I’m not going to dwell on politics. Whether you agree with Mr. Nugent’s political beliefs or not, it doesn’t feature in this article. I may reference songs and/or actions of his that are political. But, I am in no way attempting to promote anything other than the music and the artist who wrote it.
Theodore Anthony Nugent was born into a military family in Redford, Michigan. He was raised in Detroit and is the third of four children born to Marion Dorothy and Army sergeant Warren Henry Nugent.
Early Career of Ted Nugent
While attending St. Viator High School in 1965, Ted joined his first band called The Amboy Dukes. The band started by playing small shows wherever they could, most notably at a teen dance club in Arlington Heights just outside of Chicago, Illinois.
While the club did have a house band, The Amboy Dukes eventually took over and remained the staple band for the venue until its closing. The Amboy Dukes recorded and released three albums on the label, Mainstream. These albums sold in moderate numbers.
Making a name…
After making a home for himself on a ranch in Michigan, Nugent signed a recording deal with FrankZappa’s DiscReet Records label. The group’s name had been revised, and they now became known as Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes.
The group recorded the albums Call Of The Wild and Tooth, Fang & Claw. While these albums were by no means smash hits, they established a solid and loyal fanbase for the band.
Ted officially dropped the Amboy Dukes name and became known only as Ted Nugent, signing to a new label, Epic Records. Ted retained only his bassist from the previous Amboy Dukes lineup and quickly began getting another band together.
During this time, Ted Nugent recorded his eponymous 1975 album, Ted Nugent, 1976’s Free-For-All, and Cat Scratch Fever in 1977. All three have been certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. Ted went on to record multiple solo and live albums, of which the latter sold very successfully.
A short stint in a super-group…
During the 80s, Ted Nugent joined the supergroup Damn Yankees. The band released an eponymous debut album in 1990 to massive critical and commercial success in the United States.
The second Damn Yankees album, Don’t Tread, in 1992, was also the group’s last. The first record was certified double platinum, and the second went gold.
A voice for others…
Ted has hosted his own radio show on WWBR-FM 102.7, The Bear, Detroit’s Rock “Animal,” and created TV shows for quite a few networks. Ted Nugent was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2006.
Picking the best songs from Nugent’s eighteen album discography was a task not taken lightly. I’m sure there may be many disagreements, but here is my personal list of the best Ted Nugent Songs of all time.
Top 28 Best Ted Nugent Songs of All Time
Album: Ted Nugent
This track is a no-brainer to start with. Anyone fortunate enough to have gone to one of Ted Nugent’s live shows will know that he loves to kick them off with this thunderous track. It is one of Ted Nugent’s most iconic songs, and the crowds love it.
This is a straightforward rocker. There is probably no better song to introduce someone who has never heard of him to Ted Nugent. The rampant insane verses with the ever-insistent groove rumbling along and keeping the low-end present, are just irresistible headbanger material.
Then, there’s that hooky chorus that makes a crowd come alive and yell, “Get Ready Ready!” Finally, there’s a single break in the seemingly inevitable rumble of Stormtroopin’ for one of Ted’s energetic Chuck Berry-inspired solos.
Album: Little Miss Dangerous
I’m sure that a few hardcore Nugent fans will vehemently disagree with me picking this song. After all, it comes from what All Music blatantly called “The Worst Album Nugent has ever Made.”
Yes, the 80’s production, the lunch panel numbers like “Body Talk” and “Angry Young Man,” and the seemingly air-filled lyrics do not make a strong case for 1986’s Little Miss Dangerous, especially when there were nineteen-year-old thrashers like Metallica and Anthrax coming up.
But, hear me out…
I make the case for “Painkiller” here simply because it might not be made anywhere else if I don’t. Trouble is, the rest of Little Miss Dangerous is mostly unbearable. Therefore, very few fans ever got through the first nine tracks to reach this hidden golden Nugent nugget.
It’s not only a good composition; it is a world away from Nugent’s usual hard rock style. Yet, he managed to pull off a Synth landscape, and drum machine beat with total dignity.
If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and see if you can fault its production, composition, or sound. A very healthy dose of good old experimentation. You may just find this is one of the most underrated Ted Nugent songs out there.
Album: Spirit of the Wild
“People ask for it at their funerals, their Bar Mitzvahs, their graduations… It doesn’t get more ‘wow’ than that.”
