Stranglehold

Album: Ted Nugent (1975)
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Songfacts®:

  • Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" is a song of defiance. He wrote it in response to the naysayers at record labels who turned him down.

    In a Songfacts interview with Nugent, he described it as "middle fingers on fire, telling the music industry that my music is way better than you can even imagine."

    "It's about my overt confidence in my music," he added. "The audience gave me that confidence by celebrating it and going nuts for it just like I do, and finally Tom Werman at Epic Records realized it, and 40 million albums later, the rest of the industry can kiss my ass."

    Nugent had some success in the '60s with his band The Amboy Dukes, which landed a hit with "Journey To The Center Of The Mind." The group continued into the '70s, rebranded as "Ted Nugent And The Amboy Dukes." They built up a passionate live following but didn't sell a lot of records - their albums in 1973 and 1974 didn't chart. So it was understandable when record labels showed little interest, but it was also myopic. "Stranglehold" was included on Nugent's self-titled 1975 album, his first as a solo artist. That live energy that gave record executives pause ended up making him one of the biggest acts of the late '70s, when his albums sold in the millions.
  • Nugent didn't sing lead on this song; Derek St. Holmes, who was the vocalist with his band, did. Nugent resented the attention Holmes received on stage and eventually sang all the hits himself. His explanation: "There's only one alpha wolf, and that's me."
  • "Stranglehold" is Ted Nugent's most popular song and a staple of his live shows. Like "Stairway To Heaven," it's a dynamic rocker the quickly became a fan favorite but was never released as a single. And also like "Stairway," it's very long, running 8:22.
  • Right up there with "Thunderstruck" as one of the most swaggering, guitar-driven rockers with manly appeal, the lyrics are rather violent, with the singer letting some poor girl know that he has the upper hand now and is willing to burn her house down if he has to. Nugent has made it clear that the vitriol in the song is metaphorical and directed at the music industry honchos that didn't believe in him.
  • According to Nugent, he's heard from many Americans in the military who have a connection to this song. "When they go to battle and they know there's going to be fire and danger, they play 'Stranglehold,'" he said. "Is there a more powerful connection to the most important people in the world who will go into a firefight for our freedom listening to my song?"

    Nugent holds the military in high esteem, but he wanted no part of it when he got drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. He showed up to the physical determined to fail, and he did, earning an exemption.
  • The band Cross Canadian Ragweed did a popular cover on their 2004 album Soul Gravy that appears after the last song as a secret song. They also used it to do band intros at their concerts.

    Other covers of "Stranglehold" include Marq Torien of BulletBoys for the 2001 album Bulletproof Fever: A Tribute to Ted Nugent, and Ministry on their 2010 compilation Every Day Is Halloween.
  • The song can be heard in a television commercial for the Volkswagen Jetta, which follows the history of a young guy's vehicle purchases from his first 10-speed bike to a questionably-legal speedster. Years later, now a doting dad, he chooses the Jetta after learning it is a 2012 IIHS Top Safety Pick.
  • This classic rocker features in a number of movies, including Bad News Bears, Dazed and Confused, Invincible, Rock Star and Superbad.

