Joan Jett stated her case in a new interview with NME—citing a wild conversation Ted Nugent had with High Times in 1977.
Rolling Stone included Jett as #87 in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time, which was originally published in 2003. Last December, Nugent—who didn’t make the list—slammed the decision to include Jett in the list.
“You have to have shit for brains and you have to be a soulless, soulless prick to put Joan Jett [on the list],” Nugent said during a livestream on his YouTube account on December 30, 2021.
Jett fired back months later, defending her status as one of the greatest guitarists, and explaining that Nugent’s attack was a poor choice of words based on past interviews.
“Is that his implication,” Jett asked NME, “that he should be on the list instead of me? Well, that’s just typical—it’s what I’ve dealt with my whole life, being written off. Ted Nugent has to live with being Ted Nugent. He has to be in that body, so that’s punishment enough.”
“He’s not a tough guy,” she continued. “He plays tough guy, but this is the guy who shit his pants—literally—so he didn’t have to go in the Army.”
The 1977 Ted Nugent x High Times Interview
Jett was alluding to Nugent’s infamous 1977 interview, first published in High Times, but frequently cited. In 1977, Nugent was at the peak of his fame with his biggest hit “Cat Scratch Fever.”
When High Times writer Glenn O’Brien interviewed young Ted Nugent in 1977—like many other old-school High Times articles—the interview went off the rails at times. Nugent said he avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War in 1967 by dropping his own personal hygiene and dabbling in drugs to appear like a hobo.
“I got my physical notice 30 days prior to [being drafted],” Nugent told High Times. “Well, on that day I ceased cleansing my body. No more brushing my teeth, no more washing my hair, no baths, no soap, no water. Thirty days of debris build. I stopped shavin,’ and I was 18, had a little scraggly beard, really looked like a hippie. I had long hair, and it started gettin’ kinky, matted up.”
Nugent continued, “Then two weeks before, I stopped eating any food with nutritional value. I just had chips, Pepsi, beer—stuff I never touched—buttered poop, little jars of Polish sausages, and I’d drink the syrup, I was this side of death. Then a week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. Poop, piss the whole shot. My pants got crusted up.”
Nugent also explained that he was typically “extremely anti-drug” but “I snorted some crystal methedrine” in order to avoid the draft, which is ironic considering his long-held stance on drugs.
Nugent is indeed still anti-drug nowadays, and said as recently as 2018 that he’s “hardcore” against pot. “I have stepped over so many dead bodies who tried to convince me that smoking dope was a victimless crime,” Nugent said in an interview on WKAR’s “Off The Record.”
What Really Happened
So where did the story about getting out of Vietnam come from in the first place? According to an updated autobiography, Kenny Mills, a drummer who goes by the stage name of KJ Knight, claims that it was he—not Nugent—who “used wild antics” at the Selective Service physical and was quickly dismissed from serving. Knight was a prolific drummer in bands like The Knightriders and The Amboy Dukes with Nugent.
According to military records, and reported by Fact Checker and the Reno Gazette Journal, Nugent got a student deferment, which is not “draft dodging” given that he showed up for the medical exam.
Nugent later admitted that some of the story was made up in later interviews. Nugent got a high school student deferment (1-S) in 1967, a college student deferment (2-S) in 1968, and after being reclassified for military service (1-A) in 1969, Nugent was rejected as a result of a physical examination (1-Y) in 1969 and reportedly received a 4-F classification.
Student deferments are a legal means of avoiding service in the military—you know, the same method that Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly, and Bill Clinton used to get out of the Vietnam War.
In any case, Nugent’s criticism of Jett was probably done without remembering his infamous High Times interview decades ago.