It was January 22nd, 1988 and a cold day in hell, save the KISS / Ted Nugent concert.
I was in college in upstate New York and somehow I had convinced my pal Doug to drive up from Phili to meet me for the show. He wasn’t, and still isn’t, even a fan really. Rather, just another casualty of the KISS Army fervor. He really deserves a commemorative badge of some sort as a civilian. Poor guy. It wasn’t his first or last KISS-related sortee.
We were literally 2nd & 3rd in line for the general admission show respectively and stood in the cold for what must have been at least 5 hours, braving bone chilling stupidity.
The guy first in line didn’t make it: he had been sipping Cold Gin (no bullshit!) from a bottle all afternoon, we even had a couple swigs! At one point he ran out so we saved his spot while he ran to get more. Anyway, right before they opened the doors of the Utica Memorial Auditorium, he was carted off drunk as the police station was literally directly across the street. They may have been watching him all day? We felt for him but the night was still young, and now we were first in line!
I have very little other recollections from the show beyond our cherry front row, dead center seats and our surprise ‘moment of clarity’ with Ted Nugent: We had rolled a number (or two) prior, stuffed’em in our socks and waited till the lights when down and Ted graced us with his edgy presence. An instant after partaking, we realized that we were way too close to Ted. He was on to us. He was just the cat to call us out over the mic to make some publicity, continuing his famed war against “anyone who wants to get mellow” as outlined on the Double Live Gonzo LP. We looked at each other wide-eyed and immediately snuffed it out in deference to the ‘Motor City Mad Man’.
Flash forward 10 years or so and I am working a show at Otto’s in DeKalb, IL with Ted and he asks if he can borrow a car. The promoter offers up my Jeep (WTF?!) and I say, concerned: “Where are you headed? …do know where you are at?”
Ted replied: “Of course I know where I am ….I’m the Motor City Madman, headed for Rockford kiddies!” As I walked him to my car I said: “hey Ted …fair warning, I’m a KISS fan ….you may wanna dial back the volume a bit before you turn the ignition?!”
Ted glanced at me with a rye grin ….“it never ends”.
A vivid re-telling of an epic journey to Utica. While some of those details remain a bit fuzzy for me, I distinctly remember the Nug hitting the stage with what looked like a recently “harvested” raccoon carcass hanging off his back end.