The guitarist’s comments came during a recent interview on the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz. Asked about Roth, Nugent was initially complimentary.
“I admire and praise his entertainment gifts; he’s a monster,” the “Cat Scratch Fever” guitarist declared. “Tell me that all that David Lee Roth music with Van Halen isn’t a smile eruption in our life. I mean, what a fun, cocky, soulful guy. He really does evoke, emulate and deliver touches of James Brown and Wilson Pickett and some Motown melodious grunt, and certainly the blues and the gospel and the rhythm and blues masters. You can hear that in David Lee Roth.”
Nugent — who said he’d interacted with Roth “a few times” over the years — then went on to explain why he couldn’t have a “meaningful” conversation with the frontman.
“I’ve always been militantly against substance abuse. And it’s an absolute crime — literally and figuratively — and David’s a perfect example. Again, I love him — I hope he’s happy, I hope he’s healthy. He seems to know what happiness and health is; God bless him. Thank you, David, for enriching our lives with your incredible music. God bless you. But tragically — and this goes to Eddie [Van Halen] too, and my encounters with Jimi Hendrix and so many people — you couldn’t have a meaningful dialogue. It was all stoned disconnect.”
Nugent then compared his experience with Roth to the positive interactions he’d had with other artists.
“When I sat down with B.B. King and when I sit down with a Joe Perry and a Steven Tyler, even though there were moments when it was hopeless — there were moments… Sammy Hagar‘s a perfect example. We have a meaningful, man-to-man, human-to-human, fun, deep bullshit session, because he’s in tune with himself, and he’s real good at getting out of tune with himself. But my point is, I think it’s important to note that the incredible amount of hours that I’ve been honored and humbled to spend with some of the most powerful music authorities in the world, there was nothing to be shared because they were drunk or stoned… All those moments reinforce my anger and hate for people who leave the world to drop out comfortably numb. They don’t make anybody happy [when they do that].”
Ultimately, the Motor City Madman lamented his interactions with Roth, adding it would have been great if the two had been able to truly connect.
“Wouldn’t it have been great for a smart-ass like David Lee Roth and a smart-ass like Ted Nugent to discuss the art of smart-ass? I would have loved to have had that conversation, but there was no chance for it. The guy was out of his mind.”
Van Halen Albums Ranked
A ranking of every Van Halen album.