Morello discussed the unique relationship during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show.
“You might be surprised that Ted Nugent and I are good friends,” the Rage guitarist admitted when asked by Stern about separating an artist’s musical work from their politics. Morello then revealed how he and the Motor City Madman became pals.
“For his 60th birthday, someone reached out to me and said, ‘We’re making a video, and we’re asking guitar players [to record well wishes],” Morello explained. “At the time, the Ted Nugent that 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’. But then I had to think, ‘What is the video that I’m going to make for Ted’s birthday?’”
The Rage Against the Machine guitarist opted to make his video message 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,” Morello recalled. “And then the second was things that Ted Nugent taught an adolescent Tom Morello about sex. And 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.”
The message went over well with Nugent, who called Morello afterward to thank him for the video.
Morello is a proud liberal and self-described anarchist, with Rage Against the Machine being one of the strongest political voices in rock of the past 30 years. Nugent, on the other hand, is a passionate right-winger, and noted supporter of former president Donald Trump. Despite these seemingly opposite viewpoints, both rockers are able to maintain their friendship.
“While we certainly have differences, I consider [Nugent] a friend,” Morello admitted.
Watch Tom Morello discuss Ted Nugent with Howard Stern