Great White Buffalo

Album: Tooth Fang & Claw (1974)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This Ted Nugent composition became a staple of his live set; it is not dissimilar in content from the later Thin Lizzy track "Genocide (The Killing Of The Buffalo)," although while with the latter, Phil Lynott was writing from an historical perspective, for Nugent it is more personal. A great admirer of Native American culture, one of the hallmarks of his lifestyle is hunting his dinner with a bow and arrow - Ted has never been your regular rock star! >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Nugent makes a cogent argument on this song about the need to respect animals to ensure their survival. He explains how Native Americans used every part of the animals they killed, and buffalo thrived. When the white man came, he killed buffalo for profit, which dwindled their population. In this song, the great white buffalo is the hero, appearing to lead his herd.

    Many of Nugent's songs have lyrics about sex or nonsense, but he maintains that some contain relevant commentary, although the statements often got lost in the riffs. He said in a 1979 interview with NME: "Maybe some people will listen to 'Great White Buffalo' and realize that you can't market animals and expect them to be around for ever, but I don't think so. I think they listen to 'Great White Buffalo' and they listen to the guitar riff."

    In later years, Nugent became a mouthpiece for gun rights and other conservative issues. Always an avid hunter, his views are often at odds with animal rights supporters, but they might find common ground in this song.
  • The original recording appeared on Tooth Fang & Claw, the seventh and final album from Nugent's group The Amboy Dukes (credited to "Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes"). Nugent went solo after the album's release and issued a steady stream of albums that sold very well throughout the '70s. As he built up his repertoire with hits like "Stranglehold" and "Cat Scratch Fever," "Great White Buffalo" - ignored for the most part when it was first released - found new life and became a rock radio favorite.
  • Recorded in June 1974, Ted Nugent is credited as the writer on this track, and he shares credit for the arrangement with with Amboy Dukes bass player Rob Grange. According to Nugent, the riff came to him while he was tuning up his guitar. They captured it on tape and quickly recorded the song, with Nugent writing the lyric on the spot.
  • Live, "Great White Buffalo" sees Nugent soloing extensively and freely. In 1982, he told biographer Robert Holland that this was one of his favorite (of his own) songs.

Comments: 3

  • Tedstranglehold from UsofaBow and arrow was the Native American way, not guns. His pervy lyrics are really disgusting knowing he slept with underage girls. But stick up for him, he is your role model Sweatyteddy. Good for you. Ted and Weinstein should be cell mates.
  • Sweatyteddy from UsaApparently Jim doesn't know what feral hogs do to the habitat, and that hog hunts that are carried out in such away are necessary for the region to remain inhabitable by hundreds to thousands of other species of wildlife and vegetation. But yeah, let's take one situation out of context to try and destroy Ted's character, because you can't grasp simple ecology.
  • Jim from UsaWith videos of him machine-gunning hogs from a helicopter and an obsession with killing for pleasure, I can't match the theme of this song with Nugent the wildlife serial killer. Either he lost his morals on the way to becoming a full-blown wingnut, or he was a hypocrite all along.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Charlie Benante of Anthrax

Charlie Benante of AnthraxSongwriter Interviews

The drummer for Anthrax is also a key songwriter. He explains how the group puts their songs together and tells the stories behind some of their classics.

Eric Burdon

Eric BurdonSongwriter Interviews

The renown rock singer talks about "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."

We Will Rock You (To Sleep): Pop Stars Who Recorded Kids' Albums

We Will Rock You (To Sleep): Pop Stars Who Recorded Kids' AlbumsSong Writing

With the rise of Kindie rock, more musicians are embracing their inner child with tunes for tots - here, we look at pop stars who recorded kids' albums.

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Jon Foreman of SwitchfootSongwriter Interviews

Switchfoot's frontman and main songwriter on what inspires the songs and how he got the freedom to say exactly what he means.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell BluesSong Writing

When a song describes a wedding, it's rarely something to celebrate - with one big exception.