Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ted Nugent Gets Winged By His Roadie

(This blog, in a slightly different form, was written for and originally appeared on
my good friend Colin Gawel's blogsite Pencilstorm.com, which you should
definitely check out at your earliest opportunity, it's pretty great.)

In 1974 my day job was working in the warehouse of a Service Merchandise store on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio, unloading trucks.  I had brought my Stratocaster with me that day 'cause I was going to band practice straight from work.  The guy whose truck we were unloading was a long-haired over-the-road kid from Detroit and we got to talking when he asked who played guitar.

It turned out the guy had been a roadie for Ted Nugent when Ted was still in The Amboy Dukes.  Nugent used to do this stage routine where he would break a big-ass glass jar the roadies would place on a pedestal in front of his Marshall stack.  Ted would hit a high note, hold it and shatter the jar with his all-out bad-ass sonic rock attack.  I'd actually seen them do that bit at an outdoor festival a coupla years before somewhere outside Dayton.

Roadie-guy tells us, though, that at club shows where Nugent couldn't turn the amps up loud enough to actually shatter the jar without deafening the bar audience, it was his job to stand out of sight offstage and shoot out the glass with an air rifle when Ted hit his big dramatic note.

It went great for months, the guy told me, until one night he was higher than shit and when the Big Glass Shootout Moment came the roadie missed the jar and hit Nugent in the forearm of his fretting hand.  Ted yelped and stopped playing entirely (as well he should have, he HAD just gotten shot after all) and roadie-guy panicked, re-pumped the BB gun and shot out the jar in near-total silence now that the rest of the band had stopped the song when they saw blood running down Ted's arm.  There was a certain amount of jeering from the crowd at the duplicitous nature of the glass-break routine until the band could get cranked back up to complete the tune.  The Amboy Dukes finished the set and then it was off to the emergency room for Ted to get the BB dug out of his arm.

The truck driver concluded the story with an incredulous, "AND THEY FIRED ME!  I GOT FIRED FROM THE ROAD CREW THAT SAME NIGHT!"  "You're surprised at that?" I asked the guy, there in the receiving area of Service Merchandise.  "You shot your boss and ruined the band's big stage finale and you're pissed-off that you got fired?" 

"I only shot Nugent ONCE," the guy said, firing up a joint while walking back to the cab of his truck, "nobody ever talks about all the nights that things went okay."

I would like to state for the record that I have served as a roadie and/or a road manager since 1978 for a variety of acts - Willie Phoenix in 4 or 5 different incarnations, Watershed, Hamell On Trial, The Whiles, Colin Gawel & The Lonely Bones, among others - and never once have I shot any of my employers onstage.

© 2013 Ricki C.

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