35 Years Ago: Ted Nugent’s ‘Weekend Warriors’ Released
As the 70s rounded the final turn and barreled down the main stretch of classic rock’s golden era, arguably no star was shining brighter over American’s infinite heartland, possibly verging on supernova, than that of guitar hero Ted Nugent – he of the loincloth, lascivious grin, larger-than-life persona, and blazing fretboard-tickling fingers.
Already well established as one of America’s top grossing touring artists on the strength of his electrifying stage antics and a spate of radio-conquering hit singles, Nugent brought the best of both worlds together on 1978’s seminal four-sided live document, ‘Double Live Gonzo!,’ forever immortalizing the sheer power and lunacy of those late-’70s concerts on black wax.
Simply put, Nugent was on fire. His career was charging ahead much like the great white buffalo he had mythologized in song just a few years prior. Unfortunately, so was Ted’s oversized ego.
And so, seeing no room under those hot concert spotlights for anyone but himself, Nugent pushed out longtime rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist, Derek St. Holmes, who had contributed his singing talents, occasional songs (most notably ‘Hey Baby’) and, yes, even a little star power to the fledgling Ted Nugent band during their inexorable rise to greatness between ’75 and ’78.
Into St. Homes’ boots stepped another Michigan native, Charlie Huhn, and while his own talents would, at first, allow the Ted Nugent band to forge ahead without hardly missing a beat, history has shown that momentum – more so than music – is what carried that year’s ‘Weekend Warriors’ to platinum stature within a week of its September 1978 release.
Simply put, new songs like ‘One Woman,’ ‘Tight Spots’ and ‘Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine’ have hardly gone down in classic rock lore – just ask your average music lover who isn’t a complete Ted Nugent fanatic if they can recall them. And while ‘Weekend Warriors’ produced its fair share of highlights in the Huhn-sung title track and the urgent ‘Need You Bad’ (plus secondary standouts in ‘I Got the Feelin’’ and ‘Name Your Poison’) not even these have stood the test time like ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ or ‘Stranglehold’ have.
Instead, both ‘Weekend Warriors’ and Ted Nugent’s career began slipping from the charts not long after that initial, platinum burst of excitement. The following year’s ‘State of Shock’ LP would have to settle for Gold certification, 1980’s ‘Scream Dream’ barely that, and with the dawn of this new decade, Nugent’s commercial mojo was effectively and astonishingly spent – just like that.
But that should take nothing away from Ted’s remarkable late-‘70s winning streak while it lasted, even including the mixed results of ‘Weekend Warriors.’