Charity work, family
life are the flip side of rocker's wild persona
By Sarah D'Esti
Miller ~ Press & Sun-Bulletin - Thursday June 21 2007
Nugent is a rock star whose hits include "Journey to the Center of the
Mind," with the group Amboy Dukes; the chartbusting "High
Enough" with Damn Yankees, and his own classics such as
"Stranglehold," "Cat Scratch Fever" and the cult fave
He's also a magnet for controversy.
Nugent is not shy about his stand on guns (he's currently serving his fourth
year on the National Rifle Association's board of directors), hunting (among
Nugent's New York Times bestsellers is "Kill it and Grill It," which
he co-authored with his wife, Shemane) and his support of conservative causes.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's talk of "shared prosperity"
and her idea to "take those profits" from oil companies sounds an
awful lot like "redistribution of wealth" to Nugent, and he isn't
afraid to say so -- often with expletives. It's no surprise that this pheasant
hunter knows how to ruffle feathers.
"I love this experiment in self-government and I am participating, whether
you like it or not," Nugent said in a phone interview while spending the
day with his son, daughter and grandson.
"I couldn't be prouder to stand on the side of logic, goodwill, decency,
the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, the golden
rule and a sense of the ethical spirit to be productive instead of
And, boy, is Nugent productive. In addition to a music career that has spanned
decades (he just released his 35th album, "Love Grenade"), Nugent has
hosted four outdoors-oriented TV shows that have all been hits and is about to
start a fifth.
In addition to his bestselling books, Nugent currently writes for more than 40
publications, and has won the James Fenimore Cooper Award for writing and
promoting America's outdoor heritage. His conservation efforts led to his being
named Michigan Conservationist of the Year.
He has been appointed Ambassador for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and
for the Pass it On! Outdoor Mentors Program. For Nugent, it's about family and
giving back, as much-- or even more-- than it's about the music.
"Quality of life begins with the genuine quality time and love amongst family
which fortifies you and drives you on an intellectual level to give back, and
the Nugent family is dedicated to so many charity activities right now, the
most important being youth charities for children with tragic health
conditions, and the military charities, helping out the great warrior heroes of
the United States military who sacrificed so much," he said.
"Those charities drive pretty much every day of our lives and every day we
give back as much as we can and join all those generous Americans who do so.
"And that gives you an incredible sense of positive energy, and that ends
up coming out of my guitar and people start dancing. It really is a beautiful
For Nugent, however, being a lightning rod for controversy isn't without its
down side. He tells of a recent interview in which he is misquoted as saying
"All my music heroes are white."
"I always exalt and celebrate the black heroes of my music and I state
very clearly that I have no white musical heroes; they are all black. I say
that actual sentence. ... I went on and on and on. Every black influence that I
celebrate. Dear God in heaven. How can you get it that wrong?"
Nugent isn't angry so much as amused. In fact, what amuses him the most about
the criticism he gets is what he isn't criticized for.
"My critics are in such a scramble to find fault with my stand on
self-defense, my stand on balancing deer herds, my stand in supporting the war
on terror, that they are missing all of the really good substantial criticisms
that exist of me out there," he said.
"There are plenty of things that I have blown in my life and my critics
are so fogged by the silliness of their leftism that they have missed all of
the good criticisms. And so be it."
However, as much as he is reviled by some, Nugent knows what matters most to
"Take, for example, a guy who can not even hear my words to quote me
accurately as my critic or those who would condemn me for being a gun nut or a
hunter or whatever, whatever they want to condemn me for. But dozens of times a
year, every year starting in the '60s, I have families who are facing the
traumatic emotional juncture in their lives where they are preparing to say
goodbye to a child who has a terminal disease. These people call me to take
their little boy or little girl on their last hunting or fishing trip,"
"Who could possibly think that my critics' feeble, transparent
condemnation of anything Ted Nugent could possibly be considered when a family
who has scrutinized what I am made out of, what I represent and how I represent
it, has invited me into their lives at that time? Which has substance and which
Nugent said that he is fascinated by the number of young people at his
concerts, something which he attributes to his TV shows. He is especially happy
with his latest CD.
"I think 'Love Grenade' is the best thing I have ever done," he said.
"This is just a tour to have fun. There just happens to be a new record
that is just fascinating, wonderful, brutal and ferocious. We are so excited
and giddy about this new record. I try to contain myself and fail
Ted Nugent contain himself? That wouldn't be Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman.
"My career defies gravity. The music is much larger than the sum of its
parts, thank God. My critics are the wind beneath my wings. I have such
definitive love and quality time with my family, and I have the hands-on
conservation perfection of my hunting lifestyle.
"I have an incredible team in the Nugent camp with unlimited heart and
soul. My life is so overwhelmingly quality," Nugent said before concluding
the interview. "I've got a grandkid here who wants me to roast some
pheasant breasts, so I've gotta take off."