You know how much I love the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If you ever get a chance to visit it, do it! My advice is to take a day to go through everything in the place. It is a Hard Rock Cafe on steroids. Everywhere you look, you see something on display that will trigger a memory. I remember seeing a concert outfit that Jimi Hendrix wore and not believing how small he must have been. At the time that I went, back in the early 2000s, the Hall had a special display honoring John Lennon, so imagine my reaction to seeing actual handwritten lyrics to his immortal song “Imagine”. And, I remember the somber feeling I felt when I saw the glasses he was wearing when he was assassinated. It was arranged with the other objects Yoko Ono used in the photographs she took of those glasses for the cover of her album that was being produced the night Lennon was gunned down. That album, released in 1981, was called Season of Glass, which happens to be a very good album.
For the past several years, metal impresario Eddie Trunk has rightfully been calling for the induction of more metal artists. And, when he starts name-dropping various artists, I always agree with him when he begins his rant with Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Motorhead. And, I can get behind his choices of Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. And, although I understand his backing of Ronnie James Dio, arguably the greatest metal singer of all-time, outside of Heaven and Hell, the line-up of Black Sabbath that was popular in the early Eighties, Dio’s other bands, Dio and the original Rainbow, were simply okay. So, for Dio to be inducted, it was have to be one of those special inductions for major contributions to music.
But, there is one artist on Mr. Trunk’s list that always causes me pause when the artist’s name is mentioned – Ted Nugent. So, this morning I researched this topic. Now, as a middle school student who had just entered his teens, I enjoyed Ted’s Free for All, Cat Scratch Fever and Double Live Gonzo! albums. At least, until I went to my first concert on August 1, 1979. I was 16 at the time and only had my driver’s license for five months. So, one of my buddies on the basketball team and I got tickets to see Ted headline the concert with AC/DC, with original lead singer Bon Scott, and a newer German band called Scorpions the opening act. As I had stated before, the price of my ticket was $7.50.
What I witnessed that day was something else. Before the concert, my buddy and I went into a restroom, only to be offered a multitude of illegal pharmaceuticals, all of which we passed on. Next, we grabbed a couple of seats next to some other guys from our high school. The Scorpions were first on the stage. All I remember about their set was that one guy was bald on top and had let the rest of his hair grown really long, making him look like Riff Raff in Rocky Horror come to life. After their brief set, AC/DC came out and blew the crowd away. I was a fan of the band before their set, but I walked away an even bigger fan. Little did I realize how good AC/DC was in concert, although I had all of their albums up to that point, including their great live album, You Got Blood If You Want It – Live! So the bar was set pretty high for the Motor City Madman.
Boy, was I disappointed. Ted was simply a one-trick pony. His songs all seemed to blend into one boring song. And for all the notoriety about his guitar playing prowess, I found his solos to be similar in sound and execution from one song to the next. To say I was disappointed was an understatement. I knew, exactly at that moment that I was no longer a fan of Ted Nugent. I decided that very night that the only albums of his I would ever need in my collection would be Double Live Gonzo! and a greatest hits package, if he would ever have one. I found his caveman antics on stage to be very insulting to my intelligence. This was one lukewarm Ted Nugent fan who had been turned off.
In my research, I discovered that Ted Nugent had only one Top 40 hit song as a solo artist, and that song was 1977’s “Cat Scratch Fever”, and it only peaked at number 30. His other Top 40 hits were with his original Sixties garage band, The Amboy Dukes, who took the classic drug song (though Ted, ever the anti-drug and alcohol rocker claims the song’s drug references went over his head, which totally contradicts his claim to be an alpha male in all areas including intelligence…oops!) “Journey to the Center of the Mind”, which peaked at number 16. His other Top 40 hits came from his sell-out supergroup band Damn Yankees, whom he teamed with Styx’ Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger’s Jack Blades. “High Enough” peaked at number 3 in 1990, becoming Ted’s only Top 10 hit. The other hit, “Where You Goin’ Now” from Damn Yankees’ second album Don’t Tread peaked at number 20.
Then, since Nugent has always been considered an album artist, I decided to look at the chart performances of his albums. The Amboy Dukes’ first album, The Amboy Dukes, is considered a near classic album across the board, but only peaked at number 173; whereas, the band’s follow-up, Journey to the Center of the Mind, peaked at 16 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. If you look at Nugent’s solo career, his chart performance peaked in the mid-Seventies through the early-Eighties. During that time, Nugent had four Top 20 albums: Cat Scratch Fever (#17, 1977), Double Live Gonzo! (#13, 1978), State of Shock (#18, 1979) and Scream Dream (#13, 1980). Finally, let’s consider his work with Damn Yankees, who only stuck together long enough to record two albums. And, only the their first album, the eponymous titled album hit the Top 20, peaking in 1990 at number 13. Which means that Ted Nugent has zero Top 10 albums OR singles, a paltry six Top 20 albums and one Top 30 hit (“Cat Scratch Fever” peaked at #30 in 1977). Since stats are used to help determine the worthiness of a rock star to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, Ted is lacking in that category.
When it comes to influence, Nugent casts a large shadow in the hard rock and heavy metal worlds, but that is as far as his influence extends. Very few punks, soul masters and prog rockers name Nugent as an influence. Finally, Rolling Stone magazine left him off their Top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.
So, with all of this data at my fingertips, I have decided to give you my Top 5 Reasons Ted Nugent Should Be in the RRHOF.
That’s right! I have nothing. And, I did not even consider his political views in this analysis. Ted Nugent does NOT belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he has been letting his mouth do the talking for him to be inducted because he knows deep in his heart that the stats are not on his side.
We are now less than a month away from the Hall announcing their list of artists who are under consideration for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And, I guarantee that Ted Nugent will not be on that list. And, it is not some sort of retribution for his stated politics that will keep in out of the Hall. Sorry, Ted, David Crosby was correct. You are just not good enough.
Remember, this is the opinion of one man. I do not claim to know everything. I just looked at the stats. Now, someone better nominate The Jam/The Style Council/Paul Weller and/or Joy Division/New Order for the Hall. Those artists are much more deserving!
Who do you want to be nominated for the RRHOF? Let me know in the comment section! Until tomorrow, keep on rockin’ in the free world!