Nuge Grooves: 40 Surprising Ted Nugent Quotes About Music

You already know The Nuge’s ideas on guns and meat. How about rock—and other rockers?

Ted Nugent, the self-tiled debut LP by former Amboy Dukes guitar slinger Ted Nugent exploded into record stores in September 1975. As anyone with working ears knows well, the Motor City Madman has never stopped making rackets ever since.

Most often of late, Uncle Ted has garnered attention with his outspoken opinions that run bombastically in opposition to “political correctness”—so much so, in fact, that even many who agree with Ted might occasionally wish he’d tone it down a notch.

What no one wishes for Ted Nugent to tone down is his music.

So for any Outrage Police who saw the phrase “Ted Nugent quotes” and came rushing to demand apologies and cry for censorship: Go clutch your pearls elsewhere (you already know the Internet is loaded with such opportunities).

Instead, let’s all celebrate 40 years of Ted Nugent as one of hard rock and heavy metal’s most towering sonic trailblazers. Here now are 40 quotes culled from through the years and all sorts of sources wherein The Nuge sounds off on music and musicians… finally!

1. The First Record Ted Ever Bought
’Walk, Don’t Run’ by the Ventures. I was in the 9-, 10-, 11-year-old bracket.”

2. Who Taught Ted to Play Guitar
“I was into the guitar from an early age and I came to it not long after the giants like Les Paul were around, and then I learned from guitarists like Lonnie Mack, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry. And then the Beatles, The Stones and The Yardbirds came along and then Led Zeppelin—of course I was playing before any of that—but you learn from everyone. But when I was a kid you just did what you did, there were no musical boundaries you just worked things out, and took from what you could.”

3. Jimi Hendrix
“A master craftsman, a pilot of an emotional roller coaster who came the closest to anyone in the history of the guitar to master the unlimited dimensions of the tonal and lyrical capabilities of the instrument.”

4. Stylistic Influences
“Those original, black, spirited, defiant, rebellious musical masters. Chuck Berry was one of the first masters of Les Paul’s new electric guitar; he pretty much laid down the gauntlet, and I don’t think anybody’s ever beat him since. Way before the British Invasion, I was tuned into the black guys that created the British Invasion. Without Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and the Motown hits, there would be no Beatles.”

5. B.B. King
“A spokesman for a generation of blues creationists who established the electric guitar for all of us to feed off. We owe him our heritage.”

6. Keith Richards
“The all-time slop master — the most grunting, groaning soulful blues-oriented guitarist who ever lived. He plays Chuck Berry music so much like Chuck Berry that he should get a Nobel Peace Prize. Keith is probably the single most influential guitarist I’ve ever heard.”

7. Rock Stars
“I don’t wanna be a rock star. I don’t believe in rock stars. If you really examine what goes with being a rock star, I’ve avoided that really well.”

8. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top
My favorite guitar player in the whole world. He’s got more soul than any black guitarist I’ve ever heard; he’s got the definitive lyrical style. The great majority of his licks are real traditional, but he does them with such a style that they just drip — the quintessential stylist.”

9. Gibson Guitars, Part 1
“Gibson has been making the finest electric guitars the world has ever witnessed for over 70 years. They are as American as God, guns and rock and roll.”

10. Eddie Van Halen
“A leader of the pack with as much impact as any individual guitar player who ever lived—an innovator when innovation seemed to be attacked, an inspiration to every guitar player who wants to take the lyrical interpretation of the instrument beyond its confines.”

11. Gibson Guitars, Part 2
“I am the Great White Buffalo and I play an American-made Gibson guitar that can blow your head clean off at 100 paces.”

12. Jack White
“It doesn’t make me want to shake a tail feather. It did not make me want to shimmy. But I’m spoiled because I came up around—and created—the ultimate shimmy music of all time. I’m not hearing a tight groove.”

13. Black Keys
“It grabs me, but not as much as it grabs some of the other people that rave about them. With the Black Keys, I’m missing crescendos with the sax, keyboard or guitar solo. It never comes to me. All my favorite music is rife with crescendo and I’m not hearing enough with them. If you can get the Black Keys to hear this, tell them I offer my crescendo guitar anytime they desire it.”

