30 Minutes with Ted Nugent

In honor of Ted Nugent's role as one of the outspoken members of VH1's volatile Supergroup , I dug around in the S&V archives and found this interview I conducted with the Motor City Madman exactly 5 years ago on June 14, 2001. That day, Ted and I spoke a few hours before he headed out to perform at the Jones Beach Ampitheater (as it was known then) in Wantagh, New York, to, as he put it, "scare all of the white people on Long Island." (A shorter version of this chat appeared in the September 2001 issue.)

I read somewhere that at one of your concerts, you and your brother were scoping out the crowd, saw some people with some bootlegging equipment, and... Mikey, Mikey, Mikey... that was back in '76. [laughs] That was mentioned in a special piece I did for the Wall Street Journal. It was part of our ongoing modus operandi - our little rock & roll Navy Seal commando raids before concerts. How dare somebody else benefit from my name!

The correlation I was making was with Napster and downloading, something I know you're such a big fan of... Sure. [sarcastically] I'm a big fan of thievery. Anybody who can pilfer and vandalize and shoplift - I'm a big fan of all of that.

I'm not a very bright guy, but I at least have a radar that not much can fly under and nothing can fly over. My thing is, if you've got a product in your right hand, do you have a receipt for it in your left hand? And if you don't, you stole it.

The example I use is, if you go to a restaurant, have a great meal, and then leave without paying for it, what's the difference between that and downloading copyrighted music for free? Hello! And if the restaurant wants to give it to you, that's the individual restaurateur's decision, not the restaurant industry's.

You know, I'm a really, really, really lucky SOB, Mike. I get to not only travel this great country and pursue every dream career I could ever pull out of my ass, but I get stopped on the street by accountants, cops, teachers, bagel-shop owners, hot-dog guys, politicians, and little ladies with twins in strollers, and you know what I see? I see common sense. I'm not guessing at this stuff. What I really represent when I open my stupid mouth is the truth. Sometimes I'm the French tickler of truth, but nonetheless...

As somebody once said, a lot of people can't handle the truth. That's right, bubie. My critics are my favorite people - they absolutely make me look so good. I could hire the world's greatest screenwriter and actor and couldn't create a bigger foil than the average squawker who calls in to complain about me.