Joan Jett Deflects Ted Nugent Criticism, Cites 1977 High Times Interview

Ted Nugent slammed Rolling Stone for including Joan Jett in the magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, but she defended herself.
Joan Jett
Courtesy of Shutterstock

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.

  1. Ted Nugent is a far better Guitar Player than Joan Jett could even imagine being…
    He should be near to top 25 I would say and You can watch listen compare many different songs between the two and it will be very obvious to even the most basic Music and or Guitar playing People …

  2. Put down the hookah, sir. Nugent has gone on Record since the hoopla started to state he wasn’t lamenting his own exclusion, but rather that of several other guitarists such as Derek St Holmes. If you’re gonna write an article in the days of the 3 hour news cycle, at least get it right.

  3. I’d like to hear a song joanjett wrote TedNugent is a true artist he’ll knock the balls off a buffalo at a hundred and fifty paces with his Gibson byrdland!

  4. You should at least post all of what he said. He was very complementary of her as an artist, just not as a Top 100 guitar player……and he is 100% correct in that assertion.

  5. All for Joan, congrats. Not a fan of Ted, now or ever, stranglehold and cat scratch are hardly the epitome of Rock n Roll anyhow. But, I wouldn’t slight anyone for dodging the draft to stay out of Vietnam. Soil yourself, drugs, whatever. Better than being shipped off to die for manufactured reasons.

  6. Ted may have been a 70s shredder, but he turned out to be a hateful, neocon, RINO buttlicker, gaslighting everyone who didn’t worship the loser John McCain. A misogynistic, mullet rocking bully redneck, who poses as a libertarian/constitutionalist, but is actually a NWO-bush stooge. An arrogant, fear-spewing, close minded white douche. All ego, no heart nor brain, just gun powder and Bill O’Reily’s spunk between his ears. “Their all dead but I’m still Ted”. He’s a goofy ole slandering agro fart, he needs to re-read the United States Constitution. A RINO.

  7. With all his great white hunter bravado why didn’t Ted just shoot himself in the foot like a real man ala Greg Allman.

  8. Say what you want you can not compare Joan and Ted, Ted can play circles around her with one hand. He is a dick though. How she made the top 100 guitar players is a mystery. Obviously, the people that made this list have no clue. So many fantastic guitar players. Can any truly say she’s a better player than Steve Vai, John 5, Paul
    Gilbert, Tommy Shaw, Ann Wilson etc…..all of which would make her look like a fool. She would be better off on the top 100 song writers.

  9. To include Joan Jett in a list of the Top 100 Guitarists while pointedly excluding Ted Nugent is all the evidence you need that Rolling Stone places politics far ahead of music in their writing and editorializing. And I say this as a huge Joan Jett fan. She is a great performer but she really not even in Ted’s league in terms of her guitar playing abilities. Ted should have been in the RRHOF years ago but he never will be because he doesn’t toe the line politically and socially.

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