14. Gibson Guitars, Part 3
“There is no finer sonic-producing weapon for a guitar slayer than a hand crafter Gibson masterpiece.”

15. Red Hot Chili Peppers
”Oh God almighty, another Detroit monster is Chad Smith of the Chili Peppers. Their music is intoxicating between Flea and Chad Smith. They’re contemporary because they’re still making good records, but I don’t think there’s anything new that has a groove and soulfulness. The Chili Peppers just stink of soul—and that’s the ultimate compliment. They continue what James Brown created.”

16. Classic Rock
“I am Classic Rock Revisited. I revisit it every waking moment of my life because it has the spirit and the attitude and the fire and the middle finger.”

17. Angus Young of AC/DC
“If you can separate the energy from the guitar, his guitar playing is one of the most exciting and well constructed for his genre of any of the rock ’n’ roll guitarists.”

18. Kiss and Bruce Springsteen
“A lot of real purist types think that Kiss’s Kabuki, vaudeville, burlesque stuff is counterproductive to the music. No! It’s what it is. It’s great music and if you don’t like the rest of the stuff, go see ZZ Top—which, in its own way, is the same thing! Or, Bruce Springsteen! His whole ‘working class’ thing is as real as the kabuki makeup. God bless Bruce, he’s phenomenal, he’s got one of the best bands in the world, and I love everything about him… mostly (grins). But my point is, some of my die-hard rhythm and blues fans dismiss Kiss, or anything that’s isn’t gung-ho rhythm and blues, grinding rock and roll. But I’ve never subscribed to that. I’m much more open-minded than that.”

19. Unexpected Influences
“I’m aware of Yusef Lateef and Sun Ra and John Coltrane. My music cup runneth over. I try to encourage people: don’t cut anything off, don’t limit yourself. Give it a good listen: you might find something in that goofy Sun Ra noise, that dissonance. Before I learned ‘official musicality’ – which you should avoid at all costs – I listened to some Sun Ra and Yusef Lateef and John Coltrane and that’s where ‘Journey to the Center of the Mind’ came from. When you intentionally and aggressively pursue musical communication with those powerfully impactful musical geniuses, you will pick up something.”

20. Gibson Guitars, Part 4
“Without question Gibson guitars are the finest, most revered guitars on the planet.”

21. Ted’s Desert Island Disc
“James Brown’s Live at the Apollo is not just a musical whiplash, it’s a spiritual cleansing. You can just close your eyes and see him doing the splits, kicking the mic stand and doing a 360.”

22. Ritchie Blackmore
“One of the originals who created his own style and nurtured it and maintained it through all these years and progressed with his style.”

23. The True “Punk Rock” of Little Richard
“I stop and think what they call ’punk rock’ today…give me a break! Let me know when they can walk in the vapor trail of Little Richard, which was punk. You’ve got a gay black guy with a pompadour singing about tutti frutti with your white girl? F–k you!”

24. Sammy Hagar, Guitar Player
“He has soul, plays a lot of traditional licks and hasn’t gone the techno-extreme route. He plays a real palatable guitar style.”

25. Sammy Hagar, Ted’s Friend
“He and I go back to 1974, ’75, and ’76. [His old band] Montrose was opening up for us when we were out west, and everybody revered the Montrose music. Find somebody that doesn’t like ‘Bad Motor Scooter’ and give them some nerve gas or something. He comes from the same black gods of rhythm and musical geniuses as I come from. Montrose, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Journey, Foreigner. All the bands that make great music that moves our lives, they’re all propelled by the black heroes that invented that emotional, authoritative, soulful, grinding, sexy, fiery music. So Sammy and I connected immediately on that level. And I’ve been onstage with Sammy, if not 100 times, then 95. I got onstage with him with Sammy Hagar, Montrose, Van Halen, the Waboritos. It has been a mutual admiration society, I think.”

26. Neal Schon of Journey
“A brilliant guitarist — the best of rock ’n’ roll, jazz, blues and an unknown original stylist. He’s underrated; he’s one of the most dexterous, fluid players around today. He accelerates Journey’s music to the maximum every time. His best work is with Journey.”

27. Modern Rhythm-and-Blues
“Isn’t my music the last of the real rhythm and blues? Isn’t it great? It’s because of my musicians, we were weaned on Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, all the founding fathers, the gods of thunder, who invented the foundation and the pulse of the greatest music in the world!”