That is how Ted once described his pride in “Fred Bear.” Of all his compositions, it is the one he probably holds most dear. That comes as no surprise. You can hear the labor that was endured to write and record it when you listen to the song. This has made it one of the most memorable Ted Nugent songs in rock and roll history.
A tribute track…
Fred Bear was an American Bow Pioneer as well as being a close personal friend of Ted Nugent’s. Being a bow enthusiast, Nugent found a kinship with Fred Bear. As a result, he decided to express this and his pain at having to endure the loss of his friend on his 1995 album, Spirit of the Wild.
A simple mix of heartfelt lyrics, guitars, and endearing vocal performance, “Fred Bear” remains a staple of Nugent’s live shows. And it is without question one of the best Ted Nugent songs of all time.
Great White Buffalo
Album: Tooth, Fang & Claw
This is probably the most memorable track from Ted Nugent’s years with The Amboy Dukes. The album cover of Tooth, Fang & Claw even made it into the movies. It appeared on a shirt the character Wooderson wore in the 1993 coming of age comedy film “Dazed and Confused.”
A plea for man to be more respectful towards nature. To live in harmony with her rather than seeking to dominate or exploit her bounty for maximum material profit. Ted praises the Native Americans of earlier years who never took more than they were capable of returning in good time.
The subject matter might be something you relate to or not. But, something that can not be denied is Nugent’s songwriting ability. At this point, it was already well developed and on course to only improve.
Motor City Madhouse
Album: Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent is no stranger to expressing his love for things close to his heart. And one of those is his hometown of Detroit.
In this energetic pacemaker-shorting track, Nugent sings praises for his hometown and its citizens. In particular, he cites a source of pride for many Detroit residents, the immense car culture. Along with the working-class attitude of the man on the street found in The Motor City.
Moving to Motown…
“Motor City Madhouse” has been credited as the track that contained the tone and sound that would help Nugent crossover to fans of the Motown sound and groups like MC5 and The Stooges.
The song has a nice smooth background vocal track carried along on the shoulders of a good solid drum beat and bass groove (reminiscent of the Motown sound).
As Ted blasts through the lyrics, he peppers the tune here and there with small razorblade solos between verses and choruses, as if seasoning a steak.
Album: Ted Nugent
As “Stairway to Heaven” is to Led Zeppelin, so “Stranglehold” is to Ted Nugent. This song, which is usually his closer during live performances, has become Ted Nugent’s biggest song. Something likely intended when this eight-minute epic was placed as the opener on the album.
The song features one of Ted’s most epic guitar riffs and tones. Not only that, it is rumored that the superb guitar solo is the very first take Nugent did when they were recording.
The song contains a larger-than-life quality that only massive rock ballads can contain. When performed live, it instills life into the crowd and makes them as much a performer as the energetic and passionate Nugent himself. It will most likely outlive him and all of us.
Wang Dang Sweet P****tang
Album: Cat Scratch Fever
This one is unapologetically naughty and dripping in sleaze. I believe it’s one of the best guilty pleasure songs in history. And, when viewed in the right light, it’s nothing more than good old fashion fun; just don’t go reading into it too much. Rather, ride the groove like a wave that comes and goes.
Cat Scratch Fever
Album: Cat Scratch Fever
Of course, this monster was going to be on the list. This is likely to be the song that got most people introduced to Ted’s particular flavor of hard rock. It is easily the most popular Ted Nugent song of all time.
Not only that, it contains one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time and was also one of the most fun to play songs on Guitar Hero.
Dog Eat Dog
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Free for All
Need You Bad
Out of Control
Yank Me, Crank Me
Here Comes Trouble
Little Miss Dangerous
High Heels in Motion
Rawdogs & Warhogs
Turn It Up
I Got the Feelin’
Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine
Baby Please Don’t Go
Looking for More Great Music?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Chicago Songs of All Time, the Best Fleetwood Mac Songs, the Best Garth Brooks Songs of All Time, the Best Maroon 5 Songs of All Time, and the Best Cat Stevens Songs of All Time for more awesome song selections.
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Best Ted Nugent Songs of All Time – Conclusion
Nugent has been noted for asking crowds, “What kind of music is this?” His answer to the question is, “soul music!” This answer doesn’t make much sense if you’re of a rock ‘n roll mentality.
But, when you imagine the riff of “Cat Scratch Fever” played by a horn section, you begin to understand that what Nugent says makes absolute sense. Soul Rock, Baby!
Until next time, happy listening.