Ted Nugent Has A Heart Deep Down Inside
Amboy Dukes Reunion
The Original Amboy Dukes
Reunion Brings Out the Best of the Craveman
You know, this guy Ted Nugent is hard to figure out. Following him is like following a butterfly -- you never know where he is going to land. You love him, you hate him. He does rotten things and he does spectacular things. I don't know, I am not a shrink. Maybe i need one.
If you follow the Motor City Mad Man or his bands you are well aware that Ted and the Dukes had a mini reunion this past spring for the Detroit Music Awards. Now, with he ego as large as his can be, he could have appeared there solo with any musician and left the Amboy Dukes to collecting dust in history.
But, NO. He did a reunion with them. I don't know who's idea it was but it doesn't matter. Here we have a Rock Giant swallowing his enormous pride (ego) and playing as member of a rock group of the past when he was a youngster. I say, Bravo Ted.
So there was a reunion of the original Amboy Dukes (One of my flippin' favorite groups of all time along with Ides of March, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Cactus). The original Amboy Dukes (at least on album) consisted of
- Ted Nugent (You know him already)
- Steve Farmer (the brains behind the music, formerly of the Gang)
- Rick Lober (keyboard wizard, especially piano)
- Dave Palmer (drummer, engineer for Cactus and many other accomplishments)
- John Brake/Drake (vocals, who lives not to far from me)
- Bill White (Bass, member of Diamond Dukes
- Andy Solomon (great organist/songwriter and creator of Godfrey Daniel)
- Rusty Day (vocals, formerly of Cactus and Detroit Wheels -- deceased)
- Greg Arama (bass, formerly of Ursa Major, the Gang -- deceased)
Well, except for the dearly departed Dukes, only Dave Palmer could not attend. Everyone else showed up and I didn't see any fights or back biting, although Ted was sharpening his arrows. Jim Butler, also of the Gang, filled in for Dave on drums and did an excellent job playing with his buddies.
The Dukes played 3 songs for the stunned audience. They did their first hit "Baby Please Don't Go", then after Ted introduced the band and commented that Steve Farmer was wearing the same jacket he wore in 1967 they did the biggie "Journey To The Center of the Mind", and finally, after introducing Johnny"Bee" Badanjek of Mitch Ryder/Detroit Wheels/Rockets/Alice Cooper fame on drums the Dukes belted out "Jenny Take A Ride".
You can see all 3 of these songs from the reunion at You Tube.
For added commentary on "Why I Love and Hate and Love Ted Nugent" and more info about the reunion check out The Rise and Fall of Ted Nugent new update.
What A Heart
Just to see Ted with the originals and how much fun they had made me realize Ted Nugent is human after all. This is the side of Ted we like to see. One side I enjoyed seeing was when he was on David Letterman years ago during Christmas time and he was "singing" a duet with Dave. Obviously it was very funny and I think made more people like Ted. On the opposite side of the coin, when Ted appeared at a summer fest in Chicago Ridge a lot of people left because he went overboard on the language. So I guess it depends on what Ted says that determines whether you love him or hate him.
However, the reunion was more than just what Ted says. It illustrated that he has a heart and wanted to let bygones be bygones and meet up with the guys, rehearse and be a band again after all these years, even if it was for just a brief moment in history. I spoke with Rick Lober a few years ago when I was in Detroit and he said he was itching to get back on stage and play. He was even mentioning some teeny bopper singers -- that's how bad he wanted to play. I think he got his wish with the reunion. And Rick played his little heart out on stage.
Between 1969 and 2009
Well the time between when they split up and until the reunion this year, what could have happened if the Dukes took a different path? We all know what Ted did. Damn Yankees should be one of his most proudest projects. I just don't understand why most of the Amboy Dukes did not join up or start a new group or whatever.
Dave Palmer produced one of my favorite songs "No" by Bulldog. I only have it on 45 and I think it was on Decca. He also engineered with Eddie Kramer (Yes, Jimi Hendrix's Eddie Kramer at Electric Ladyland Studio) Cactus and other projects. So his path was clear and successful.
Rusty Day left Amboy Dukes and joined with his buddy, guitar legend Jimmy McCarty, in Cactus. Rusty's path ended in tragedy.
Greg Arama, who befriended Dick Wagner (co-writing Welcome to My Nightmare for Alice Cooper) died tragically on a motorcycle after his days with Ursa Major.
Andy Solomon, who with his brother Robert wrote "The Inexaustible Quest For The Cosmic Cabbage" in answer to Steve Farmer's "Why Is A Carrot More Orange Than An Orange" created a project called Godfrey Daniel with Dave Palmer doing do wop to rock songs. I hear Andy is doing quite well in music but another path for him would have been to join up with Sha Na Na. He would have made a bundle with them for the "Grease" soundtrack. Then again, he may be doing other things we're not aware of right now. His doo wop selection of "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" on the "Migration" album shows the different directions the Amboy Dukes was going before they all split up.
Bill White is a very gifted bassist. His bassline on "Baby Please Don't Go" is an often imitated line by many-a-bassists. Bill is more blues than hard rock and it would be nice to see him team up with Jim McCarty.
John Drake had some strong vocal chops. While Steve sang the more sensitive songs for the group, John excited the audiences with vocal chords like a 75 mile an hour train bearing down at you. I don't know what happened to him in the time between, but my suggestion has always been this: Jim Morrison died. Let John Drake replace him in the Doors. John was in the same vocal range but had more energy and power. This was a path I would like to have seen.
Steve Farmer is one cool dude whom I have been following for many years. I scratch my head in wonder as to why this creative guy did not belt out album after album. Here is a guy who could've went pop similar to Three Dog Night or heavier in the style of Rare Earth. His song writing talent is well above the average lyricist as it is generally tinged with inside humor. He did not write drug anthems as many have said. He wrote songs to make you think they were drug anthems and they were not. It's his type of sense of humor and not alleged drug use that made him write the way he did. In 2000 he released an album "Journey To The Darkside of the Mind" as a modern version of his Amboy Dukes hit single. This guy incorporates narration into songs, working with many different nuances to create a picture on disk. He's probably the guy who suggested that Jim Butler sit in at the reunion. They're very good friends, along with Rick Lober and I think the right path to take now is for these guys to re-form the Amboy Dukes with or without Ted Nugent.
When the Ides of March had a reunion in 1999, they have stayed together since then. I'd like to see that with the Amboy Dukes. If any of you out there run into Steve or Rick or Bill, make the suggestion and let me know what they say.
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