The Amboy Dukes

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The Amboy Dukes
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Years active1964–1975
Past members Ted Nugent
Dave Palmer
Steve Farmer
John Drake
Rick Lober
Bill White
Greg Arama
Andy Solomon
Rusty Day
K.J. Knight
Rob Ruzga
Rob Grange
Andy Jezowski
Vic Mastrianni
Gabriel Magno
Butch Giese

The Amboy Dukes were an American rock band formed in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, and later based in Detroit, Michigan. [1] They are known for their one hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind". [2] 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. [3]


The band went through a number of personnel changes during its active years, the only constant being lead guitarist and composer Ted Nugent. [2] The band transitioned to being Nugent's backing band before he discontinued the name in 1975.


Ted 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 [4] in the Chicago area in 1964, [5] playing at The Cellar, in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, among other venues. [6] They later relocated to Nugent's hometown of Detroit. The members included the following:

The above lineup did not release any recordings. Nugent's early guitar playing style with his signature Gibson Byrdland positioned high on his chest became an iconic playing style that visually differentiated him from other players. He combined this with his natural virtuosity and frenzied playing style on lead, adding a sonic differentiation to his unusual visual approach. This gave him an edge as a performance artist. Nugent's appreciation for his guitar inspired him to compose the song "Flight of the Byrd", which was released as a single and as part of their most popular album, Journey to the Center of the Mind . [2]

Band line-ups

The 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, with the exception of the 1972 band members:


After 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:


Journey to the Center of the Mind saw another member line-up:


Migration saw another line-up:


Marriage on the Rocks/Rock Bottom saw another line-up:


Survival of the Fittest Live was recorded using the following lineup. With only original member Nugent remaining, the band name changed to Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes:


In 1972, the band was in between record contracts and had two lineups that year:

Early summer lineup:

Late summer lineup:

This version of the band recorded some demos at Criteria studios in Florida, but they were never released.


Call of the Wild saw another line-up:


Tooth Fang & Claw saw the group's final lineup, carrying over most of the members from the previous album:

Liner notes also credit a “Rev. Atrocious Theodosius,” who was not a real person, on guitar and vocals.


The Amboy Dukes

Later happenings

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 Greg Arama died in 1979.[ citation needed ]

Steve Farmer later taught in Redford Township, Michigan. He also performed with backing bands at various venues in and around the Detroit area. Farmer died on April 7, 2020, aged 71. [7]

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.

In 2008, the Amboy Dukes were inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. [8]

2009 reunion

The original Amboy Dukes (featuring Nugent, Drake, Farmer, Lober, Solomon and White) performed on 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. This was 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". [9]


The Amboy Dukes' primary genres were psychedelic rock, [10] [11] acid rock [12] [13] and hard rock. [14] [15] The band is also considered to be proto-punk. [16]



Date of official release
US Chart
1967 The Amboy Dukes Mainstream S/6104183
1968 Journey to the Center of the Mind Mainstream S/611274
1969 Migration Mainstream S/6118no chart
1970 Marriage on the Rocks/Rock Bottom Polydor 24-4012191
1971 Survival of the Fittest Live Polydor 24-4035129
1973 Call of the Wild DiscReet DS 2181no chart
1974 Tooth Fang & Claw DiscReet DS 2203no chart


Date of official release
US Chart
Can Chart
1967Baby Please Don't Go/Psalms of AftermathMainstream 676106no chart
1968 Journey to the Center of the Mind/Mississippi MurdererMainstream 6841619
1968You Talk Sunshine, I Breathe Fire/Scottish TeaMainstream 693114no chart
1969Prodigal Man/Good Natured EmmaMainstream 700no chartno chart
1969For His Namesake/Loaded For BearMainstream 704no chartno chart
1969Flight of the Byrd/Ivory CastlesMainstream 711no chartno chart
1974Sweet Revenge/Ain't It the TruthDiscReet 1199no chartno chart

Other releases

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