Ted Nugent has flaws, but I’ve yet to find any man who doesn’t. In recent years he has been demonized repeatedly for his conservative political views, and those who disagree with his stances have painted him as a racist, a draft dodger, and even a pedophile. In my research only the draft dodger claim is close to accurate, but there are also plenty of positive things about Nugent that don’t get reported.

Short Version
  • aka The Nuge, Motor City Madman, Uncle Ted
  • Age 65
  • Over 30 albums released, over 300 million sold
  • Has performed more than 6,500 concerts
  • Deputy sheriff for over 30 years
  • NRA board of directors member
  • Bow hunter extraordinaire, conservationist
  • Militantly anti-alcohol and anti-drug

What I see in Nugent is a regular guy who refuses to stop moving, doing, and making as long as he’s breathing. He’s got a foul mouth, but he loves people. He gets really angry and passionate about certain issues. Don’t we all? He’s a rugged individualist, a pure conservationist, who fights for gun rights but would rather bow hunt, who prefers to kill and prepare his own meat rather than rely on the long series of manufacturing and marketing steps necessary to put lower-quality meat in the grocery store. Love him or hate him, Ted Nugent is a man’s man.

Why He’s a Fuel’d Guy

Nugent loves life, and he pursues it purposefully and passionately. He wants to squeeze every last drop out of life and leave behind a better place than he found. Whether or not you agree with him on contentious issues doesn’t alter these basic and fundamental characteristics of who he is, just as modern conservatives certainly don’t want any part of Teddy Roosevelt’s political philosophy but would never deny his overt and rugged masculinity and his thirst for life.

Fuel’d means full of fuel, ready to go, driven, stocked up with what it takes to go a distance. Nugent has been going and going and going since the 1960s, and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. In his early rock days he went years on end playing sometimes over 300 shows in a year. He’s been a strong advocate for staying clean and sober and has never been into alcohol or drugs, even in the late-sixties and early-seventies rock scene. He had his wild early days as most of us have, and he’s still a little more than a handful at age 65. He’s unafraid, unwavering, and smart.

Wango Tango

Amboy DukesThe guitar hero’s career started when he was still in high school and formed the Amboy Dukes in late 1965 and they became regulars at a local club. From 1967 to 1973, the Amboy Dukes put out 5 albums and toured over 300 days each year. In 1974 there were two albums released. Over the course of the band’s career Nugent was the only stalwart, with fifteen other musicians moving in and out of the other slots. In 1975 Nugent officially went solo.

Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of most of Ted Nugent’s songs, but that’s only personal preference. As a music lover I can enjoy his stuff and appreciate it. He’s a brilliant guitar player and has fun doing it. He’s the definition of a rocker, without the booze and drugs. That’s probably why at 65 he still looks spry and energized on stage, unlike many artists still going at his age. He’s also still cranking out albums packed with full-throttle rock and roll. Last year he played his 6,500th concert. If those were performed back to back it would be just under 18 years of nightly shows.

Ted Nugent should undoubtedly be in the rock and roll hall of fame, but that probably won’t happen for political reasons. The hall of fame was started by the owners of Rolling Stone magazine, and they are among the top donors to anti-gun crusades. Nugent being on the board of directors for the NRA doesn’t sit so well with them.

Walt Whitman-esque

It occurs to me that if you were to stereotype The Nuge by comparison to a historical figure, Walt Whitman might fit the bill. Both expressed their natural ideas through common, boisterous, and rough language, and both are considered artists for it. Both hailed the embracing of nature and our relationship to it as necessary for a full life. Both hunted and killed their own food by choice.

From Whitman’s “Song of Myself”:

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-killed game,
Falling asleep on the gathered leaves with my dog and gun by my side.

Charity Work And Conservation

Hunters For the HungryTed and his wife, Shemane, are very involved with charities and have started at least two of their own. Ted has been working with other hunters since 1988 to provide meals to the hungry in our country through organizations like Hunters for the Hungry. Every year they give out 250 million meals of venison that they have killed and prepared themselves. When attacked by animal rights activists, Nugent is quick to point out that there are more deer in North America, and the world for that matter, today than at any other point in recorded history.

Shemane Nugent was moved to start Freedom’s Angels, a charity supporting military members and their families, after Ted played an acoustic set for about 50 amputees and burn victims at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the burn victims were completely covered except for eyes because they could not be exposed to direct sunlight due to their injuries, which made going outside quite an ordeal. Shemane told the mothers of the victims who were there that she would raise money to build a shielded patio for them, and the charity was born.

In 1988, Ted got to meet legendary bow hunter and bowyer Fred Bear, and during their time Bear inspired Nugent to ignore critics and always try to do more. The next year, in 1989, Nugent started the Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids children’s charity, an organization that teach children, in Ted’s own words, “archery, bowhunting, hunter education, firearm’s safety and marksmanship, trapping, fishing, conservation, animal husbandry, slingshot marksmanship, spear chucking, woodsman-ship, wood crafting, wilderness survival, flint napping, wildlife education, skinning, gutting, butchering and a strong sense of militant anti-substance abuse and how being the best you can be, clean and sober, is the only way to The American Dream.”

Nugent considers himself, and other hunters, fishermen, and trappers, to be the ultimate conservationists. He claims to have planted over 100,000 trees with his own two hands, and boasts of “as perfect biodiversity as any chunk of ground could possibly produce” on his sprawling Michigan ranch. In an interview with Salon, he recounted meeting Julia Butterfly Hill – the young woman who spent a year in a tree to raise awareness for conservation – on the show “Politically Incorrect”, and pointed out that while he admired her guts, the children at his camps had planted over 50,000 trees during the time she was tree-sitting. He believes that hands-on conservation beats out talk every time.

Personal Life

Nugent has been married twice and has fathered eight children over his 65 years, and while his lovelife is one more typical of a rock star than most of his other activities, he has been married to Shemane for 25 years now. They have a ranch in Texas as well as in Michigan. Nugent has been a sheriff’s deputy in Lake County, Michigan, since 1982, and also conducts Federal arrest raids with the US Marshal Fugitive Felony Task Force in Texas. He has authored 4 books, including a NYT best-seller, and writes for multiple publications on a fairly regular basis.

Regarding the horrible accusations that have been repeatedly thrown at him, I researched them as much as I could from multiple angles. The results of my research led me to believe that he did in fact dodge the draft for the Vietnam war on purpose, although that wasn’t exactly an uncommon activity at the time. The other charges leveled against him didn’t stand up under scrutiny, at best being wild exaggerations of actual events and at worst being complete fabrications. I stick to my assessment: Ted Nugent is definitely a Fuel’d guy.

Motor City Madman checklist:
  • God, Guns, & Rock and Roll (2000) was a New York Times best seller
  • Nugent and Hunters for the Hungry just delivered meals to the border to help with the crisis
  • Joe Perry of Aerosmith calls him “good old Uncle Ted”
  • To reiterate: there are more deer in the U.S. today than at any previous time in recorded history
  • Got you in a stranglehold, baby



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About The Author

Wally Peterson

Wally Peterson is a writer and aspiring beach bum living sixty seconds from the sand in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. He has a face made for blogging and his idea of fashion is wearing socks.

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