By Sarah Bennett
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By Nate Jackson
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Motherfucker's got soul, man! He's almost as black as I am! Kenny Wayne Shepherd is another guy I love. And I love the Chili Peppers. I gotta meet Flea and kiss his fuckin' ass! And I also love Kid Rock.You're basically talking about what used to be called blue-eyed soul; white guys doing black music. I recently interviewed Mitch Ryder, king of blue-eyed soul and Detroit rock & roll . . .
[excitedly] Did you really?!? He's my hero! Really?!? Here's a little sideline, Buddy. I'm gonna be on VH1's The List next week, and it's gonna be about the greatest rock & roll band of all time. My inductee will be Billy Lee & the Rivieras. That was Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels before they changed their name. What'd he have to say?He was really pissed-off because the Detroit Free Press had recently published a list of the most important Michigan rockers of all time, and he wasn't on the list.
Here's the beauty of it: that same cunt who wrote that did a two-part series last year on the history of Detroit music. Dig this: that dirty cunt—Susan Whithall is her name, and she's got toxic vermin living in her pussy, I'm sure—she mentioned everything, even stuff I don't know about, and do you know whose name was not mentioned once?Yours?
[getting enraged] That's right. You wanna know why? She told her editors it was because I'm on the board of directors of the NRA and I kill innocent animals! You wanna tell me what that has to do with the history of Detroit music? But I don't get angry. I just get fuckin' even. Because meanwhile, 99 percent of the people she did mention couldn't get arrested today. Meanwhile, I set attendance records last year in Nebraska! Whether people admit it or not, I'm a fuckin' force to reckon with! I'm not a flash in the pan here, kids! Whatever your opinion is of Ted Nugent, you can't claim I don't exist!Give me your top five Detroit rock acts of all time.
I would put Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels as No. 1. I play a Gibson Birdland because of [Detroit Wheels guitarist] Jimmy McCarty. He was the all-time monster. And I would probably say the Funk Brothers [the nickname for Motown's staff of studio musicians] were No. 2. Oooh, they're so fuckin' good! They were the inspiration for everyone from Mitch to Bob Seger to the MC5. Then Ted Nugent and Bob Seger. And I feel terrible not mentioning the Supremes and Marvin Gaye. We're talking pillars of musical history. The Four Tops, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Martha & the Vandellas—my god, "Dancin' in the Street"? Get the fuck outta here!I'm guessing that because of their radical Leftist politics, you don't include the MC5 in your top five?
That's kind of a two-edged sword there. I loved the MC5—I was a big fan, and they reeked of all things defiant in rock & roll, but they were so stoned so much of the time that they never quite delivered the intellectual goods. I mean, like, the cohesion factor that made me mention Mitch Ryder's band.Mitch Ryder told me he was fucked-up all the time.
No, not in the early days. He might have done junk a little bit later. I'm really talking about the pure days, before any of that shit hit the streets.Does Alice Cooper qualify as Detroit rock in your book?
Absolutely! And I feel bad leaving Alice out because he's a pillar of rock & roll history as well.What about Iggy?
Iggy, I don't give him much credit for anything. The band couldn't play; there was no groove, no cohesion, no musicality to anything they did. It was kind of like a cheap vaudeville act. It was just trendy; it was just a pose. I generally dismiss Iggy Pop and the MC5.How do you feel about punk rock in general?
I feel that it was a feeble attempt at real rock, that it was posturing more than playing, which is the criticism I have for a lot of today's bands. A lot of fashion and very little virtuosity. It's like blacks that criticize their fellow blacks for learning how to speak English.When you're in Orange County, will you be meeting with Bob Dornan?
I probably should. I like Bob. Maybe that's something you might want to help me set up. He and I get along just fine. Common sense is both common and sensible. . . . Buddy, have you ever read any of my writing? I write for 28 publications.No, but I can look for some of your stuff online.
I wrote for John Kennedy's George magazine last year. John and his wife and my wife and I all got together. We were supposed to go duck hunting last fall, but of course we lost a great man. It was great because he made a personal call to me to thank me for the column and rave about the content.Again, it seems like your politics would have been at odds with his to the degree where you wouldn't have gotten along with each other.