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We Can All Learn From Tom Morello + Ted Nugent’s Friendship

Ollie Millington/Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Ollie Millington/Rick Diamond, Getty Images

When it comes to politics, Tom Morello and Ted Nugent could not be further apart on the spectrum. However, the two have become close friends over the years, setting an example for how diametrically opposed individuals can still share common ground.

Rage Against the Machine‘s guitarist recently guested on The Howard Stern Show, speaking about his involvement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, meeting Chris Cornell and practicing guitar for four hours each day while studying at Harvard. The activist musician also filled Stern in on his seemingly unlikely friendship with right-wing stalwart Nugent.

“For his 60th birthday, someone reached out to me and said, ‘We’re making a video, and we’re asking guitar players [to say a few kind words]. At the time, the Ted Nugent which was sort of known in the world in general was this kind of more right-wing caricature — people were not thinking of him, first and foremost, as the guy who shredded on ‘Stranglehold,’” Morello says.

“But then I had to think, ‘What is the video that I’m going to make for Ted’s birthday?’ And I put some thought into it, and I said, ‘It’s gonna be about two things. One, it’s gonna be things that Tom Morello and Ted Nugent have in common,’ and I went down this long list of [things like] free-speech advocates, our love of rock and roll, our respect for black artists who created rock and roll. And then the second was things that Ted Nugent taught an adolescent Tom Morello about sex.”

The guitarist continued, “Then I went through ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ — these strange words, like the lyrics to the song ‘Cat Scratch Fever’, the lyrics to the song ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’, which were utterly foreign to me, and I had to ask about on the playground. Anyway, so Ted called me up after that. And while we certainly have differences, I consider him a friend.” [via Blabbermouth]

Tom Morello on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and His Friendship with Ted Nugent

While speaking with Guitar World in 2019, Nugent professed a similar respect to Tom Morello, stating, “You know who my genuine American blood brother is? Tom Morello. Wayne Kramer, too. I love these guys. These are my friends. At least I hope they’re my friends. I think they’re my friends! I think they would tell you I’m their friend. And we couldn’t be more opposite politically.”

During a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Morello described dynamics which could certainly pull his friendship with Nugent apart. “We have very similar views on freedom of speech. His libertarian edge and my anarchist edge overlap considerably,” Morello said. “Sometimes, if he says something outrageous that will fire up his racist base, I’ll text him to say, ‘Dude. What are you on about?’ We’re able to talk about it as friends as opposed to people on the opposite sides of the barricade.”

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