Ted Nugent Talks Guns & Guitars with David Letterman
Watch the Motor City Madman chatting on Late Night with David Letterman in the early '80s and then tearing it up on guitar with the World's Most Dangerous Band.
The late-night talk shows are all about great stories and Ted Nugent knows how to tell a story. In this clip, recorded on VHS in the early 1980s, the Motor City Madman sat down in New York City at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to chat with David Letterman. Their wide-ranging conversation covered wimpy radio programmers, sensitive livestock, firearms, and "Cat Scratch Fever and other love songs."
First things first. The video quality of this clip is not great and Paul Schaeffer has hair. Fourteen-year-old Rebecca Lowe stayed up late one summer night in June of 1982 to record Late Night with David Letterman when she heard that Ted Nugent was going to be on. She pressed play on the VHS recorder and captured a moment. Being 1982, you will see "snow" and hear a little audio noise, but for the time, this is actually an excellent recording. Also, more than forty years ago, Paul Schaeffer had hair. Not as much as Ted Nugent, but enough that you may not recognize him behind the keyboard until he starts frantically jumping about. Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner, but there are links here to part 1 and part 2 of the fifteen-minute appearance, including two songs: a cover of "Johnny B. Goode" and a jam that begins with "Stranglehold."
The conversation begins with crediting Nugent for selling 14-15 million albums without much radio airplay. Ted says radio programmers are "wimps." He has an amusing anecdote about how many watts of power it takes to reduce the productivity of livestock and give a rocker permanent hearing damage. Before the commercial break, Ted grabbed his guitar and sat down in the chair to play a rockin' version of Johnny B. Goode. If you remember, Letterman often looked uncomfortable on his talk show...he seems almost terrified here.
The second half of the interview finds Ted talking about one of his favorite things: guns. "A little target practice is good for a boy," replies Nugent matter-of-factly when Letterman asks him about stories of cutting down trees with guns. What kind of gun? "Smith & Wesson model 29, 6 1/2-inch, Blue Magnum .44 magnum 244 grains of silent lead, boy."
I appreciate good tools. I like to get my hands dirty, grease under my fingernails, and work on my truck and be a mechanic and play games like that on the farm, you know what I mean, and I think guns are just a good tool that certainly have their place.
Talking about his passion for and skill at hunting, the Nuge claims to supply his family, friends, neighbors, and half the state of Michigan with fresh meat. A conversation on big game hunting and gun control follows before Ted picks up his axe again. Unfortunately, what MentalFloss calls one of the most awesome musical performances ever on Late Night gets cut off at the end of the second part. Click the links above to see the Letterman segment on YouTube and keep scrolling to see where Ted Nugent grew up in Michigan.
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