Amboy Dukes


Detroit's Amboy Dukes are best remembered for their 1968 acid-rock classic "Journey to the Center of the Mind," as well as introducing the world to "the Motor City Madman", guitarist Ted Nugent.

Nugent was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1948 and started playing guitar at age nine. Early in 1960, he formed his first group, "the Royal High Boys", and by 1962 had moved on to "the Lourds". The Lourds won a Battle of the Bands contest, with fourteen year old Nugent doing a guitar solo on the judge's table. Soon, they were opening for the Supremes and The Beau Brummels.

Much to his regret, Nugent's family moved to Chicago in 1965 where young Ted formed a new band. He had heard of a Detroit group who had just broken up called "Amboy Dukes" and started using the name for his new Chicago band. "The Amboy Dukes" was actually the name of a novel about gang members and their lifestyle. In later interviews, Nugent said that although many people have given him a copy of the book, he has never actually read it.

Nugent returned to southeastern Michigan in 1967, and assembled a new Dukes line-up including vocalist John Drake, a former bandmate in the Lourds, as well as rhythm guitarist Steve Farmer, bassist Bill White, keyboardist Rick Lober and drummer Dave Palmer. The group quickly emerged as one of the hottest attractions in the Detroit.

After a series of line-up shifts which saw White and Lober exit in favor of bassist Greg Arama and keyboardist Andy Solomon, in 1968 the Dukes released their album "Journey to the Center of the Mind" on the local "Mainstream" label. The title track, which Nugent wrote the music for Steve Farmer's lyrics, was released as a single and climbed the U.S. pop chart to number 16. Despite its apparent drug related theme, Nugent himself claims to have "never smoke a joint...never done a drug in my life. I thought 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' meant look inside yourself, use your head, and move forward in life".

By the time the Amboy Dukes recorded their follow-up L.P. in 1969, vocalist Rusty Day had replaced John Drake. "Migrations", failed to equal the success of its predecessor and a third effort, "Marriage on the Rocks" was issued later that same year. It was also a disappointment, and after 1971's "Survival of the Fittest", Nugent dismissed Day and Solomon as Dave Palmer left the group to accept an engineering job at Electric Lady Studios.

Nugent would later explain, "There never really was a break-up of the Amboy Dukes. It just got to be such a revolving door mentality with the musicians. I was so upset internally with the amount of effort I was putting out with the constant human battering I was doing with the musicians. I was bailing them out of jail for breaking into a Coke machine or because they got caught with a joint. I felt like I was a babysitter. I also acted as a road manager. I used to book the band. I used to maintain all the equipment. I used to change the oil in the cars. I used to drive the truck and set it up. I handled all the hotels. I kept all the ledger books. I did everything. So for the first time in my life I took a year off. It was too loony".

As it turned out, Nugent took only three months off, but it changed his life. He went to Colorado to go deer hunting and found it to be of incredible therapeutic value.

Nugent's magnificent self-titled 1975 solo album set the stage for a spectacular career of hell raising guitar mayhem. A master guitarist, accomplished songwriter and wild showman, it was no surprise that the success of Ted Nugent led to a rapid fire succession of multi-platinum albums including "Free For All" (featuring budding musical star Meat Loaf on several cuts), "Cat Scratch Fever", "Double Live Gonzo", "Weekend Warriors" and "State Of Shock".

On a sad note, Nugent's old friend from his Amboy Duke days, bassist Greg Arama was killed in a motorcycle accident on September 18th, 1979, at the age of 29.

By the time the Eighties arrived, Ted Nugent's commercial fortunes took a nosedive. But the ever resilient guitarist carried on, recording a string of new studio albums ("Scream Dream", "Intensities In 10 Cities", "Nugent", "Penetrator", "If You Can't Lick 'Em, Lick 'Em") and logging millions of miles on the rock and roll highway.

The Nineties were kinder to Ted, with a major renaissance in the shape of a new supergroup, "Damn Yankees", a band whose recruits included former Styx guitarist, Tommy Shaw, ex-Night Ranger bassist, Jack Blades and drummer Michael Cartellone. The group's self-titled 1990 debut was an instant success and included the # 3 smash, "High Enough". Enjoying his newfound commercial success, Nugent was able to balance a blockbuster career with Damn Yankees and as a solo artist, while allowing ample time for his other great love, hunting, and what he celebrates as "The Great Spirit Of The Wild".

Into the 21st Century, after five decades of hard rockin', Ted Nugent remains a distinctive and uncompromising musician whose thirst for rock and roll is unequalled. A world renowned hunter, NRA board member, New York Times best selling author, magazine publisher (Ted Nugent's Adventure Outdoors), award-winning writer for over forty publications, radio personality, and business entrepreneur, Ted Nugent still lives and dies for the raucous scream that is his sacred rock and roll. A live 2001 album called "Full Bluntal Nugity" was supported by a 28 date tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Deep Purple.

In January, 2004, Ted hopped on the reality TV bandwagon, hosting Surviving Ted: The Ted Commandments for VH1, where contestants attempt to live in survival mode on one of his ranches. Ted almost didn't survive himself, having an unfortunate accident with a chainsaw during the making of the show. He required 40 stitches to close the wound.

Nugent was back in the news again in April, 2012 when he pleaded guilty to a federal wildlife violation after he failed to track down and kill a black bear he wounded with bow and arrow in Alaska during filming of his reality TV show, Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild. He was tagged with a $10,000 fine and was required to film a public service announcement about responsible hunting. In late December of that year, The Discovery Channel announced that Ted's show American Guns would not be renewed and reruns would not be shown. A Discovery spokesperson said that the right-wing rocker would not be back on the channel.

In January, 2014, Nugent was asked in an interview with about the 2016 presidential race. In his answer, he referred to President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel," a term that he later apologized for. June of that year brought news that Nugent's first new album in seven years, "ShutUp&Jam!" was set for release on July 8th. The effort was co-produced by Michael Lutz of Brownsville Station with an appearance on two songs by drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek of Mitch Ryder And the Detroit Wheels. Longtime Nugent vocalist Derek St. Holmes sings "Everything Matters" while Sammy Hagar guests on "She's Gone". Meanwhile, Nugent and his band were gearing up for a U.S. tour slated to run from July 3 in Wichita Falls to August 16 in Fort Worth. For the Summer of 2016, Ted and the boys were booked to appear at several shows across America.

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