It's not every day that you hear Ted Nugent, the guitar-wielding, conservative icon, singing the praises of the experimental jazz of Sun Ra. At first glance, they seem like an unlikely pair. Nugent, known for his conservative politics and hard-driving rock music, and Sun Ra, known for his avant-garde jazz and Afrofuturist philosophy, may seem worlds apart. But upon closer examination, there are indeed similarities between the two.
For starters, they both have a penchant for discipline and respect for tradition. Nugent's music, known for its hard-driving, no-holds-barred attitude, is rooted in a deep reverence for the roots of the roots of his genre. Listen to the riff from Cat Scratch Fever and you can hear the blues. Similarly, Sun Ra's music, while experimental and boundary-pushing, was also steeped in the heritage of jazz masters like Count basie. Also, his Afrofuturist philosophy emphasized the importance of tradition and history.
But it's not just their music that aligns, their spiritual beliefs also run parallel. Nugent's conservative political views are rooted in a belief in a higher power, while Sun Ra's Afrofuturism was heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian spiritual beliefs. Both Nugent and Sun Ra's music and ideologies are reflections of their deep spiritual convictions.
So, it's not as strange as it may seem that Nugent, the hard-rocking, conservative musician, would find common ground with Sun Ra, the avant-garde jazz bandleader. In the 1970s, when Nugent was filling arenas with his guitar riffs and Sun Ra was filling art galleries with his cosmic sounds, they both were on a journey of self-discovery and self-expression, and that's something that I think almost everyone can relate to.
"I'm aware of Yusef Lateef and Sun Ra and John Coltrane. My music cup runneth over. I try to encourage people: don't cut anything off, don't limit yourself. Give it a good listen: you might find something in that goofy Sun Ra noise, that dissonance. Before I learned 'official musicality' - which you should avoid at all costs - I listened to some Sun Ra and Yusef Lateef and John Coltrane and that's where 'Journey to the Center of the Mind' came from. When you intentionally and aggressively pursue musical communication with those powerfully impactful musical geniuses, you will pick up something." - Ted Nugent