said.
You’ve always refrained from drugs and alcohol. Why did you choose to be ‘Straight Edge’ in the 1970s? What was this like, as a rockstar?
“It was the easiest thing in the world to do,” Nugent said, laughing. “I saw everybody getting high and drunk, drooling, wetting their pants, throwing up, dying!”
“And they thought that was a party!” Nugent exclaimed. “Oh, I party baby, but not with drugs or alcohol or stupid people. They literally think suicide is a party. And as a bowhunter, I knew I couldn’t be stoned or drunk, or I’d have to buy chicken! I could never get close to game, I could never sneak up on a deer if I was drunk or stumbling.”
“So, the decision was total pragmatism. Total utilitarian common sense: if you’re going to play killer guitar with amazing musicians, oh my God, listen to the music The Amboy Dukes did when we were fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old. We were dedicated musicians, and they were just gifted and talented. And the work ethic.”
“And then some of them started getting high and drunk and they lost it! That’s why I continued to move forward, and they didn’t. But only some of them, and some of them [didn’t]… being stoned and drunk ruins everything! So, I avoid stuff that ruins everything.”
Speaking of lifelong sobriety, is this what inspired you to serve as a spokesperson for drug and alcohol resistance now?
“Luckily, I’ve been clean and sober my whole life. I’ve never been drunk or stoned; I’ve never smoked dope. I mean, sometimes, around the campfire, my buddy brings some Cuban cigars, and we have some red wine with the venison. I don’t think that makes me a drinker. I think red wine is probably way better for you than a sugary soft drink.”
“Shemane and I will have red wine on occasion with our venison, and white wine with our bluegill filets. Shemane’s in charge of that,” Nugent laughed.
“I mean, I started the Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids, a 501 (c) (3) volunteer camp for charity, way back in 1989, after my buddy passed away. And we graduated tens of thousands of young boys and girls into the battle cry of quality of life that starts with being clean and sober. And putting your heart and soul into any dream or ambition that you want and being the best that you can be.”
“When I speak to the children, they know I’m sincere, because I have the credentials. I’ve been clean and sober, and a lot of these gifted musicians… are dead, way before they needed to be, because they thought getting drunk and stoned was cool and hip,” Nugent warned.
“And it’s not cool. It’s not hip. It’s really horrible.”
Tell me a little bit about the work you do with terminally ill children.
“Well, you can tell over the phone, I have a bit of an attitude,” Nugent joked. “I’m an independent guy, I’m a thinking guy. I’ve been a critical thinker before the term was coined. When someone recommends something to me, I put it through my heart-soul-intellect screening process.”
“So, when I start mouthing off, if you’re not prejudging, what I’m mouthing off about really makes sense. And I have a happy life to prove that applying what I’m mouthing off about might be good for everybody, and everybody should probably try it.”
“So, kids see me. Little boys and girls, [their families] have contacted me, with six, seven, eight-year-old children. And their last wish in life is to go hunting with Ted Nugent? Well, at first, I’m going, ‘What could I possibly have done to deserve that?’”
“What an honor! What a privilege and a gift, to think that I could bring some solace, some temporary laughter around a campfire with a little boy or girl that is dealing with imminent death. And they choose me?”
“It goes back over 40 years. They express that they’ve seen me on TV or doing an interview, they see a concert, maybe a county fair, where the kids come, and they like what I celebrate. They like when I talk about archery and the spirit of the wild, and having fun, and being the best that you can be.”
“The things that I celebrate, it connects with people who are not inhibited. And most children are just open, they’re absorbing information on experiences and dynamics, to create an intellect and a catalog and an arsenal of information and knowledge. And at those young, young ages, they pick up on, that this Ted Nugent guy, is fun,” Nugent said.
“And I think the defiant factor, I think kids instinctively relate to a guy who is defiant for the right causes. And they have chosen me. And I’m pretty good with the English language, but I’m helpless to adequately express the emotion and the spirituality that I have been honored and privileged to receive from people who choose me to say goodbye to this life.”
“It’s… it’s… it’s indescribable,” Nugent said, the outspoken man momentarily inarticulate. “I’m humbled beyond words. That’s why, when these families think I’m qualified to fulfill their dying child’s wish, then what critic could possibly impact me?”