28. Pete Townshend
“The ultimate rhythm guitarist. Every time he goes for a lead, I cringe, but every time he hits a chord, I refocus. He invented the power chords.”

29. How to Learn Guitar
“’Jam till ya blow up’ is always the best route. Absorb all things Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Cream, Beck, SRV, EVH, Motown, James Brown, Booker T and the MGs, etc., etc., etc., play along till ya can’t stand it no mo, then jam some more! Feel what these masters are saying and doing, and go for that soulful, emotional, uppity blackness. Smart practice/jamming is the key. Think groove and feel at all times, and find those magic notes that aren’t legal. DO NOT LEARN SCALES! Make up your own. Improvise, adapt, overwhelm. Semitones are sonic sex.”

30. Ace Frehley
“He was always so stoned that I couldn’t decipher a lot of his playing, but the nights he shined, he shined fantastically.”

31. Ted’s Rock-N-Roll Heaven Band
“I’d like to have James Brown as my singer. I already have the best drummer, Tommy Clufetos. I’ve jammed a bunch with John Entwistle, and it was like a musical orgy. That guy is a living, breathing, grunting rhythm. For horns, let’s go with the Stax/Volt guys, and I’m going to have Steve Cropper on standby just in case I want a rhythm guitarist.”

32. Leslie West of Mountain
“A great underrated guitarist who took the Clapton influence to its definitive end. The master of tone, the master of impact of a given note and an innovator of tones and feedback.”

33. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick
“The most fun guitarist in America. Very underrated, and he’s got a great sensibility.”

34. Mick Jones of Foreigner
“The ’Hot Blooded’ guitar solo is the nastiest, most emotive guitar solo of all time. He is not really technically proficient but on occasion shows great sensibility in his playing.”

35. The Death of MC5 Bassist Michael Davis
“The MC5 were such a powerful musical/spirit force to reckon with, and so very influential to all who witnessed their might, that it is a sad day when half of their incredible rhythm section is gone. Michael was a dedicated musician and a good man. In our Motor City musical wind, he will always be alive and kickin’ out the jams.”

36. Where Songs Come From
“I don’t care if it’s Bruno Mars or Aerosmith or ZZ Top… it’s about songs. ’Paperback Writer,’ ’Satisfaction,’ ’Cat Scratch Fever,’ ’Walk This Way,’ all the killer songs in the world start with an identifiable guitar pattern that is basically a bastardization of either honky-tonk or boogie-woogie. And that’s in every cool piece of music in the world that you and I love.”

37. Tom Morello
“Tom Morello claims to be an ultra-liberal. But let’s examine Tom Morello’s life, shall we? He works really hard. He gets up early. He puts his heart and soul into being the best craftsman he can be. Provides for and protects his family. He’s true to his family. So far, he sounds an awful lot like Ted Nugent. We talk politics, and we should do it on film sometime, it’s quite telling. My point being: Tom Morello, I love him dearly, I respect his musical genius, and I respect him as a man. And when it gets time to have a legitimate political debate, we remain civil and gentlemanly, and eventually we can both shut up and jam because we both come from the Chuck Berry school of uppity, spirited, freedom-drenched American rhythm-and-blues.”

38. On Being Voted by M!Live as “Best Guitarist Ever to Come Out of Detroit”
“I stand humbled on bended knee but, of course, the response to that would be ’Duh!’ And to be given that incredible honor means that I represent the piss and vinegar, the energy, the defiance, the musicality of the Funk Brothers and Motown and Mitch Ryder and Bob Seger, Brownsville Station and Grand Funk Railroad and Eminem and Jack White and Kid Rock — are you kidding me?”

39. Dave Grohl
“I like Dave Grohl, I guess he’s a little newer. It makes you shake, it’s uppity and spirited.”

40. Ted Nugent, Guitar Player
“An uninhibited, Chuck Berry devotee but experimented with and broke a lot of ground on feedback techniques and solid variations in tonal and dissonant utilizations. I’m one of the best guitarists in the world, and I play with great emotion.”

Mike McPadden is the author of the book "HEAVY METAL MOVIES: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, and Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big Scream Films Ever!" (Bazillion Points, 2014).