Totally True Memoirs of a Metal Producer: Ted Nugent’s Ted Nugent
My gambling habits have gotten me into trouble more than once in my life… but all the gold records on my wall have always gotten me out again. Is it sad that sometimes other people get hurt in the process of me saving my own ass? Absolutely. Do I do it anyway? You bet your ass, kiddo.
Long story short: in 1975, I ended up owing about ten grand to a con artist in Newark. Real rookie mistake. But he said he’d forgive my debt if I produced his record. I told him I’d just pay him the money. Then he blocked the door and said if I didn’t produce his record, he’d shit himself. I was about to ask why he’d do that when he did it. It smelled terrible; I thought the kid probably needed to go the doctor and get checked out. I finally agreed to produce the album just so he’d get away from the door and let me leave.
This schmuck’s name was Ted Nuzycz. Today you know him as Ted Nugent.
I’ll give Ted this: he was mercenary. Changing his name wasn’t the only thing he did to sell records. When I got to the studio, he didn’t have a band, and he didn’t have any songs written, and he didn’t know how to play guitar, either.
I asked him how he expected to make a record and he said he expected me to do it for him. He said his grandfather had taught him you can always make money selling to the yokels in middle America, and he gave me a list of lyrical topics he wanted covered for the record, and he told me to make sure the music was “catchy but not too smart.”
Was I outraged? Naturally! I told him this was more than $10K’s worth of work he was asking for and I wouldn’t do it.
He shat himself again.
This time the smell was so rancid I was positive he had colon cancer. I told him I’d take care of it and to come back in a month.
I hired these guys Derek St. Holmes and Rob Grange, who were both actually from the part of the country Ted was going to tell people he was from, to lend the project authenticity, and a British drummer, Cliff Davies, because I knew it would make Ted mad since it violated his whole “middle America common man” schtick.
I farmed out most of the lead guitar work to the Hawkins brothers from Black Merda, which I think is why Ted thinks it’s okay to appropriate black culture AND give the appearance of being racist (in case you’re wondering, Ted was not, in my experience, racist, but he knew that saying racist things would get him attention and earn loyalty from certain kinds of fans).
We wrote and recorded the whole record in a couple of weeks, because I wanted Ted out of my life as quickly as possible. Per Ted’s instructions, I wrote lyrics about rock n’ roll (“Just What the Doctor Ordered”), being from Detroit (“Motor City Madhouse”), getting tail (“Where Have You Been All My Life”), tail being a drag (”Queen of the Forest”), getting tail to leave (“Hey Baby”), “making fun of fuckers with fancy book-learning” (“Snakeskin Cowboys”), and Nazis (“Stormtroopin’”). I don’t know what “Stranglehold” is about but I knew Ted would approve because it vaguely implies violence towards women. But you’ll notice that these are the same lyrical themes Ted uses to this day.
We were about done when Ted showed up at the studio and said he’d written a song and he wanted it on the album. Because he didn’t play an instrument, “written a song” meant “written a poem” with a melody he had to hum to us. It ended up being this real rinky-dink piece of drek called “You Make Me Feel Right At Home.” It wasn’t good and I told Ted that but he said if we didn’t record it he’d shit himself and I was about to tell him fine we’d record it when he shat himself. The smell was so foul it gave St. Holmes PTSD.
So now you know why one song on the album is dogshit.
Speaking of dogshit, I went into the bathroom during a break from recording that song and Ted was in there changing his underpants. Ted naked from the waist-down remains the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen; he’s completely smooth. I don’t mean like he waxed the hair on his schmeckel. He’s like a Ken Doll down there. I’ve seen some strange things in my life, but that may take the cake.
Anyway the album got to number 28 on the charts and went platinum twice. It’s actually pretty good. And I never did have to see Ted Nuzycz again.