Enlarge Tom Morello photo credit: Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons. Ted Nugent photo credit: Unknown via Pxhere.com

Tom Morello Explains His Unlikely Friendship with Ted Nugent


If you know anything about Tom Morello and Ted Nugent other than their music, it’s that one is a bleeding heart liberal and the other a steadfast conservative. Both artists’ political stances have become as much a part of their public identity as their music, perhaps even more so.

The last thing you’d expect, then, is a friendship between two outspoken rockers at complete opposite ends of the political spectrum. But according to Morello, the two have developed a solid rapport with one another over the years, born of a shared set of ideals (albeit limited ones) and respect for one another’s music.

On a recent episode of The Howard Stern Show, the Rage Against the Machine guitarist relayed the story of how the two became closer through a video Morello was asked to make for Ted’s 60th birthday (in 2008). It’s not clear if that was the very first time the two interacted, but Morello revealed he respects some of Nugent’s values nonetheless, and even credits the Nuge with introducing an adolescent Tom to sex.

He explained:

“You might be surprised that Ted Nugent and I are good friends. For his 60th birthday, someone reached out to me and said, ‘We’re making a video, and we’re asking guitar players – would you make a video [for Ted]?’

“At the time, the Ted Nugent was sort of known in the world in general as this kind of more right-wing caricature – people were not thinking of him, first and foremost, as the guy who shredded on ‘Stranglehold.’

“But then I had to think, ‘What is the video that I’m going to make for Ted’s birthday?’ And I put some thought into it, and I said, ‘It’s gonna be about two things. One, it’s gonna be things that Tom Morello and Ted Nugent have in common.’

“And I went down this long list of, like, free-speech advocates, our love of rock ‘n’ roll, our respect for black artists who created rock ‘n’ roll…

“And then the second was things that Ted Nugent taught an adolescent Tom Morello about sex.

“And then I went through ‘Cat Scratch Fever,’ like, these strange words – the lyrics to the song ‘Cat Scratch Fever,’ the lyrics to the song ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,’ which were utterly foreign to me.

“And I had to ask about it on the playground. Anyway, so Ted called me up after that. And while we certainly have differences, I consider him a friend.”

I can’t imagine Morello supports any of Ted’s recent pro-Trump, racist ramblings, but at least you can’t say of Tom that he’s not accepting of viewpoints that differ from his own. Or something, I guess.

Thanks to Ultimate Guitar for the transcription.

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