Meet The Amboy Dukes

TED NUGENT – lead guitar

IT WAS three years ago, somewhere in the wilderness outside Detroit when Ted first stuck his guitar behind his back and started playing. A week later, it was with his teeth, and another week, with his tongue.

Ted still does all of that today, but for the most part, only in private. “Sure, I did it three years ago,” he’ll explain, “but Jimi Hendrix became so identified with guitar stunts that it just wouldn’t look right for anyone else to come on stage and do it – like it’s not an essential part of the music, it’s just a groovy trick. There’s no reason for anyone else to carry it on. I stopped when Jimi started.”

As intelligent and articulate offstage as he is on, Ted feels that music is the best medium for him to communicate, and the most exacting. “Music says a great deal more than words can; music can create and recreate moods. Instantly. That’s something it takes many words to do.” In his own use of music Ted is carrying on a love affair that is delicate, sincere and about fifteen years old.

Ted’s friends see him as intense, a bit savage, aggressive, demanding and self-assured someone who turns out to be the leader in nearly any situation.

He prefers the outdoors to the plastic inside, and the woods to the city. He’d rather be with a chick who’s sweet, soft and real than be without one. Prefers long hair to nearly anything else he can touch or be tied to.

Ted started the Amboy Dukes in Chicago during mid 1967. Today he’s the acknowledged leader. With the notice he’s been getting, tomorrow might well find him acknowledged as one of the country’s most creative guitarists.

RUSTY DAY – lead vocals

On the day Russell E. “Muscrat” Day joined the AMBOY DUKES, there was an eclipse of the moon; later in the afternoon his nine planets lined up, as they do every million years or so. Rusty was on his way!

Having a hate of people who constantly have to label others, Rusty has seen to it that it’s impossible for anyone to label him. We can try describing him, but that, too, is hard – his head is covered with hair emanating from all directions, long thick sideburns making a bridge to his bushy blond-red mustache, with a sometimes wisp of a beard; eyes always smiling, mouth always sporting an amused expression; always well dressed, usually in leathers, buttoned up, and ready to laugh.

Rusty’s been in groups for eight years now; he headed his own, Rusty Day and the Midnighters for a time – and replaced Mitch Ryder as the lead singer of the Detroit Wheels!

He’s proficient on drums and harmonica. In fact, one of the highlights of any AMBOY DUKES live performance is when both Rusty and Dave set up on their own drum sets and pound the beat together.

In his spare time Rusty does his best to get away from “Things Man-made,” and runs off to the country with the most honest chick he can find – especially if she has outasite legs!

As the newest member of the group, Rusty’s presence has been felt in the changing of the group’s sound further in the direction of Rusty’s own two favorite groups – John Mayall and the early Stones.

Since Rusty’s been around, everyone’s been happier – the sound’s been better, the smiles wider, and the fans more and more numerous.

STEVE FARMER – rhythm guitar

Steve’s head is covered by a silky crown of blonde hair that falls down to caress his shoulders. His tastes, like his mannerisms, are soft; his smile contagious. As a totality he’s modest and disturbingly undemanding – preferring to groove than to complain, and always having a wide grin to offer.

Steve doesn’t talk an awful lot, but he writes a great deal; some poetry, some prose, many songs – but all concerned with the “up” as opposed to the “down”. And that is good.

He’s been playing since junior high school, way back when. He’s been singing in public since he was a kid – always alone though, and never with a group. It was when Ted first dragged him out of Detroit to play with the Amboy Dukes that Steve made his first appearance with others on stage. “I was a little hesitant at first – having too good a time just grooving in Detroit, not wanting to take the chance on anything or anyone spoiling it. All I wanted then was my guitar and a place to lie down.”

But now that he’s an Amboy Duke and he’s travelled to hundreds of cities throughout the country, he’s discovered it all to be a groove:

“Of all the cities we’ve been to,” he’ll volunteer, “I got off the most on Boston. I still dream of myself alone on an island miles out in the ocean with only one visitor a day – a chick I could really turn on and get to know.” Until that time comes, though, Steve will keep more than happy tripping into little blues clubs in whatever town the group is passing through.

