After crazy rocker/radio show host Ted Nugent holds his 50th Birthday Bash and Wild
Game Dinner later this week, he plans to take a year off. Nugent, who ended his
WWBR/Detroit radio show last month, is planning a birthday party that will include a
celebrity Nugent roast complete with pheasant pot pie and alligator alfredo.
Doug Banker, Nugent's manager, said of Nugent's planned sabbatical: "Ted called me
and said, 'Don't phone me for at least a year.' I was as surprised as anyone else."
Nugent was born in Detroit in 1948. He began playing guitar at 8 and joined such bands
as the Royal High Boys and the Lourdes, the latter of which opened for such groups as
the Supremes and the Beau Brummels.
After he moved with his family to Chicago, Nugent formed the Amboy Dukes, who began
issuing music on Mainstream Records in 1965. The band had a hit two years later in the
Chicago area with "Baby Please Don't Go." It scored nationally with "Journey to the
Center of the Mind," which hit the top 20 in 1968.
Before they broke up in 1975, the band became known as Ted Nugent and the Amboy
Dukes. Nugent sought publicity for the group by staging guitar-playing contests with such
rockers as Iron Butterfly's Mike Pinera and MC5's Wayne Kramer. Nugent specialized in
loud, screeching guitar licks.
Going solo that year, Nugent retained Amboy Dukes' bassist, Rob Grange. The rock
press liked Nugent's caveman image. The resulting stories about him, coupled with
constant touring, brought Nugent a sizable fanbase. He became famous for his sexist
behavior and conservative politics, including his support of the National Rifle
Association; he even hunts his own food.
Free For All (1976) featured Meat Loaf on vocals, but Nugent hit the big leagues
with 1977's Cat Scratch Fever. The title track (RealAudio
excerpt) was a big hit and preceded the multi-platinum sales of Double Live
The following year's Weekend Warriors also sold well, and Nugent's profile was
at an all-time high. But 1979's State of Shock, which featured a cover of the
Beatles' "I Want to Tell You," wasn't as popular. Its follow-up, Scream Dream,
contained the favorite "Wango Tango."
Nugent's 1982 self-titled, self-produced LP was a flop and, in general, his career wasn't
as successful as it had been in the '70s. In 1990, Nugent dropped his solo career and
joined Damn Yankees, which included Styx's Tommy Shaw. Damn Yankees hit with the
power ballads "High Enough" in 1990 and "Where You Goin' Now" in 1992.
Nugent went solo again with 1995's Spirit of the Wild. He also made news that
year when the Toledo Blade said he supported the Michigan militia, the group
linked with the Oklahoma City bombings. Nugent denied it, saying he was not
This year, Nugent toured and also signed on to produce and distribute a beef-jerky
product, Ted Nugent Gonzo Meat Biltong. Nugent explained: "Mankind didn't get clever
till flesh rounded out his omnivorous diet. Enter the next millennium of creativity and
increase the celebration of the flesh with prime-cut biltong. You can't beat my meat."
Nugent is planning a new solo album and a project with the Damn Yankees.
Other birthdays: Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan), 50; Tony Gomez
(Foundations), 50; Tom Verlaine (ex-Television), 49; and Berton Averre (Knack), 44.