hortly after leaving his home in Michigan, Ted Nugent moved to Chicago, Illinois to start a psychedelic Prog. Rock act called The Amboy Dukes with the original line-up of himself on vocals and guitar, John Drake (vocals), Steve Farmer (guitar), Bill White (bass), Rick Lober (keyboards) and David Palmer (drums) to release their debut single, a cover of Big Joe Williams' Baby Please Don't Go (more famously covered by Them) on the Mainstream' label in 1967.
Rusty Day replaced Drake, and Farmer and took on vocals, while Andy Soloman replaced Lober, and Greg Arama took over for White for the release of the follow-up sophomore album Journey To The Center Of The Mind (1969). Despite Nugent being a vehement anti-drug promoter, going so far as to fire anyone in his act who considered taking even the mildest of narcotics (he had no qualms about hunting animals for sport, however), the eponymous debut album went to 74 on the U.S. charts in 1968, with the drug plotted Journey To The Center Of The Mind title track there-of making U.S. 20. But the success was short lived, for Migration (1969) and Marriage On The Rocks - Rock Bottom (1970) followed with little chart significance.
Replacing his band membership to Bob Grange (bass), K.J. Knight (drums) and the returning Andy Soloman (keyboards), Nugent's act became Ted Nugent And The Amboy Dukes to release a set of solid Rock albums, the first of which would be Survival Of The Fittest, a live 1971 set; his debut for Frank Zappa's Discreet' label. The line-up proved to not be working out to his liking so Nugent reset the membership to Bob Grange (bass), Andy Jezowski (vocals), Gabriel Magno (keyboards), and Vic Matrianni (drums) to release Call Of The Wild in 1974, and Tooth, Fang And Claw in 1975 with Rev. Atrocious Theodolius replacing Magno.
It didn't last and Ted Nugent once again returned with a new act, this time under his own name on Epic' to release his best album thus far, his self-titled Ted Nugent album in 1976, an album that made 28 in the U.S. (56 U.K.) featuring fellow musicians Derek St. Holmes (ex-Scott; guitar/vocals), Cliff David (drums), the returning Bob Grange as well as various guest performers. By now Ted Nugent had left his '60's progressive rock behind and had evolved into a heavy rocking bare-chested, axe wielding behemoth, years before the likes of Manowar.
Meat Loaf would be his guest on his next effort, Free-For-All (1976). The album beat his previous record to now give him a 24 in the U.S., 33 in the U.K. But his next opus became his most famous, for the 1977 Cat Scratch Fever was Nugent in his prime, the title track and the glorious Wang Dang Sweet Poontang pushing the album to new heights. At one point at a live show he even showed his affection for a fan by (presumably consensual) carving his name into her arm with a knife. A 17 U.S. (28 U.K.) charting was his reward.
The next year he'd release the equally successful Double Live Gonzo! a 13 U.S. (47 U.K.) charting album. It was here that Nugent ran into the bumper on his career for the follow-ups Weekend Warriors (1978), with Charlie Huhn (vocals) and David Hull (bass), and State Of Shock (1979; with Walter Monaghan replacing Hull) both failing to get significant attention.
During the 1980s, his career was lackluster with most albums commercially falling flat. Scream Dream (1980) and (Intensities) In 10 Cities (1981) were exceptions making 13 U.S./37 U.K. and 51 U.S./75 U.K. respectively. After the compilation "best of " album Great Gonzos! The Best Of Ted Nugent (1981) the line-up changed again to Derek St. Holmes returning from Whitford/St. Holmes to replace Huhn, Dave Kiswiney (bass) replaced Monaghan, and famed Carman Appice (ex-Vanilla Fudge/ex-Cactus; drums) replaced Davis. The resulting Nugent (1982) managed a 51 in the U.S., but demanding more he once again recruited yet another band featuring Brian Howe (vocals), Alan St. John (keyboards), Doug Labahn (bass) and Bobby Chouinard (drums). The resulting Penetrator (1984) failed to increase his presence by barley matching the previous effort with a 56 U.S. position.
After taking a break to appear on the Miami Vice TV show, he returned with the 76 U.S. charting Little Miss Dangerous in 1986 with the membership of Dave Amato (guitar/vocals) replacing Howe, and Ricky Philips (ex-Babys; bass) replacing Labahn. Nugent must have been smoking something at this point for his unconvincing attempt at telling the world that listing to the title track of the latter would cure you of the AIDS virus was nothing more than humorous. But even one more line up change of Dave Kiswiney (bass), Pat Marchino (drummer), and the returning Derek St. Holmes (vocals/guitar) couldn't save the decline of If You Can't Lick Em Lick Em (1988).
Once again Nugent broke the act up in an attempt to revitalize his career with Tommy Shaw (ex-Styx; vocals), Jack Blades (ex-Night Ranger; bass), Michael Cartellone (drums) joining his new act Damn Yankees. The debut 1990 self-titled album was the best this act accomplished, gaining a 13 U.S./26 U.K. Don't Tread (1992) made 22 in the U.S. only. Steve Smith (ex-Journey; drums) replaced Nugent who jumped the sinking ship (now renamed Shaw Blades) to go solo once again with fellow band mates Dave Amato (guitar), Chuck Wright (bass), and Pat Torpey (drums) to produce a new solo effort Spirit Of The Wild in 1995. The "best of " compilation Motor City Madness followed in 1996 with the live effort Live At Hammersmith '79 following close behind as an attempt to relive his glory days of the past, no doubt the 1970s being his prime times. Full Bluntal Nugity saw him back in the studio in 2001, with the release of Craveman (2002) getting fair reviews. Love Grenade (2007) and Shutup & Jam! (2014) would follow.