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Q&A: Nugent ready to 'jam on' at McHenry County Fair

Ted Nugent performs during the Sonic Baptizm Tour at Atlanta Symphony Hall on Sunday, July 24, 2016, in Atlanta.
Ted Nugent performs during the Sonic Baptizm Tour at Atlanta Symphony Hall on Sunday, July 24, 2016, in Atlanta.

WOODSTOCK – It’s McHenry County Fair time and this year’s music stage is going to rock a little harder.

“The Nuge,” “Motor City Madman,” “Uncle Ted” himself, Ted Nugent, will take the stage Saturday night as part of his “The Music Made Me Do It, Again!” tour. The outspoken rocker will take the grandstand stage Saturday night following the electric violin quartet Femmes of Rock.

As of Tuesday morning, only a few tickets remain available for the show in the party pit.

The Northwest Herald had some questions for “Uncle Ted” ahead of his performance.

Weber: You graduated from St. Viator. What did you enjoy about growing up in the area and what was your experience like at an all-boys school Catholic school and how did you come out of it as a rock ’n’ roller? 

Nugent: I barely remember anything about high school as I was so completely dedicated to the music adventure of my Amboy Dukes. I created the amazing Amboy Dukes band in 1965 with fellow gung-ho musical maniacs Gary Hicks, Bob Lehnert, Dick Treat and Gale Uptadale in the Arlington Heights area and the daily rehearsals owned our souls to such a degree that everything else was almost nonexistent. We jammed every day and jammed every night, and jammed all weekend, every weekend. It was musical heaven on earth. My memory bank runneth over with stunning memories of killer music, unleashed energy, dedicated musicians, fellow music lovers going crazy and the origins of American garage band rock ’n’ roll. I get all misty-eyed with the powerful fun memories that, thank God, I continue to celebrate to this day.

Weber: The McHenry County Fair is quite the family affair for attendees and, after it was announced that you would be headlining, the McHenry County Fair Association saw the biggest one-day sale of tickets in the history of the event. How do you feel about the controversy over your upcoming performance for those who think your music and persona are not appropriate for such a family friendly event?

Nugent: No surprises here, huh?! Good, honest people know that me and my band are the ultimate positive music, energy and entertainment for families and only dishonest, feeble haters think otherwise. We have the best families in the land at all our shows, including military heroes, law enforcement and their families, and many children’s charities, including special needs kids and even special requests from terminally ill children and their families. But, musically, we unleash the mighty beast and they all love it! 

Weber: The Aug. 3 performance is part of your “The Music Made Me Do It, Again” tour. What did the music make you do and is the tour name a tease to what might be a follow-up album? 

Nugent: The tour name is based on the title of my recent 2018 killer album celebrating the high-energy spirit of our founding fathers Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown and all the ultimate musical authorities that made me pursue my musical dreams 60-plus years ago. It was perfect then and it remains perfect today. Me and my killer band, Greg Smith and Jason Hartless, love it more now than ever.

Weber: You’ve come up against a lot of controversy over your career, but have never had a problem with voicing your opinion. Some artists use their music as a tool to say what they can’t. How has music been a “tool” to your voice?  

Nugent: My musical dreams have always been pure, full-on, raw, uninhibited stream of primal scream consciousness straight from the gut, and I know it represents the truth, logic, commonsense and outrageous fun that all great music lovers celebrate and believe in. My songs are the ferocious animal soul music soundtrack of freedom, attitude, liberty, spirit and all-American defiance of all things status quo. My music obliterates political correctness and everything stupid in this world.

Weber: What is the best myth about you that you’ve heard?  

Nugent: That I made a $10 million bid to buy Muzak – so I could shut it down! 

Weber: What would 70-year-old Ted Nugent tell 20-year-old Ted Nugent? 

Nugent: The very same thing the 20-year-old Ted lived by! Jam on, son! Jam on! Smart, dedicated practice/jamming to American R&B and soul music is the key. A clean and sober life is the only real life. Think groove and feel at all times and find those magic notes that aren’t legal. DO NOT LEARN SCALES! Make up your own. Surround yourself with dedicated, professional, positive people. Improvise, adapt, overcome and unleash the beast every day.

Weber: What do you feel the state of rock ’n’ roll is today, and how do you fit into it?  

Nugent: With the heartbreaking death of the music industry, except for mostly soulless pop crap, there is a sad abandonment of fiery guitar-driven songs and the heretofore historical always stimulating guitar solo crescendos are basically gone in most music today. We have a tragic “de-souling” of the killer, powerful, sexy, emotional music we were raised on and so loved. Thank God for my new album, “The Music Made Me Do It,” where me and my boys unleash the throttling all-American R&B rock ’n’ roll timeless guitar master soundtrack for today. Fear not, real music lovers, your old Uncle Ted is here for you.

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