DAVE PALMER – drums

Record World Magazine, one of the music industry’s leading insider’s publications, stood up and took note during an incredible ten minute drum solo Dave performed during a recent Amboy Dukes engagement at the Fillmore East in New York.

The crowd at the Fillmore, probably the most critical conglomeration of Rock People to be found anywhere, rose to its feet, with particular homage directed at Dave, after the Dukes completed ‘Going Back to Miami’, one of their favorite live numbers.

Dave is a “doer” and prefers living to sleeping, running to walking. And his energy and exuberance show in everything he does. He’s capable and proficient in mastering nearly any new art or technique instantly, whether it be on his instrument or in his personal life.

In girls, he’s demanding – and always on the lookout for a girl whose main attribute is in her considerateness; one who understands his own many moods, who laughs when appropriate but who also knows when to be quiet.

Dave himself? He’s a bit on the quiet side, preferring actions to words and non-verbal communication to talking. Likewise, he prefers being with people whose dispositions are similar – those who prefer relinquishing with superfluous rapping.

An accomplished writer, Dave has been winning awards for his short stories and articles
since he was in school. He’s been a movie
making addict since he was twelve, carries at least a still camera wherever he goes, and gets into heavy raps with Andy Solomon, on old movies, particularly The Phantom of the Opera. Dave’s own tastes in music run towards jazz and heavy blues, both of which he’s mastered in his own drum technique.

And then there are the talkers and doers…

GREG ARAMA – bass guitar

Someone wise (maybe Andy Solomon?) once made the profound thought that “every rock group has to have an enigma.” Eyes cross-examined each face in the room. Within a few moments there was a consensus.

I looked around then and noticed that all eyes were focused on the face of Greg Arama – who was subsequently dubbed the groups enigma.

Enigma sat tall in his chair, seeing, hearing knowing no evil. He was laughing at all the peering eyes. It was then that the validity of the consensus was affirmed.

Greg is the hardest Duke to figure out. Offstage he prances through life like a fawn or pony (one girl jumped at him before a concert and yelled “Bundle of Joy! Bundle of Joy!”); bright eyed, bushy tailed, always wagging. He’s fiercely loyal to his friends, and wouldn’t think twice about letting himself be torn out of bed at four in the morning to pull a scared kitten out of a tree.

On stage though, Greg goes through transformations, and the affable sociability that dominates his personal life disappears – he stands alone at the rear of the stage, deliberately tangled between the strings of his bass. Not laughing at all save for occasional uncontrollable outbursts when Ted breaks a string or Dave a drumstick.

Detroit, home of the Amboy Dukes, will probably never forget or stop telling tales of Greg’s speed and accuracy on his instrument
…he’s always been part of the local folklore
…but more important, Greg’s bass lines are imaginative musically. They’ve become an important part of the group’s sound.

It’s always interesting to meet an enigma – and in Greg’s case, when the pieces of the
puzzle are finally snapped together, it makes
for a groovy picture and a carefree trip!

ANDY SOLOMON – Piano/organ

Through age and attitude both, Andy is the wise old man of the Amboy Dukes. Self-righteous, introverted and full of justice, he’s more apt to sit and watch than to take over.

But when he does step in, he’s violent, impassioned and rageful. Otherwise he’s, well, he’s Andy Solomon, the man who tempers the sometimes wild antics of the group through his sometimes aloof, often dispassionate, always, attentive attitude.

Through his scholarly, meticulous red beard he peers through his wire-rimmed spectacles at the wildfire goings-on of his cohorts, and half the time sits back in wonder, trying to understand what’s going down though his participation might seem passive, his mind is active, and the few outbursts he ventures are weighted with the deliberation of a poet.

Andy is a man of many ideas, musical and personal. He’s also full of frustration at a world in which there are so many injustices. His contribution to changing it is through the music he sees as the almighty pacifier of evil. Andy’s ego is marked by a lack of the ego-game one-upmanship that gets in the way of so marry people. His presence is most often felt by his realness.

Like the man said – Andy is the wise old man, the one sitting back on the dock with his bare feet hoisted atop a soapbox, waiting for the fish to bite…………….. and that’s pretty groovy when you think about it!

© Jim DelehantHit Parader, August 1969

Leave a Comment