“My critics are funny, they’re funny stupid. They don’t even penetrate my atmosphere. They bring me great laughter, because dying children determined that I’m okay. And if a dying child and their family thinks that I’m okay, guess what? I’m okay.”
You’re known for your work to end wounded and disabled veteran homelessness in Detroit. Tell us about this.
“I always figured out, once I overcame the ignorance that the American anti-education system filled me up with, and I realized that freedom is not free, and the history of man is one battle after another,” Nugent said.
“I didn’t get drafted. Of course, the media lies and claims I dodged the draft. I didn’t dodge anything. I passed my physical with flying colors. I was Bruce Lee when I was nineteen. I could leap small villages in a single bound, I was so athletic,” he laughed.
“Heck, if I’d have wound up drafted, I probably would have won the war. But I’m glad I didn’t get drafted because it was an illegal war, it was an evil abuse of power by our government, and cost nearly sixty- thousand young men their lives… that being said, the warriors coming back from Vietnam would track me down because they would hear my interviews celebrating the Second Amendment.”
“So these warriors, who had to drag their buddies off the battlefield in body bags, fighting for the constitutional guarantees of God-given individual rights, they tracked me down, and I started realizing what was going on. Then I looked into World War II and Korea, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, and I started understanding that war is necessary when good has to destroy evil.”
“So, I made a great, deep connection with these heroes in the military,” Nugent recalled. “We started hunting together, and a lot of them had post-traumatic stress, before they had a diagnosis for such a thing, and I was seeing how they came alive around a campfire and in the squirrel woods, and in the bass boat.”
“And I saw that the healing powers of nature were the finest healing powers available. Way better than big pharma or somebody scamming, you know, ‘Wear a mask and take this experimental shot,’ evil medical people out there.”
“So, I started donating to multiple military cherry fundraisers. I started signing guitars and motorcycles and bows and arrows and guns and ammo… I started signing all of this stuff, and eight by ten photos and flags, to raise money for the veterans, and I created an amazing relationship with these heroes,” Nugent said.
“And right now, I have an ongoing blood brotherhood with Delta Forces, Special Ops, Special Forces, Navy Seals, Army Rangers. I have great, great, military friends who hunt and rock and roll. We train together. The Black Hawk Down guys, the guys who killed Osama Bin Laden…”
“I have a great relationship with the heroes in the military, so I make sure that whenever there’s a fundraiser, I’m involved. And I represent a charity here in Michigan that is fighting to eliminate the scourge, the embarrassment of homelessness among vets. We need to make sure that this does not exist in America.”
Share with me your biggest highlight of your solo career.
“Oh, that’s yet to come,” Nugent mused. “I want everybody to take a deep breath and listen closely. Every time I grab my guitar is the peak of my musical dream.”
“Throughout 1956, 1957, when I stumbled and struggled and made these God awful, anti-music noises,” Nugent joked, “I couldn’t play for squat! But I stuck with it, my dad made me practice. God bless the discipline of a good father and mother.”
“When I got up this morning, I took care of my dogs, I fixed one of my trucks, I filled the bird feeders, I cut a bunch of briars out the fenced road, I shot my bow and arrow, I worked on a new rifle, and I vacuumed and did the laundry. I just finished with the dishes, I just got back from shopping, and the dog went with me,” Nugent listed.
“I’m a real active guy for 74 years, but when I picked up the guitar, after I did a few chores… I’m not sure God has authorized some of the licks I’ve played yet. There’s a voice in our souls… and it’s not just guitar playing,” Nugent said, mentioning some of his gifted mechanic friends.
“In my life, archery, promoting God, family, country, law and order, fighting the culture war demons, making music that accelerates and exhilarates and intrigues me… the stuff I was playing this morning on that Gibson Byrdland, through that old custom amplifier, in a concrete arsenal.”
“In my barn, surrounded by my guns, ammo, bows and arrows, horsepower, and the dogs… when one puts one’s heart and soul into any given endeavor, for me it’s my music, it’s out of body… there’s no evil… it’s me, and the airwaves I breathe, and create notes and voices and melodies, sounds, rhythms, grooves, emotions, irreverent grinding patterns.”
“A real musical journey is ripe with uncharted territory. I don’t even approach the guitar that way, it happens when I grab it… And all the songs on [Detroit Muscle], it’s some of the best music I’ve ever made, and when it comes on the radio, my truck goes faster,” Nugent said.
“I’m experiencing the peak of my musical career right now.”