Ted Nugent, then 17, formed the band when he moved to Chicago in the 60's. Nugent had heard of a Detroit Rolling Stones cover band called Amboy Dukes that had just broken up, and took the name for his new band. The Detroit Amboy Dukes had actually themselves stolen the name from a Brooklyn street gang of the same name (see Louis Buchalter). A book called The Amboy Dukes about gang lifestyle was also made. In interviews Ted Nugent said he has been given the book on many occasions but still hasn't gotten around to reading it.
The Amboy Dukes released a number of albums with Mainstream Records. Having run their course with Mainstream Records, they signed with Polydor Records around 1970. At this time Amboy Dukes song titles would display such period flavor as "Why Is a Carrot More Orange Than an Orange" and "The Inexhaustible Quest for the Cosmic Cabbage"; the latter number was a multi-part epic that incorporated both Béla Bartók and The Beach Boys.
The band quickly grew tired of Polydor Records and signed with Frank Zappa's DisCreet (Warner Brothers) label. They released two more albums and then broke up.
While the other Amboy Dukes receded into obscurity, Nugent, as the "Motor City Madman", became a very successful and quite visible solo musician, hunter, and political controversialist.
The disparity in career outcomes has led to differing recollections among the former Dukes about what happened during the band's lifetime. Nugent claims to have been the leader of the band, and at times the "babysitter" for the rest of the band, and that when he took a few months off the band fell apart. And despite the apparent drug references of many of their songs, Nugent fervently denies significant drug use.
The other members of the band, such as Steve Farmer, viewed the band differently. They say guitarist Farmer and singer Drake were the main songwriters and the de facto leaders of the Amboy Dukes; Nugent was not the "leadman". In an interview , Farmer deprecated Nugent's creative role in the Amboy Dukes, and mentioned some rather embarrassing personal details about Nugent. From Farmer's point of view, Nugent was the one who needed babysitting - he was a spoiled brat and none too intelligent. Farmer did emphasize that Nugent was the only member not involved in drug activity and promiscuous sex with groupies, so on that matter everyone is in agreement.
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