Found in Pluto
Best remembered for their 1968 acid rock classic "Journey to the Center of the Mind," Detroit's Amboy Dukes also introduced the world to the Motor City Madman, guitarist Ted Nugent. The group's roots date to 1965, a period when a teenage Nugent was living in Chicago; there he formed the first incarnation of the Amboy Dukes, borrowing the moniker from a recently disbanded Detroit band who themselves took the name from an infamous exploitation novel of the period. When Nugent returned to Southeastern Michigan in 1967, he assembled a new Dukes lineup including vocalist John Drake, his former bandmate in the Lourds, as well as rhythm guitarist Steve Farmer, bassist Bill White, keyboardist Rick Lober, and drummer Dave Palmer. Famed for its snarling closer, an incendiary cover of Them's "Baby Please Don't Go," the group emerged as one of the hottest attractions on the Detroit club circuit.
Journey to the Center of the Mind Still, when the Amboy Dukes' self-titled debut LP appeared on the Mainstream label in 1967, it was the group's originals that became the focus -- while Nugent handled the music, Farmer penned the drug-fixated lyrics, adding a psychedelic sensibility to an otherwise proto-metal sound. After a series of lineup shifts that saw White and Lober exit in favor of bassist Greg Arama and keyboardist Andy Solomon, in 1968 the Dukes issued Journey to the Center of the Mind, riding the title track into the U.S. Top 20. Vocalist Rusty Day replaced Drake in time for 1969's Migration, which failed to equal the success of its predecessor; Marriage on the Rocks, issued later that same year, was also a disappointment, and after 1971's Survival of the Fittest Nugent dismissed Day and Solomon after Palmer left the group to accept an engineering gig. After recording a handful of albums as Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes, he finally dropped the group's name altogether and mounted a solo career.
Throughout his lengthy career, guitar wildman Ted Nugent has reveled in the controversy and criticism that always seems to follow in his path. While there's no denying his exceptional talent on the six-string, his knack for penning arena rock anthems, or his standing as one of rock's top live acts, it's his non-musical endeavors that have caused the most condemnation from his detractors (his pro-right wing beliefs, pro-gun advocacy, appreciation of hunting animals, etc.). But by the same token, Nugent is a family man and one of the few hard rockers who has admirably stuck by his lifelong anti-drugs and -drink stance throughout his career.
Journey to the Center of the Mind Born on December 13, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan, Nugent became interested in rock & roll early in the game, picking up the guitar as a youngster, while his disciplinarian father passed his beliefs down to Nugent. In the '60s, Nugent formed his first bands (including Royal High Boys and Lourdes), drawing inspiration from such British blues-rockers as the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. But it wasn't until the formation of the Amboy Dukes that the Nuge got his first taste of stardom (it was also around this time that Nugent began playing a Gibson Byrdland guitar, a model that would be instantly associated with him throughout his career).
The other members of the group didn't exactly share Nugent's clean-living lifestyle, as proven by their psychedelic hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind," which Nugent claimed he didn't know at the time was about being "under the influence." The band managed to issue several albums throughout the late '60s -- 1967's self-titled debut, 1968's Journey to the Center of the Mind, and 1969's Migration -- as the group fit in well with other high-energy rock bands that emerged from the Motor City, the MC5 and the Stooges in particular.
Call of the Wild With bandmembers coming and going at an alarming rate, Nugent remained the only constant member -- eventually officially changing the band's name to Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes by the '70s, and issuing 1971's Survival of the Fittest, 1973's Call of the Wild, and 1974's Tooth, Fang & Claw. While none of these releases exactly stormed the charts, Nugent and his cohorts remained an in-demand concert draw, as he also set up "guitar duels" on-stage around this time (battling with MC5's Wayne Kramer and Mahogany Rush's Frank Marino, among others).
Free-for-All By the mid-'70s, Nugent decided to finally ditch the Amboy Dukes name and set out on his own, assembling a first-rate backing band that included second guitarist/vocalist Derek St. Holmes, bassist Rob Grange, and drummer Cliff Davies. By 1975, the new band was signed to Aerosmith's management company (Leber & Krebs), as well as the same record company, Columbia, resulting in the release of Nugent's self-titled debut in November of the same year. The band immediately struck a chord with the heavy metal/hard rock crowd from coast to coast, due to the band's over the top stage show. But the bandmembers' relationship with Nugent was rocky at best -- Nugent wanted complete control of the band, while the others wanted it to be more of a democracy. The end result was St. Holmes leaving the band prior to the sessions of their sophomore effort, 1976's Free-for-All (which saw a then-unknown singer by the name of Meat Loaf filling in for the departed singer).
Cat Scratch FeverSt. Holmes returned, however, in time for the album's ensuing tour, and by the release of 1977's Cat Scratch Fever (which spawned the hit single title track), Nugent and company were one of the top rock bands in the U.S. -- storming the charts and selling out arenas coast to coast. By now, Nugent had assumed the stage persona of a caveman -- hitting the stage dressed in nothing but a skimpy loincloth and knee-high boots, and would often begin his show by swinging out on a rope à la Tarzan (!). Like other rock acts of the '70s (Kiss, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, etc.), Nugent used a live album -- 1978's classic Double Live Gonzo! -- to catapult his career to the next level of stardom. But despite all the success, the members of his band began deserting him one by one over the course of such albums as 1978's Weekend Warriors, 1979's State of Shock, and 1980's Scream Dream. To add insult to injury, Nugent found himself bankrupt around this time, due to several failed business ventures and poor management.
Spirit of the WildNugent returned to his solo career, issuing his best album in over a decade, 1995's back-to-basics Spirit of the Wild, while several archival releases turned up throughout the '90s: 1993's three-disc box set Out of Control, 1997's Live at Hammersmith '79, as well as his first three albums reissued with added tracks and newly remastered sound in 1999 by the Epic/Legacy label (also issued at the same time was the first truly comprehensive compilation of the Amboy Dukes, the 18-track Loaded for Bear).
In addition to music, Nugent has gotten involved in politics, hosting a number one morning radio show in Detroit; has run his own hunting camp and issues instructional videotapes (as well as the Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild PBS video series); owns his own hunting supply store; has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association; writes columns regularly for a number of different magazines; and even sells his very own beef jerky (called Gonzo Meat Biltong)!
KBFH "King Biscuit Flower Hour"
Radio FM January 22, 1977
San Antonio, Texas
02. Just What the Doctor Ordered
03. Free For All
04. Snakeskin Cowboys
05. Cat Scratch Fever
06. Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
07. A Thousand Knives (Very Rare)
08. Dog Eat Dog
01. Hey Baby
02. Great White Buffalo
03. Guitar Solo
05. Motor City Madhouse
Part 1: TN1
Part 2: TN2
Part 1: TN1
Part 2: TN2
Part 1: TN1
Part 2: TN2