Extremism in Defense of Rock ‘n’ Roll was no Vice: Then Ted went off the rails

Posted in Extremism, Ted Nugent at 12:39 pm by George Smith


As said, an unauthorized book on Ted Nugent as a portrait in US extremism occurred to me while recently looking over the the stuff in the blog tab I’ve archived on the guy.

It looked like a good basis for an outline because Nugent publicly shows a form of destructive and irrational extremism which has always been present on the fringes of society. But which how now been mainstreamed with barely anyone blinking an eye.

Nugent’s politics are essentially the same as the white ricin kooks I used to write about years ago.

His is the philosophy of the survivalist nuts who wrote things like The Poor Man’s James Bond, a stupidly mean series of books — always found on the bookshelves of loner white weapons freaks bound for jail, packed with articles on how to make guns, bombs, ammo, poisons, incendiaries and boobytraps in case the tyrannical government was coming for you.

Part of the come-on adorning the back of Kurt Saxon’s Poor Man’s James Bond reads thusly:

Also, in the event that our nation is invaded by Foreign Devils, it is up to you to destroy them with speed and vigor. Or — and perish the thought — if our Capitol should fall to the enemy within, I expect you to do your duty.

Ten years ago that was still the domain of the total crackpot, someone who had to self-publish to get the word out. Not so, anymore, as a listen to Ted Nugent and Alex Jones proved in about fifty seconds over the weekend.

Nugent now signs off a growing number of his columns with blandishments to go “varmint hunting” with “no bag limit.” He tacks it to the election in November, just so you know he’s speaking figuratively.

But, if you take the guy’s words seriously — and he certainly does, one naturally wonders if Nugent only tacks on the voting part because an editor makes him. Or as an act of self-preservation because he still has a hunch he’d be crossing a line of civilization he’d never be able to retreat back over if he didn’t.

Beset by paranoid conspiracy thinking, Nugent either parrots virtually everything that’s on Glenn Beck — a man who in the passing of a day continually links the Obama administration to Nazism and/or communism. Or in GOP memos issued for any given week.

But Beck is a much much larger force than Nugent, who as a commentator and pundit, exists only at the behest of Fox News, where he gets thrown scraps for being a colorful character.

I do know that at one time Nugent was a mainstream rock star in every sense of the word.

So in this man there is a radical reversal of fortune or ways and means in his life. And it coincidentally mirrors the decline of manufacturing and the growing desperation of the middle class.

To where now Nugent’s musical audience is almost exclusively non-payers from Paul Fussell’s bottom-out-of-sight demographic. And his bread-winning, aside from his live shows, is alms from the political audience where he’s a convenient carnival servant to the big celebrities from the extreme right.

Much more recently, like now, one sees Nugent as a a barnacle in the latest John Rich video.

Rich, of country megastar band Big & Rich, is now on a year or two long solo act kick, apparently so as not to have the psychedelic hippy, Big Kenny, always at his stage right.

And an article at Gibson guitars on Rich’s new song, “Country Done Come to Town,” is here. (The video is embedded here, too. By all means, watch it.)

It’s an amusing modern country tune and Nugent features prominently, well shot at angles minimizing his spreading middle third.

A vid about a power-drinking party hearty, Nugent takes his place as part of the festivities (which look like a beer endorsement), elbowing away from the bar in a move that looks just like what you’d expect from a thirsty shot drinker. Mr. Rage On About the Virtue of Teetotalism must have taken the day off.

The modern country audience — at least the imagery of it — is a natural one for Nugent. In fact, it was his audience in the late Seventies, in a harder form. But now Uncle Ted’s way up around the bend and the country music power structure is conservative in the sense that it won’t stomach too negative public politicking or abide the crazy and mean. With the latter only given dispensations for super freakishness in quick cut video or tucked away in hidden CD “bonus” cuts for purposes of hardy-har-har. (See Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens or anything involving Two Foot Fred.)

One sees Nugent’s plight pretty clearly.

He’s infamous but not as bankable as his musical talent deserved to make him. Nugent can be a spokesperson for Massey, the much vilified coal company, or a good ol’ boy with no lines in a straight-to-video Toby Keith movie, someone who gets fifteen minutes on Alex Jones, or be the star of a low budget reality show no one watched — where he injured his leg in a chainsaw misadventure.

There is a pathos to it, a description to which Nugent would probably strongly object.

The Toledo Blade ran an interview with Nugent over the weekend, another advance story stemming from his tour of third-tier concert venues this summer. But Nugent is nothing if not a gamer, more than willing to do his own publicity. And when he stifles old and crazy Ted for a few moments the results are often not bad:

Having marked his 6,000th concert in 2008, Nugent acknowledged in an interview by e-mail that he’s lost most of the hearing in his left ear from playing guitar in front of walls of speakers all those years, “and I limp pretty bad after double knee surgery due to the meniscus-smashing amplifier leaps for 40 years too. Ouch!” he said.


Nugent’s guitar and loin cloth have been on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but despite The Nuge’s relentless touring and career sales of 30 million albums, the Motor City Madman has yet to be inducted into the hall.

“I often feel like an Indian up on the hill overlooking my sacred hunting grounds desecrated by white idiots,” he said.

“Political clowns” on the selection committee have disrespected rock pioneers — citing Hall of Fame inductees Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry as examples — by electing “anti-rockers like Patti Smith, ABBA, and Grandmaster Flash into the same institution. That is just plain rude,” he said.

On Sunday night, Nugent was playing a third tier dump in Oklahoma called Cain’s Ballroom. Cain’s was famous for being one of the venues the Sex Pistols played on their only tour of the US before breaking up.

Manager Malcolm McClaren purposely booked the band through the heart of redneck America, putting them in open combat with the locals. At the end of the tour in San Francisco, the band disintegrated.

The first of three YouTube videos show Nugent onstage at Cain’s on Sunday night. It’s as dire and claustrophobic as any video from the back of the crowd in a firetrap can be.

The next is a professional news clip of the Sex Pistols at Cain’s in 1978. Hang on for the reaction of the locals at the end.

Now you’re wondering, “Where was Ted in 1978?”

Headlining California Jam II. Punk rock had nothing on him.

Getting old is hard on everyone. Some manage it better than others.

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