I remember attending a KISS concert several years back at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Ted Nugent was the opening act, and by the early 2000s, he already had a well earned reputation for saying terrible crap at least as often as playing he played "Cat Scratch Fever." On that particular evening, the Motor City Madman made a comment insulting Hispanics, saying that immigrants who didn't speak English should go back to wherever they'd came from. I remember thinking that was an odd and ugly bit of crowd banter from a man who'd penned such romantic ballads as "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang." Apparently others did too, because it resulted in him being temporarily banned from playing the venue.
Ted Nugent is probably more famous for being a vocal right wing commentator these days than a rock star, but at one point the guy was one of the most popular musicians in the world. I like his first solo album, and consider it a high point of early '70s hard rock. Although that's about the only music from Nugent that I really enjoy, it's hard for me to listen to it today, and not also wrestle with conflicting feelings about who he seems to be as a person.
He's not the only famous artist I have that conflicted feelings about either. It's sad, but LOTS of people whose artistry I love, have done some really horrible crap over the years, and some of it is impossible for me to just rationalize away. This isn't a case of some famous person caught being rude, or acting like an entitled prick. Sadly most of them seem to act that way from time to time. Here are a few of the artists who have done some horrible things in their personal lives, but who still have fans and defenders because the music or movies they've created are great.
4. Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page was in Led Zeppelin, one of the bands that has shaped the basic fantasy of what many think of when they visualize hard rock excess. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll may have been the expectation from most hard rockers in the late '60s and early 1970s, but Jimmy Page knowingly carried on a "relationship" with a 14-year-old girl named Lori Maddox when he was 29. In "Hammer of The Gods," the unauthorized biography of the band, Maddox recalled being approached by the band's manager Peter Grant, and being kept at a hotel for several days, for Page to enjoy. Maddox was what some people called a "baby groupie" - really young teens who were actively trying to hook up with older rock stars. The fact that Page was willing to pursue her is pretty horrible, and was definitely against the law in 1973. Sadly, he was far from the only star up to that kind of thing.
3. Ted Nugent.
I couldn't let the Nuge off with just the anecdote in the intro to this article, because long before The Motor City Madman had reinvented himself into some sort of conservative commentator, he was a huge star and up to all sorts of creepy and possibly criminal behavior. The same man who once written a song called "Jailbait" seems to have had some first hand knowledge about the subject. When he was 30, Nugent talked the parents of a 17 year old girl named Pele Massa into allowing him to become her legal guardian, presumably so that he wouldn't get into any legal hot water for having a sexual relationship with her. More horrific is the revelation that he may have received oral sex from none other than Courtney Love when she was 12 years old. Love made the accusation in an interview, disgusted by the idea, and noting she hadn't even developed breasts yet. Of course, an accusation isn't evidence or proof of anything, but when asked about the incident, Nugent notably said he didn't remember it happening, which seems like a weird way to sidestep a question about sexually abusing a girl, and isn't exactly a denial either.