Why Ted Nugent Is Calling It Quits on Touring
Ted Nugent is saying farewell with his current Adios Mofo tour dates. But as one might expect, this isn't truly goodbye. He plans to continue to make music. As he detailed during an exclusive interview with UCR, Nugent also has other projects brewing, including two books.
His farewell tour began earlier this month in Florida, with Nugent offering a set list full of fan favorites along with additional catalog standards. He even tossed in some of his favorite songs, like Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." A bit of ZZ Top's "Francine" was also tucked inside his own "Stormtroopin'."
We caught up with Ted to talk about this final run and what's ahead.
What was opening night on this current Adios Mofo run like?
Well, first of all, it’s opening night 65 years later, right? My opening night was 65 years ago. Every gig is the most important gig. I mean, when I [played] Marilyn McMillan’s 14th birthday party in Detroit, in Rosedale Park in 1959, I played “Perfidia” and “Walk Don’t Run.” That was the most important gig of my life! Now, all of these years later, last night was my 6,890th rock-out. I count all of them, you know when I play the national anthem for the military and their families. When I jump up on stage and jam with people, they all qualify as a rock-out. When you have the caliber of musicians at your side that I’ve always been blessed with – right now, Johnny Schoen from Texas on bass and vocals and Jason Hartless from Detroit on thunder-drums, every musician that has been at my side have been world-class musical forces.
Last night was awesome. I played 4% of my favorite songs. [Laughs] I could be up there for 11 days and never run out of Ted Nugent killer songs to play. It’s out of body. I mean, my feet just don’t touch the ground. The audiences are so intense. They hang on every note and every word, every musical passage. Jason, Johnny and I, we always really, really focus maniacally on the groove, the dynamics and the musical movements – the adventure element. We played for two hours and it was a dream.
It seems like there'd be a lot of gravitas when it comes to putting together a set list for a farewell tour.
I’m a raw, primal guy. I’m so spontaneous. I’m the only musician that’s ever used the term “martial arts.” My music is like a martial art and my songs are like a samurai training exercise. The training has been going on so long that I really have it down. My hands and feet know exactly where to go. I’m so possessed by the music that you see all of these wonderful photos of me and it looks like I’m grimacing and leaping about – because how can you not, when you’re playing these licks?
When you’re playing the opening to “Paralyzed” or “Stormtroopin’” – or we open up with “Gonzo,” what a perfect opening pattern. Get the fuck out of here! I mean, that’s how you say, “Here I am! Here we are!” When I put a set list together, I would never forgive myself if I didn’t play “Stranglehold.” Okay, so that’s got to be there. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t play “Cat Scratch Fever.” I would never not allow me to experience “Great White Buffalo,” so that’s gotta be there. It’s all about licks, isn’t it? Your favorite rock 'n' roll songs, don’t all of them begin with a killer guitar riff?
I think they do. You know, there’s some great keyboard moments. Billy Joel’s got some classic things that start with keyboard and Elton John does. Some songs start with a strum. I mean, AC/DC has killer chord patterns. But don’t you like [the Beatles’] “Paperback Writer,” [the Rolling Stones’] “Satisfaction, [Aerosmith’s] “Walk This Way,” “Cat Scratch Fever” and [Deep Purple’s] “Smoke on the Water?” Don’t you like those guitar patterns that establish a rhythm and a groove and a signature? All of my songs do. All of them.
The Eagles announced a farewell tour that’s going to run through 2025 most likely. Your farewell tour dates run through August. Will there be more shows added?
You know, No. 1, I’m always going to play. I play my guitar every day. I love that shit. I’m a fighter. I still am really energized. I’m in good shape, I still have fire-breathing passion for my life, liberty and gonzo happiness. So I’ll always play, but I will never do an organized tour. I’m at my condo in Naples right now. So I can hub from here to do all of the Florida dates. When I get to Michigan next week, I can hub out of my cabin there with my dogs. I have to do a couple of hotels – and hotels are jail. I have such an exciting outdoor [life] farming, ranching, hunting, fishing, trapping, dog training, planting trees. I’m hands on. So God bless the Eagles, that’s quite an endeavor. But when you make a couple of million bucks a night, you can do that.
My life revolves around my wife, my kids, my grandkids and my dogs. My dogs right now are heartbroken, because Daddy’s gone. That may sound trivial to some people, but I have an unhealthy attachment to my dogs. I love my fuckin’ dogs. So I will never leave home to do a tour now. I can do gigs, if I can hub out of my Michigan cabin, which could include Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan – and maybe eventually, Ontario again. But I’m never going to go on another “tour” tour. This really is the last tour. It will be 6,891 tonight in Orlando and I love it, but I miss my dogs and I miss being able to walk out the door and do my outdoor stuff. I’m an Earthly guy, which I think is the real power of my music. My music is earthly. Whether it’s sexually earthly, or emotionally earthly or just downright defiantly earthly. This is not a Kiss 26-year last tour. [Laughs] This is the last tour.
The current press materials reference "The Book." Are you working on a memoir?
Yes, my son Rocco, who is just a genius, he’s on the road with me. Rocco Winchester Nugent and I are collaborating. You know, I’ve written three New York Times bestsellers, and I wrote ‘em. I mean, I sat down and wrote the motherfuckers, man. It’s quite a chore. Holy shit. You’ve got to sit down for long periods of time and I’m really not good at that. So Rocco is sticking recorders in my face. By the way, we’re filming this whole Adios Mofo [tour]. We’re documenting the whole tour for all kinds of applications. Rocco has been having me reminisce about all of these stories. I have so many stories.
So he’s transcribing all of my [stories] and we’re going to create two books. One is Uncommon Sense, because I live a beautifully perfected common-sense lifestyle. That’s the [first book], because it seems to be on the endangered species list out there – but it’s not. It’s alive and well. Then, we’re also documenting my 75 years of being clean and sober, riding the flame-throwing middle finger into that not-so-quiet night. Boy, that’s a statement, that should be the front of the book, shouldn’t it? That book will be titled Stranglehold. I’m going into all of the gory details. It will be unabridged and my God, what an adventure I’ve had. Holy shit.
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