Ted Nugent is Still Crazy After All These Years

News & Politics
This post, written by Howie Klein, originally appeared on Down With Tyranny!

There were always two distinct groups of people interested in the 60s "drug culture." For some, pot, mescaline and LSD and the socio-political subculture that thrived around them were experiences in consciousness-raising, quests for enlightenment and spirituality, escapes from the dark tyranny that had enveloped America in the stultifying McCarthyite 50s. And then there were the mindless, soulless creeps who read about it all in Time, glommed on to what seemed to be happening and never had any clue about any of it whatsoever.

Ted Nugent was one of those behind Door # 2. He has always tried to portray himself and his musical output as part of the creative cultural explosion that included The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, Cream, The Who, Pink Floyd... He wasn't... ever. Nugent had his own fans and he may mock the "dirty, stinky hippies" to his Republican pals today but the unpleasant smells Nugent is complaining about are far more likely to have emanated from the kind of crude and unwashed louts who were enthusiastic about his own high-volume/low-consciousness, uninspired commercial pap. In the 60s I booked every single musical artist mentioned above to play a concert at my college-- except one: Ted Nugent. Even though his 60s band, the Amboy Dukes, tried to capitalize on the drug culture, he was never taken seriously by anyone with more than a two-digit IQ. (To this day Nugent claims he never knew Journey to the Center of the Mind was about drugs.)

The most right wing of the quasi-respectible, neo-fascist propaganda sheets, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, has decided to celebrate Independence Day by inviting the washed up rocker to pen a story about dirty, stinky hippies. Before I go through Nugent's latest raging insanity with you, let me make a disclaimer. When I was part of senior management at Warner Bros-- a divisional president-- many of my colleagues were repulsed by Nugent's bombastic music, bad attitude and reactionary politics. By then he was part of a latter-day hair band called Damn Yankees. There was always a drumbeat of people who wanted to drop them. I wasn't among them. Well, I was among those who found his music, etc. beneath contempt, but my feeling was always that our duty to the company's shareholders, the owners, had to transcend our own sense of taste. Damn Yankees had two commercially successful albums, the 1990 eponymous debut and the less successful Don't Tread. They both sucked but there is always a market for music that sucks and Warner Bros was more famous for music that didn't suck.

In 1967 my friend Bob and I decided to hitchhike from New York to Mexico City. It was a wild, adventurous journey for two teenagers and after Mexico we wound up in San Francisco, in the midst of what is commonly called "The Summer of Love" and what Nugent has dubbed "The Summer of Drugs." I was way into the love part, too broke-- having been robbed of everything but the clothes on my back at the Alamo-- to get much into the drugs part. Nugent's typical publicity-craving outburst today was brought on by the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

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