City officials and management with The Rose nightclub have had meetings regarding a concert performance by a controversial musician scheduled to play in Pasadena this week.
Rocker Ted Nugent is set to play at The Rose on Sunday. Nugent made headlines a few years back when he called for the deaths of then-candidate Barack Obama and former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to city spokesman William Boyer, the city is aware that some people would prefer Nugent not perform, and that the appropriate public safety officials are working with representatives of The Rose.
“The Pasadena Police Department is in constant communication with the management at The Rose regarding the upcoming Ted Nugent performance,” said Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. “We are still working out the public safety logistics on this performance.”
Nugent is scheduled to play at The Rose this Sunday despite a petition signed by people across the country calling on officials with the venue to bar him from taking the stage.
More than 1,600 people have signed the change.org petition calling on The Rose to bar Nugent from performing at the venue. But so far, officials at the club have not budged.
Rose owner Lance Sterling said ticket sales for the show have not taken a hit, despite the petition. Nugent has played 14 shows at different venues owned by Sterling. In those seven years, a handful of protesters from PETA protested at a nearby freeway offramp when Nugent appeared at the Sterling-owned Canyon Room in Agoura Hills.
“Yes, we have been in touch with the Pasadena PD, and are cooperating with them, as we do with all shows at The Rose,” Sterling said in an email. “It is interesting to note that of all the people who commented on the petition, only 62 were from the Pasadena area, and in the week since your ‘Damn Yankee’ article ran, only about 50 people signed the actual petition.”
In that article, which appeared in the June 15 edition of the Pasadena Weekly, several prominent residents, including Ice House owner Bob Fisher, pointed out that a person’s political viewpoints should not be used to bar a performer from working. Fisher also advised concerned residents to not attend the performance if they are offended.
Still, that has not stopped some local residents from questioning the decision to book Nugent.
“I live in Pasadena and I’ve been to quite a few concerts at The Rose,” said Occidental College political science professor and local activist Peter Dreier in an open letter to Sterling. “But I won’t be going to any more performances there if you allow Ted Nugent to perform on your stage as he’s scheduled to do on July 2. I’ve encouraged others to boycott The Rose, too, unless you cancel Nugent’s concert. I’m encouraging people to forward this email to other people they know in the Pasadena and Los Angeles area.” (For more on Dreier’s comments, see the Letters section on Page 5.)
On Facebook, some free speech advocates incorrectly claimed that those who wanted management at the venue to cancel the shows were threatening Nugent’s First Amendment rights. The First Amendment only bars the government from prohibiting speech. It does not apply to privately owned businesses.
In 2007, Nugent brandished real weapons and called then-candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to suck on them. He also called several prominent women in the Democratic Party whores, including Democratic presidential candidate and former US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Democratic US Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun,” Nugent said during the concert as he wielded two assault rifles onstage. “Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”
Nugent continued his tirade by attacking Feinstein and former US Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has since been replaced by former state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
“Since I’m in California, how about Barbara Boxer, she might want to suck on my machine gun,” Nugent said. “And Dianne Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore.”
Nugent’s tirades were not just aimed at politicians. In 2013, he said the 14th Amendment should be revoked and immigrants entering the country illegally should be treated like indentured servants.
“We don’t need any more bloodsuckers.” Nugent said. “The anchor baby scam should be immediately rescinded. You don’t need to be a constitutional expert like our president to know that the original intent of the 14th Amendment was not to provide citizenship to illegal women or their babies who are born on American soil.”
In other comments, Nugent referred to President Obama — the nation’s first African-American president — as a “chimpanzee” and “subhuman mongrel.”
He also said that Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks in “Ebonic Mumbo-Jumbo.” He wrote: “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” He called African-American rappers “big uneducated greasy black mongrels.”
Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said she was contacted by a constituent who was offended by Nugent and his words.
“I immediately became concerned because of his inflammatory rhetoric and I made a call to the police chief and the city manager and suggested they speak to the owners,” said McAustin.
McAustin said that although the city does not control The Rose or its bookings, city officials do have a responsibility to get involved when people are concerned about their own safety or the public’s safety.
“Where I think the city comes in is public safety. We want to make sure that people are prepared for any activities that require attention,” McAustin said.
Examination of political speech expressed by celebrities seems to be on the rise with stars like Kathy Griffin losing work after holding a mock up of Trump’s decapitated head covered in fake blood. This past week, Johnny Depp came to the attention of the Secret Service after he seemed to threaten Trump when he asked a crowd, “When is the last time an actor assassinated the President?” in a not so veiled reference to John Wilkes Booth, who shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln.
In the case of the 69-year-old Nugent, who became famous with such hits as “Stranglehold’ (1975) and “Cat Scratch Fever” (1977), his calls to kill Obama and Clinton were treated as non-threatening, despite the actual presence of two real firearms when he called for Obama to suck on his weapons.
Nugent said he was toning down his political rhetoric after Republican Congressman Steve Scalise was shot on June 14 by a lone gunman in Alexandria, Virginia, during baseball practice game between members of Congress.
“I’m not going to engage in that kind of hateful rhetoric anymore,” Nugent told Yahoo! News the next day, the same day the story about the nightclub controversy appeared in PW. “I cannot and will not.”