Chud Rock City: Detroit’s Rockin’ Reactionaries
Following the lineage of Bob Seger to Ted Nugent to Kid Rock as Michigan rock legends that found success extolling the virtues of the worst the US has to offer.
Though now considered a long-dead metropolis, Detroit once set the world on fire with undeniably classic American music. The Motor City has a rich musical history that few towns can match. The Motown Records catalog alone, with releases from Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, and Stevie Wonder, accounts of hundreds of stone cold timeless R&B songs. Detroit native Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” helped break Rock n’ Roll into the mainstream and then give the genre it’s once-rebellious edge via inclusion in Blackboard Jungle (the proto-Dangerous Minds). Detroit is the birthplace of the genre we once knew as Techno before it morphed and pitch-shifted into a million electronic sub-genres. And of course we cannot forget the city’s hip hop tradition that includes such critically acclaimed acts like J-Dilla and Danny Brown as well the critically reviled but personally adored Insane Clown Posse. But somewhere along the way, a group of white artists emerged from Detroit’s melting pot to rant and rave over hard rawkin’ music with a specifically aggrieved tenor. Our suspects include two classic rock icons and one rapper turned nu-metaller turned classic rock revivalist.
I know what you’re thinking. Bob Seger?! Mister Old Time Rock n’ Roll himself? From all those parodies of Risky Business because no one under the age of 50 has ever actually seen Risky Business? Yes, that’s the fella. Bob Seger was born in Detroit but ran away to California when he was a child. Eventually he returned to his hometown and began his career with a crew of other Rock N’ Rollers – first with The Decibels, then the Town Criers, before eventually joining Doug Brown & The Omens. Doug Brown and company had an odd sense of humor and a poor sense of what legally constitutes parody. This band released a single called “The Ballad of the Yellow Beret” under the moniker The Beach Bums and written by one “D. Dodger” (that would stand for Draft Dodger in case you stupid liberals didn’t catch the joke). Bob himself actually sang the tune.
“The Ballad of the Yellow Beret” was a play off of Barry Sadler’s immensely popular “Ballad of the Green Berets”. Bob’s version of the tune roasts the shit out of all those goddamned hippie draft dodgers that didn’t want to die in a jungle in Vietnam. Though the Vietnam War was historically unpopular, we must remember that a large segment of American society will support any war for just about any reason whatsoever. The cavalcade of troop-worshipping country hits from the first decade or so of the Iraq war was not a fluke. Back in the 60s, a handful of artists made bank by writing jingoistic ditties for the hard-nosed warmongers of the day. In addition to Bob Seger’s novelty track, there was also “The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley” – perhaps the most offensive song I know (and folks, I know a lotta offensive songs). It was a defense of William Calley, an Army officer convicted of 22 counts of murder in the My Lai massacre. It was released by Plantation Records and sold over 2 million copies because America is a bottomless pit of shame.
Eventually, Barry Sadler put the kibosh on Bob Seger’s fun little experiment in punching left by filing a cease and desist. Soon, Bob would strike out on his own and release an anti-Vietnam war track a few years later. He now considers himself a “proud centrist” which somehow makes him leagues better than the other two shitbags on this list.
Born in Detroit, Nugent moved on over to neighbor state Illinois and cut his teeth with The Amboy Dukes. He achieved a level of fame playing guitar with a bunch of longhairs that sang songs about psychedelic drugs, paid musical tribute to Martin Luther King, and were in the good graces of Frank Zappa. Eventually they resettled to Michigan, dropped The Amboy Dukes as a moniker and simply used Ted’s name. As the band generated hits, all solely credited to Ted despite the rest of his band having full involvement, Ted began became bolder and brasher in his personal life and public statements.
The Motor City Madman, a lifelong straightedge advocate (except for all that crystal meth), told High Times Magazine that he went to absurd lengths to dodge the draft. He admitted to having numerous sexual relationships with underaged girls (or “statutory rape” if you prefer brevity). He fathered children and immediately gave them up for adoption but he also adopted a 17-year old girl so that he could continue to have sex with her without getting in trouble with the law. Staring in the 90s, he fashioned himself into something of a right wing manly man, constantly declaring his love of weaponry and his hated of democrats. Famously, he gave a defense of apartheid, claimed that we should have dropped nuclear weapons on Iraq, and made dozens of threats against Barack Obama. He’s a vile, hateful old bastard (or “a bog-standard republican” if you prefer brevity). Fortunately, he has mostly been forgotten by the music press and is considered a pariah in polite society.
His name is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB. It’s Bob Ritchie. Born in Romeo, an affluent exurb of the Motor City, Kid Rock developed an interest in Hip Hop at an early age. With a combination of hard work, talent, industry connections, and his family’s wealth, he worked his way up through the ranks and emerged as a popular rapper in the Detroit area that did not in any way rip off Tone Loc mercilessly.
Despite working diligently for years, he failed to develop the mainstream success he desired so he added a lil’ nü to the sound with the help of Lava Records. The result, Devil Without a Cause, sold 14 million records. Emboldened by his success with a new audience of almost entirely white dudes, Kid Rock completely abandoned the music he appropriated for a decade and leaned into being a Rock N’ Roller. With further success from an acoustic ballad with fuckin’ Sheryl Crow, Rock found an even more lucrative audience in Bro Country and embraced it with arms wide open (like the sex tape he filmed with Scott Stapp in which the pair bangs hookers).
With the freedom of performing solely for men named “Army” and “Gun”, Kid Rock draped himself in the Confederate flag and said to FOX’s Megyn Kelly, “Please tell the people who are protesting to kiss my ass”. He supported the endless war in Iraq, led crowds to chant, “Fuck Colin Kaepernick”, and sold Trump-supporting merch – all wise business moves to further his right wing credentials and sell more records to aggrieved whites. Kid Rock was born a rich white boy, exploited a genre pioneered by poor blacks, and promptly abandoned all that shit when it was financially prudent. He is your cousin’s favorite artist and will likely win political office should he ever run.