Words and Photos by Robert Cavuoto
Wildman Ted Nugent is famous to most people for his news-making political rhetoric and unbridled candor, but in the Rock & Roll community, he is known as a musical icon and guitar hero! For well over 50 years, Ted has been cranking out legendary love songs such as “Stranglehold,” “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” “Cat Scratch Fever,” and “Wango Tango.” With such powerful songwriting skills, it a mystery to his legions of fans as to why he is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
Uncle Ted’s devoted fans packed Starland Ballroom yearning to hear Ted give us some well needed old school American rock. From the stage, Ted told the crowd, “I was born in Detroit in 1948 and I like to play guitar” and so began a 90+ minute high energy, kick-ass Rock & Roll show with no apologies.
The Motor City Madman opened the show with “Stranglehold” and continued to pull out many of his classic hits from his career all brimming with the same emotion from when they were written. These songs have truly stood the test of time!
Dressed in black jeans, a snakeskin sleeveless shirt, and cowboy hat; Ted was on a Rock & Roll mission to provide enough blues-inspired riffs for all guitar enthusiasts to last until his next tour. At 71, Ted is still relevant and showcased his ability of being a legendary guitarist and premier frontman. Ted has a wonderful fluid physicality of playing that you don’t see in guitarists nowadays and his voice was in perfect form.
With his blonde Gibson Brydland guitar and bandmates, Greg Smith [bass] and Jason Hartless [drums] he slayed, filleted, and grilled the audience. Prior to the show, I asked Ted about his iconic Brydland guitar and how he is able to control such a wild beast in the live setting. He replied, “The Brydland has its own agenda. It’s a porous hollow jazz guitar with a spruce top that causes all the resonance and feedback even at minimal volume, a threshold of feedback that scares most guitarists. If you watch me closely while I’m playing my leads, I’ll be looking for just the right spot on stage to stand to get that amazing feedback, overtones, and dissidence.”
The set list was the perfect greatest hits CD including; “Gonzo,” “Free for All,” “The Music Made Me Do It,” “Fred Bear,” “Paralyzed,” “Great White Buffalo,” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.” The fan-favorite as you would expect was “Cat Scratch Fever” where Ted told us it was the sexiest riff in America and then proceeded to crush us with it! To end the night, Braveman-Caveman, performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” paying homage to the giant American flag that hung behind the stage all night.
In a world where people think rock is dead, Ted Nugent is keeping it alive and well. James Hetfield said it best when Metallica was being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – “Ted Nugent is Rock & Roll!”