Ted Nugent

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

Gonzo.

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

anti-government.

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.