Comments: 38

  • Tedsux from MichiganNothing says "Alpha Wolf" more than during people because they feel insecure...or dodging the draft for that matter... Or for being a legal guardian to a teenager he was screwing... Or letting a 13 year old Courtney love give him a bj backstage at one of his concerts. Ted is 100 percent "Alpha Wolf" alright... Loser.
  • Thommy from From Up State Ny Now Living In Coloradobrings back good memory me & Kingly would jam that tune me on bass him on guitar will never forget summer evening 3 or 4 am.both amps cranked just kept keeping that bass line tight while my buddy gave it all he could guess it was one of those once in life time deals still think about it to this day was magical haunting.ole saying dont know what you got till its gone what id give to be able jam out with Kingsly now adays now that all i do is jam out yeah boys Stranglehold is on my top 5 list rock on kingsly see ya on the flip side soon enough i imagine
  • Bob from ColoradoStraight up, one of the meanest rock and roll songs ever. Life on the road, the women you meet, the ones you leave behind, all to a swirling, sexy guitar riff, thundering rhythm section and this group was always better with St. Holmes' pipes. This song practically encapsulates everything a great 70's rock song is supposed to be.
  • Fae Fae from AlaI don’t understand your negativity in this article? Anyway, I know you think we just know what you give us! WRONG! Ted Nugent is Still MAKING MUSIC GREAT!
  • Rebecka from Pevely Mo.Loved just about all his songs..
  • Dan B from ColoradoWho is Mona Cruz? Who is he referring to?
  • Iman Azol from Nova ScotiaThere's no conclusive evidence on Nugent dodging the draft. He held several ratings starting as eligible for the draft, and was ultimately deemed unfit, but his story as to why changes repeatedly and doesn't match the dates. It is a true statement that he was not drafted and didn't volunteer, but the actual facts on his 4F rating are not available.
  • Rick from ColoradoStranglehold was recorded in one take. One take.
  • Pamela from Macomab, MiI just saw Uncle Ted last night for the millionth time! I love the guy. He's songs are amazing, love Stranglehold, Great White Buffalo, Free For All, Hey Baby, and of course, Motorcity Mad House ~ but then again I'm from the Motor City so I'm a little biased. Its always funny to me how the some of the "Women's Groups" trash Ted yet when you go to the concerts the ladies are LOVING him! When it comes to Ted, I'm actually proud to say I'm from Detroit (and that's saying A LOT)!
  • Adrianne from Buffalo, NyPLEASE - what are the REAL lyrics to this song? Whoever put the lyrics up here REALLY got a lot of them wrong - a LOT of them. SO many, in fact, that all I really want to know is the last line of 2 verses, and are they the same words? First one starts with: "You ran the night that you left me." Last line of that verse is ....what? Certainly NOT "you better cross your way" the lyric that's posted here. Repeats again after the refrain "come on come on." The very last line of the song is... what? Again, NOT "you better cross your way." Just can't tell if they're the exact same words, or changed just a bit.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhRecently saw "Uncle Ted" Nugent in concert along with Styx & REO Speedwagon (2013). He still rocks. Years ago in the 70s, when I was about 18, my brother asked me to take him and his friends to a Nugent concert (with Cheap Trick). Seeing Nugent's live concert made me a fan. My husband and I laughed at all the f-bombs he drops and whether I agree with his opinion/politics or not, I love his passion and outspokeness. It's refreshing. "Stranglehold" is an iconic rock song and singing along to "come on, come on up...." and then screaming the last refrain...whoa, pure rock.
  • Patricia from Houston, TxStranglehold is one of the best songs EVA!!! Stands the test of time....will always rock. I never appreciated it when I let others influence what I listened to but once I really listened to it, OMG...way good song. LOVE IT!!
  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlTed's best song,in my opinion.BIG jam in the middle.Nice changes too.
  • Kymberli from Wellington, CoI cannot believe no one from Michigan has commented about my Uncle Ted! He was the first concert I went to...WHIPLASH BASH in 1990 on New Year's Eve! I've been turkey huntin' on his ranch in Leslie, MI, and my dad has received a few huntin' dogs from him. Great Hunter! He's definately the most energetic and crazy man I've ever known, for being completely drug-free...lol!
  • Anne from Orlando , FlI love this song, and love Ted. I grew up listening to his music, have seen him in concert and, enjoy the fact that he is "Crazy Uncle Ted". He plays a mean guitar, and the lyrics to Strangle Hold are, in my opinion, one of the best sex(y) songs of all time. I'm a Woman, I love dancing to it, and the Fems group can kiss my butt. Just because I am a woman (and straight) doesn't mean I can't appreciate a damn good beat and a man that can wail!
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkThink 10 and Bolero then think raw sex. A woman could be singing it to a man too. How's that for the ubersensitive womens' groups?
    All you goofballs who want to be selective about what amendments to the constitution . . . how long do you think your freedom of speech will last if the freedom to defend yourself? Defend and support all of it or leave.
    And it's not the lyrics but the kick-ass guitar and bass that make this a Nugent classic.
  • Bill from Los Angeles, CaI saw them in '76 in Offenbach, Germany at The Stadthalle. It was definately St. Holmes singing then.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InUber-macho song, and what a wailing solo from Uncle Ted!
    I must admit that St. Holmes really has great pipes on this, too.
  • Jp from Cincinnati, OhCan everyone please just comment on the music!...I look forward to seeing Ted next week in Cincinnati. He once played "Red House" by Hendrix as part of his encore...Nice touch!
  • Bam from London, CanadaLester, if u want to get rid of guns u might as well get rid of knives, and chainsaws and everything else that could possibly kill someone. Out of every trillion shots fired in america only one is fired illegaly.
  • Dale from Santa Fe, NmYou mean Legs and Tush were also criticized by women's groups? Oh me, oh my.

