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The Amboy Dukes
(Read all about the Amboy Dukes after the video)
The Amboy Dukes were an American rock band formed in 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, best known for their one hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind". The band's name comes from the title of a novel by Irving Shulman. In the UK the group's records were released under the name of The American Amboy Dukes because of the existence of a British group with the same name.
The band went through a number of personnel changes during its active years, the only constant being lead guitarist and composer Ted Nugent. The band transitioned to being Nugent's backing band before he discontinued the name in 1975. The group contributed to the foundations of heavy metal and progressive rock. The group's primary genres were psychedelic rock, acid rock and hard rock.
OriginsTed Nugent, the nucleus of The Amboy Dukes, was born and raised in Detroit and started performing in 1958 at age 10. He played in a group called The Royal High Boys from 1960 to 1962 and later in group named The Lourds, where he first met future Amboy Dukes lead vocalist John Drake. Nugent played with The Lourds until his family moved to Illinois, where he founded The Amboy Dukes in the Chicago area in 1964, playing at The Cellar, in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, among other venues. They later relocated to Nugent's hometown of Detroit. The members included the following:
- Ted Nugent (lead guitar)
- Bob Lehnert (vocalist) - who released a single "Better Than Today" with the band Acrobat in 1972.
- Gary Hicks (guitar, vocals)
- Dick Treat (bass, vocals)
- Gail Uptadale (drums)
Band line-upsThe following are lists of band member line-ups that received credits on officially released studio albums. Members who may have played with the band at live dates between albums are not included:
1967After a band shuffle for signing a deal with Mainstream Records of New York City, the band members who released their debut album, The Amboy Dukes, were:
- Ted Nugent (lead guitar, vocals)
- John Drake (vocals) ex-The Lourds
- Steve Farmer (guitar, vocals) ex-The Gang
- Dave Palmer (drums) ex-The Galaxy Five, ex-The Citations
- Rick Lober (keyboards)
- Bill White (bass, vocals)
1968Journey to the Center of the Mind saw another member line-up:
- Ted Nugent (lead guitar, vocals)
- John Drake (vocals)
- Steve Farmer (guitar, vocals)
- Dave Palmer (drums)
- Andy Solomon (organ, piano, vocals) ex-The Apostles
- Greg Arama (bass) ex-The Gang
Nugent went on to have a successful solo career in the 1970s and joined the Damn Yankees supergroup in the late 1980s. Since the 2000s, Nugent (although continuing his rock career) has been a prominent activist, both for hunting and for conservative politics.
Vocalist Rusty Day joined The Detroit Wheels, replacing Mitch Ryder as lead vocalist. Under Day, that band was renamed "Detroit;" it disbanded in 1974. He then returned to his previous band, Cactus, in 1976, playing with them until 1979. After turning down offers to front AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd after the deaths of those bands' respective lead singers, Day was shot dead in 1982.
Bassist Rob Grange gelled with Nugent on the last two Dukes albums and went forward with him to help create the first four platinum albums of Nugent's solo career.
Bassist Greg Arama died in 1979.
Steve Farmer currently teaches in Redford Township, Michigan. He also performs with backing bands at various venues in and around the Detroit area.
Rick Lober is a classically trained composer best known in the greater Detroit metro area for his frenetic style of keyboard playing. Since the early 1990s, he has been in and out of the studio, appearing as performer/songwriter on the Steve Farmer CD Journey to the Darkside of the Mind (Saint Thomas Records, STP0069) completed in 2000. He is currently working in the studio and performing live with local Detroit rock legend Jeffrey Faust and his band "The Woodsman", which performs throughout Michigan and Canada.
The original Amboy Dukes (featuring Nugent, Drake, Farmer, Lober, Salomon and White) performed April 17, 2009 at the Detroit Music Awards at The Fillmore Detroit. Their performance began with the song "Baby Please Don't Go", from their 1967 debut single. Followed by "Journey to the Center of the Mind", and ending with Mitch Ryder's "Jenny Take A Ride" (featuring original Ryder drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek). In recognition of the band's contribution to rock music history, they received a Distinguished Achievement award. As the band left the stage, Nugent thanked all his fellow band members and told the crowd "And everyone knows that The Amboy Dukes are the ultimate garage band on planet earth".