Arts & Entertainment

Ted Nugent to Perform in Montclair Amid Controversy

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Credits: Courtesy of AP
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MONTCLAIR, NJ – Ted Nugent is an American rock musician known as the former vocalist for the Amboy Dukes as well as his solo work. Nugent, also known for his outspoken positions on hunting, conservation, and gun ownership rights, has a planned performance at Montclair’s Wellmont Theatre on July 22.

Outspoken in his support for the right to bear arms and hunting, Nugent is no stranger to controversy. A National Rifle Association (NRA) board member and strong supporter of the Republican Party, he has also had a period of his career in working as a Reality TV star and VH1 show host.

The Wellmont Theater, which has changed owners and managers over the years, is currently under new management by the nationally known entertainment group, Live Nation. The Wellmont has been revived once again and now serves as a concert venue in Montclair.

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When local organizations such as CWA and BlueWaveNJ learned of Nugent's performance, which is scheduled to take place on July 22, they immediately took action.

Hetty Rosenstein, New Jersey Director of the CWA union,says that when she saw an ad for the show, she called the Wellmont Theater and left a message. Over the next two months during April and May, she says that she left four different messages and had spoken to other people who also called the Wellmont, to no avail. Rosenstein and others decided to organize a protest.

"Ted Nugent is so hateful. He called the President of the United States of subhuman mongrel and called Hillary Clinton words we wouldn't even utter,” Rosenstein said. "It is astonishing how hateful he is. And his racist remarks are terrible.”

"Hate doesn't belong in Montclair or Essex County, ”Rosenstein said. “As state director of CWA, I recognize that he is entitled to his opinion, but as a leader of the organization I wanted to spread the word. If people were to read some of Ted Nugent's homophobic, sexist, racist and astonishing comments, they would also realize that he doesn't belong in our community because he's a hateful person.  We also have a Facebook page called Protest Ted Nugent in Montclair."

Rosenstein has been in contact with various local and statewide organizations regarding this performance. Many other local and national organizations, such as BlueWaveNJ, have decided to join forces with CWA.

An official spokesperson for BlueWaveNJ stated, "There's no place in Montclair for these kind of offensive statements.  BlueWaveNJ is active in co-organizing the protest and encourages people to contact local elected officials and the Wellmont.  We also encourage all to attend the protest.  "

On the Ted Nugent official web site, it reveals that Nugent is managed by McGhee Entertainment. Seth Goldstein, who works for McGhee Entertainment in California, chuckled when he discovered that there was a planned protest. He said,“The last show he had in California had some protesters, but only about two (laughs). They usually do that.  I was not really aware of this.” Goldstein then put the phone down and came back stating that he cannot comment further.

Local and state elected officials are expressing that community members and organizations are contacting them on this issue and are concerned about Nugent’s performance in Montclair.  

Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver said, “Ted Nugent's views are not reflective of those of the people in Montclair. I understand that there is freedom of expression, but he has said some of the most demeaning things about the President, Hillary Clinton and the Secretary of State. Many people come to Montclair for the diversity and tolerance and express that they chose to live here because they want to raise their kids in a racially and ethnically diverse community. I'm sorry that the owners of the Wellmont will support such racist and homophobic views."

Freeholder Brendan Gill, who plans on coming out to support his constituents, said, "I wonder whether this is reflective of the owners views or economically driven. Either way, a conscious business owner wouldn't want to bring such a divisive figure in town. We also have to understand that under the First Amendment, people are entitled to their freedom of speech, but business owners can also make moral and ethical decisions to the community they serve.

"I'm disappointed. I believe in free speech, but if you look at his comments, he said a lot of things that are extreme and not consistent with the values shared locally and statewide,” Gill continued. 

The Wellmont Theatre is operated by the Live Nation Entertainment group.  Several calls placed to the box office of the Wellmont Theater, have not returned comment.  Since concert-promoter Live Nation organizes the performances for the Wellmont, a message was left for media relations contact, Jacqueline Peterson on Tuesday.  A call was returned Tuesday afternoon by Jim Yeager of House of Blues Entertainment, an LA based company which works with Live Nation.  After banter about whether or not calls were really made to the Wellmont, Yeager returned to the phone and declined to comment.

The BlueWaveNJ spokesperson continued, "We believe that Mr. Nugent's offensive hate speech has no room in Montclair.  The fact that many of his offensive comments have been made in live performances, the Wellmont should not be providing him a platform to continue."

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