Ted Nugent Biography

Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist (1948–)
Ted Nugent fronted the band Amboy Dukes in the 1970s. He has produced solo work since 1975, including the successful album 'Cat Scratch Fever.'

Who Is Ted Nugent?

Born on December 13, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan, Ted Nugent began playing music when he was 6 years old. His band, Amboy Dukes, signed with Mainstream Records after he graduated from high school. They performed extensively and earned a No. 8 hit on the pop charts. Nugent released his first solo album, Ted Nugent, featuring the hit singles "Stranglehold" and "Hey Baby," in 1975. Two years later, he recorded his most successful album to date: Cat Scratch Fever. Eventually selling more than 3 million copies, the LP included the now-classic rock anthems "Cat Scratch Fever," "Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard," and "Out of Control." In recent years, Nugent has gained attention for his political commentary and conservative ideologies.

Early Career

Theodore Anthony Nugent was born on December 13, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan. Although he would take formal guitar lessons later in life, Ted Nugent was largely a self-taught musician. He began playing guitar at the age of 6, and by age 14, he had formed his first band, the Lourds. On the strength of their 1964 performance at the Michigan State Fair, the Lourds were given the opportunity to open for the Beau Brummels and the Supremes. Later that year, Nugent moved to Chicago, where he fronted the band the Amboy Dukes.

Amboy Dukes

Upon his high school graduation, in 1967, Nugent returned to Detroit, where he began recruiting new members for the Amboy Dukes. Within three months, the band signed with Mainstream Records and released their self-titled debut album. The following year, they achieved national recognition with the single "Journey to the Center of the Mind," which reached No. 8 on the pop charts.

In the early 1970s, the Amboy Dukes continued to record while averaging more than 300 concert dates per year. With the aid of props, wardrobe, pyrotechnics and live animals, their concerts approached operatic dimensions. Nugent's popularity, coupled with his expanding stage presence, surpassed that of his fellow band members. The Amboy Dukes were soon renamed Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes.

Solo Career

By 1975, Nugent had disassociated himself with the Amboy Dukes and decided to pursue a solo career. Now recording with the Epic Records label, he released his first solo album, Ted Nugent, featuring the hit singles "Stranglehold" and "Hey Baby." In 1977, Nugent recorded his most successful album to date: Cat Scratch Fever. Eventually selling more than 3 million copies, the LP included the now-classic rock anthems "Cat Scratch Fever," "Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard," and "Out of Control."

In the early 1980s, Nugent’s popularity began to dwindle. He retreated from the spotlight for a few years before releasing two relatively successful albums, Penetrator (1984) and Little Miss Dangerous (1986). In 1989, he joined forces with rock veterans Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades to form the heavy metal band Damn Yankees.

Political Views

An avid hunter and political activist, Nugent's outspoken commitments to gun ownership and right-wing politics took a toll on his success in the 1990s. In 1995, he resumed his solo career with the critically panned album Spirit of the Wild, in which he expressed his deeply held political views, as well as his unique relationship with nature and hunting.

In the summer of 2000, Nugent opened 79 sold-out concerts on the KISS Farewell Tour. That same year, he published a book of essays titled God, Guns and Rock-N-Roll.

Nugent made headlines for his gun-rights advocacy in December 2012, after publicly attacking sportscaster Bob Costas for proclaiming a need for greater gun control in the United States. Costas had publicly discussed the topic during a football game, following a murder-suicide carried out by a former player. Via Twitter, Nugent disparaged the broadcaster's comments and vehemently proclaimed his support for gun ownership, writing, "We thought Bob Costas was smarter than that. Only fools blame tools instead of human failings. Shame Bob."

After Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise was shot while playing baseball with his colleagues in June 2017, Nugent promised he would tone down the "hateful rhetoric" and foster more civil dialogue to show people can disagree without becoming violent. 

However, the outspoken rocker was back at it again in the wake of the February 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. After several students seized the spotlight by demanding gun-control measures, Nugent appeared on a radio program to slam "these poor, mushy-brained children who have been fed lies and parrot lies," adding that they were "soulless" to attack law-abiding Second Amendment advocates.

Throughout his career, Nugent has served on the boards of more than two dozen political and charitable associations, including the National Rifle Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!