Ted Nugent – Free For All

Ted Nugent is well-known for his exceptional guitar playing as well as his outspoken political views. I don’t talk politics here, so let’s just talk about guitar playing. But not Ted’s. Let’s talk about the “other” guitarist in Nugent’s band, Derek St. Holmes.

I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Derek St. Holmes play last night at a local Detroit concert venue, the legendary Token Lounge (which I remember seeing one or two bands at way back in the ’70s and ’80s). I left that show last night realizing that, because he played as the “other” guitarist alongside Nugent, Derek St. Holmes was a vastly overlooked guitar legend.

St. Holmes, who now lives in Nashville, was up in his original stomping grounds in the Detroit area, I believe for the Christmas season. While in the area, he scheduled a night to perform at the Token. When he saw Glocksmith, a local Detroit area band, playing at a nearby venue, he immediately asked them to be his backing band. I have a couple of friends who play in Glocksmith and I have seen them play live many times. There was no way I was going to miss this show.

After the show, I couldn’t help but realize what an awesome guitarist St. Holmes is. He was definitely held back by being the rhythm guitarist with Nugent. That’s probably why he left in the late seventies and teamed up with Aerosmith’s “other” guitarist Brad Whitford to form Whitford/St. Holmes. Unfortunately, Brad Whitford returned to Aerosmith when they reformed, squelching any chance of Whitford/St. Holmes ever having a chance of making it.

Derek St. Holmes put on a great show last night, Performing many of the songs he played and sang lead vocals on while in Ted Nugent’s band, as well as some from Whitford/St. Holmes. My only gripe with the show was that my friends, Randy Peavler on Bass and Dave Goldsworthy on guitar, were left somewhat in the shadows – although they were graciously given their moments to shine. That’s a personal thing though. For most people at the show last night, it was all about the often overlooked “other” guitarist from Ted Nugent’s band, Derek St. Holmes.

For me though, it was about my friends in Glocksmith getting do a show with one of their heroes, and a true guitar legend.

Derek St. Holmes and Glocksmith – Stranglehold

The Rockets – Live Rockets

The music business is filled with unsung heroes – local bands that never received the true recognition they deserved. I can’t speak for other major cities, but in the case of Detroit, there is no truer case of this than The Rockets. 

A local supergroup of sorts, guitarist Jim McCarty and drummer John Badanjek, from Mitch Rider’s backing band, the Detroit Wheels (and later a member of supergroup “Cactus”) along with front-man Dave Gilbert from Ted Nugent’s Amboy Dukes, were the core driving force of what was truly a force to be reckoned with in the late ’70s and early ’80s. They just never had the chance to really prove it.

In the course of their career, The Rockets released five great studio albums and one incredible live album, recorded at the Royal Oak Music Theater. If ever there was a swan song live album to be released by any band, “Live Rockets” was it. This was the sound of a band hungry to prove they had what it takes to make it. The problem was the record company just wasn’t listening. All you really have to hear in order to realize the success this band could have reached was the response from the audience. The energy in the auditorium that night was massive.

Still, at least to the fans in their hometown of Detroit, “Live Rockets” left a lasting impression of what rock and roll was at its core to those who play it live. The sound of a band hungry to play music and to get a crowd fired up, always leaving them wanting more.