    Why not Strut, by Bob Seger then? geezzzus.
  • Anus Bung from Des Moines, Iated only says one line in the song, i don't think that is considered trading off
  • Bam from London, CanadaOne of the best riffs ever Nuge is a god!
  • Lester from New York City, NyMorgan, there are parts of the constitution that have been changed because Americans didn't want them anymore.
  • Bryan from Morgantown, KyNuge DOES sing on it. He trades vocal passages with St. Holmes...
  • Morgan from Weatherford, TxWhats wrong with being a proud NRA member? We have a right in the constitution to own weapons. Do we get rid of parts of the constitution just cause someone doesnt like it? Rick Derringer never sang this song. Deringer is the name of the man who made pocket pistols in the 1800s.
  • Stephen from KamloopsI heard that Rick Derringer sang the lead vocal, and it was so good that they named a gun after him (Derringer), which of course made Nugent happy.
  • Mike from Gettysburg, PaI've read that the vocals for Stranglehold were done by both St. Holmes and Nugent.
  • Jesse from Edison, NjSo on the studio Stranglehold song that I listen to, it's not Ted Nugent singing? What years did the Nuge do all main vocals and what years did he not?
  • Mike from Warwick, RiTed was a freak of nature and this song epitomizes his lifestyle..he still plays a mean axe....too bad he's a proud NRA member who carries guns and likes to push his values on people. Saw him live in 1984 with Blue Oyster Cult...Ted came onstage to play for Godzilla and Cities on Flame....awesome stuff.
  • Gary from Windsor, MoMeatloaf sang lead vocals on Free for All. This was after Derek St. Holmes was fired the first time. He was brought back for the Cat Scratch Fever albumn
  • Kathy from Stevensville, MdFYI,

    Derek St. Holmes is now singing with the Paul Reed Smith Band.
  • Mack from Terre Haute, In'Aynsley Dunbar (of Whitesnake fame)'

    You need to give Aynsley a bit more credit than that. He was the drummer for John Mayall and the Blusebreakers, Frank Zappa, Journey, and Jefferson Starship. He also did significant work with Bowie, Flo and Eddie, and Lou Reeed.
  • Mgjghh from Hghfghfg, MtTed is not your average guitar player. this song is not one of his best though.
  • Shane from Madison, WiI saw Ted play in a little bar in Marquette, MI., in 1980. He came in from his hunting camp and simply wanted to jam with the house bands instruments...it was freafing awesome. Only 15 of us in the bar...couldn't possibly get any better than that!
  • Todd from Denver, CoI saw him first with the Damn Yankees (twice) and then finally solo a couple years ago opening for KISS. He had just a three piece with Aynsley Dunbar (of Whitesnake fame) on drums, I believe. I thought his vocals stood up well, and his guitar work was great. They played tight.
  • Ben from Aguadilla, United Statesdont worry brian i thought the same way....dude but who cares the guitar kicks ass!!!!!
  • Brian from Paoli, InDamn I feel like an idiot, I could have swore the Nuge sang. When you see him and you hear the voice, it looks like that's how he would sing lol. Well none the less, he had some AMAZING guitar work here. Great song.
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