In a 1990 interview now available online for the first time, National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesperson Ted Nugent defended apartheid in South Africa, said that he uses racial expletives because he “hang[s] around with a lot of niggers,” and described the bizarre efforts he claims to have taken to avoid military service during the Vietnam War.
Snippets from “Ted Nugent Grows Up? Older, Bolder, Cruder, Ruder -- And More Unprintable Than Ever,” published in Detroit Free Press Magazine on July 15, 1990, have been floating around on the Internet for years. Media Matters requested a copy of the interview from the Detroit Public Library, which archives the Free Press, to authenticate the statements.
Nugent has recently been the subject of widespread controversy after calling President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” during an appearance at a January gun industry trade show. That comment resurfaced the next month when Republican Texas governor hopeful Greg Abbott invited Nugent to campaign with him. Abbott's decision created a firestorm of controversy around Nugent that only dissipated after he offered a disingenuous apology for his remark. Fallout continues from that controversy, as a Texas music festival recently announced it would pay Nugent not to show up for a planned performance.
The comments made by Nugent to Detroit Free Press Magazine demonstrate how his slur of Obama is par for the course for the NRA representative (all ellipses are DFP's):
Nugent On Race: Defends Apartheid, His Use Of The Word “Nigger”
Discussing the system of racial segregation enforced in South Africa at the time, Nugent said that “apartheid isn't that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.” While claiming that he had “great respect” for the indigenous people of South Africa, Nugent called them “a different breed of man” claiming that "[t]hey still put bones in their noses, they still walk around naked, they wipe their butts with their hands":
The 40,000-acre ranch he manages in South Africa is a particularly sore point. The ranch is used exclusively for bow hunting, Nugent's passion.
“My being there isn't going to affect any political structure,” he says. “Besides, apartheid isn't that cut-and-dry. All men are not created equal.”
“The preponderance of South Africa is a different breed of man,” Nugent says. “I mean that with no disrespect. I say that with great respect. I love them because I'm one of them. They are still people of the earth, but they are different. They still put bones in their noses, they still walk around naked, they wipe their butts with their hands. And when I kill an antelope for 'em, their preference is the gut pile. That's what they f***ing want to eat, the intestines. These are different people. You give 'em toothpaste, they f***ing eat it...I hope they don't become civilized. They're way ahead of the game.”
Nugent's comments came a few months after Nelson Mandela was released following 27 years in prison.
Nugent also defended calling his music tour in Japan the “Jap Whack Tour” and his use of the word “nigger”:
Nugent sometimes talks and sings about women as if they were sexual toys. His conversations are peppered with the word “nigger.” He calls his upcoming tour of Japan the “Jap Whack Tour.”
“I mean no disrespect. I'm sure the Japanese are wonderful folks...And if I'm with a bunch of guys, we may talk about babes in a certain way...I use the word nigger a lot because I hang around with a lot of niggers, and they use the word nigger, and I tend to use words that communicate...I don't mean to offend. I'm a fun guy, not a sexist or racist.”
Shemane Nugent Explains That Her Husband's Sexism Is “Just An Act”
During the controversy surrounding Nugent's “subhuman mongrel” remark, he was also widely criticized for his misogynist attacks on women, including past characterizations of Hillary Clinton as a “toxic cunt” and “worthless bitch.”
As the Free Press interview notes, Nugent “sometimes talks and sings about women as if they were sexual toys.” Indeed, the interview quotes Nugent as saying, “When other guys were getting high, I would grab a couple babes, go squirrel hunting and see just how mini mini-skirts could get.”
The interview also contains a defense of Nugent's sexism from his wife:
“I shouldn't say this, because I know he has an image to uphold, but as far as the comments he makes to and about women, it's just an act. The person on stage is not the person I know at home. Things come out of his mouth on stage that I've never heard before in my life. I think, 'Who is that person up there?' The music turns him into another person.”
Nugent Says He Soiled Himself To Avoid Vietnam Among Other Bizarre Anecdotes
The Free Press reported that Nugent claimed he avoided service in Vietnam after showing up at his draft physical after “virtually living inside pants caked with his own excrement, stained by his urine.” Nugent described to the Free Press a process where “he stopped all forms of personal hygiene” and for 10 days before his physical “ingested nothing but Vienna sausages and Pepsi” while relieving himself in his own clothing.
Nugent also claimed that he would be the first to fight in a war prosecuted by Presidents Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush, but said about Vietnam, "[I]f I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed all the hippies in the foxholes...I would have killed everybody":
Nevertheless, the song made the Dukes a national act. They began touring 250 nights a year or more. That's when Uncle Sam told Nugent it was time to go to war, and Nugent told Sam to go to hell.
Nugent says his blood runs red, white, Reagan and Bush, and if they had a war -- a real war -- he would fight his way to the front line. He was proud to play the national anthem before a Detroit Pistons-Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference championship game.
And he is equally proud that the Michigan Legislature this year proclaimed him a “wholesome, traditional,” man of “honesty, integrity, loyalty and patriotism.”
But Nugent wanted no part of Vietnam. He claims that 30 days before his draft board physical, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene. The last 10 days, he ingested nothing but Vienna sausages and Pepsi and a week before his physical, he stopped using bathrooms altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with his own excrement, stained by his urine.
That spectacle won Nugent a deferment, he says, although the Free Press was unable to verify his draft status.
“The men who went should be applauded, but if I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed all the hippies in the foxholes...I would have killed everybody.”
Among other anecdotes shared by Nugent was his claim that he played music loud enough to kill a bandmate's aunt:
"We were practicing in the basement at this guy's house once, his name was Gary Hicks, and his mother kept yelling at us to turn it down, and, of course, you can't play rock' n' roll quietly, so we kept on playing.
“The next thing we know she's yelling down, 'YOU KILLED HER. SHE'S DEAD. GARY HELP ME.' His aunt had keeled over and died right as I was playing a solo...That's how loud we were.”
Nugent also said he watched Jimi Hendrix die and his reaction was, “Yeah so what? What did you f***ing expect?”
“I knew I didn't hold a candle to [Jimi Hendrix] with the guitar. But he was also a total dipsh-- because he was always so high. I watched him die, and when they told me he was dead, I just said, 'Yeah, so what? What did you f***ing expect?'”
The article also described an incident, which was apparently not disputed by Nugent, where he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon while wearing nothing but a loincloth:
On another occasion, he was arrested and jailed for three days for carrying a concealed weapon. While driving his girlfriend's Volkswagen bug to a gig in Traverse City, he was stopped wearing only a loincloth and carrying a Bowie knife.
The full Free Press article: