Ted Nugent always exchanged indignation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if someone constantly provokes articles with the word “repulsive”, “unforgivable” or “inflammatory” in the title, they are probably doing it on purpose. Before social media gave him access to millions around the world, Nugent relied on music to stir up controversy, and that’s precisely what he did with his 1981 single “Jailbait.” .
By the late 1970s, Nugent probably realized that his reputation as a guitar hero among hard rock fans offered plenty of opportunity for scandal. There has long been an association between mainstream rock musicians and non-consensual sex with minors. Nugent played on this in ‘Jailbait’, which includes the following line: “Well, I don’t care if you’re only thirteen / You look too good to be true /
I just know you’re probably clean.
In 1981, Nugent was 32 and already considered one of rock’s most unsavory figures, a reputation he exploited to secure his presence in the music press. Her Intensities in 10 cities album was deliberately fabricated to generate maximum outrage and publicity. It will come as no surprise to learn that the track immediately after ‘Jailbait’ is called ‘Predator’.
Nugent made a concerted effort to portray himself as a contemporary morality destroyer, reminding listeners that he had “no inhibitions” and would happily sleep with prepubescent girls even if it led to his arrest. “Wait a minute officer / Don’t put them handcuffs on me,” he sings in the final verse, “Put ’em on her and I’ll share her with you.”
It’s easy to dismiss it all as a bad joke, but Nugent’s actions just a few years before the song’s release imply that he may have invested more in the lyrics of “Jailbait” than previously thought. . Just two years before Nugent recorded the song, he became the legal guardian of 17-year-old Pele Massa, who he was also in a relationship with. During an interview on VH1 behind the music, he explained that his parents consented to the arrangement, which gave Nugent legal rights over a girl considered a minor in several U.S. states. “I guess they were thinking more of Ted Nugent than some drug-infested high school punk,” he said.
More recently, Courtney Love claimed she performed oral sex on Nugent when she was around 12 years old. “I didn’t have breasts yet, she says, it’s sick”. This allegation allegedly took place around the time of Nugent’s 29th birthday; In other words, less than two years before the release of ‘Jailbait’. When allegations of non-consensual sex with underage girls surfaced during one of Nugent’s live streams, he scoffed and replied, “Chris Farley did the same, Jimi Hendrix and all. Jim Morrison, all. It’s this understanding of sex with young groupies as somehow part of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that makes ‘Jailbait’ so disturbing. The song’s lyrics shine a light on something everyone knows but refuses to address: that music’s most revered icons have repeatedly abused their power for sexual gratification.
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