From Flint, Michigan Rob spent his younger years working in the GM Shops, on the Grand Trunk Railroad, and at West Amps, building the Guitar and Bass Amps for many Michigan rock bands, such as Dick Wagner and the Frost, and Grand Funk Railroad. While spending his evenings in local bands, Rob gained his bass chops.
Joining the early band after several member changes within the Amboy Dukes, Rob was involved in many songs as an unaccredited co-song writer, such as Great White Buffalo, Pony Express, Hibernation and many others. In the long run, these songs became popular in Nugent's long career. They toured constantly, covering over 250 concerts a year, with long drives and many road miles between gigs. They played anything from Bowling Alleys to the Grande Ballroom in Detroit. Primarily their concerts were based in the Mid-West, they never ventured nationally, until the band was picked up by Leber-Krebs in 1974 and began opening for Aerosmith, then the climb to success began.
"When Derek St. Holmes joined the band, the wave was underway for success. At only 22 Derek was one of the best unknown rock vocalists out of Michigan. With English born Cliff Davies joining as our drummer and co-producer, we had all the right players in place. Derek on Vocals and 2nd Guitar, Cliff on Drums/Vocals/Keyboards, and with the charismatic and unique playing style of Ted Nugent on Lead Guitar/Vocals and me bringing forward the vintage Amboy Dukes style as Bassist/Vocals. The natural chemistry of this line up moved the band, up the charts. The combined song writing of all of us, pushed the band to success. This resulted in multi Gold/Platinum albums and one of the top grossing rock bands of the '70s. To this day, the record sales of this original band of brothers still out sells Nugent's entire catalog. When you see Nugent present day, you'll hear primarily these songs, all written by these players, yet gone unaccredited." Rob Grange
In the early '60s and "70s there were no P/J basses. Rob, being an early craftsman, who grew up mentoring under Dave West of West Amps, he had watched first had how Mel Schacher, the bassist for Grand Funk Railroad had modified this stock Fender bass, so Rob took it upon himself to modify his own bass. He took his early '62 Fender Precision and added a Pre CBS Jazz pickup. He also added a Master Volume and an out of phase switch and a toggle to switch between pickups. When he co-wrote "Stranglehold" it was Rob who came up with the main pulsating bass line, using an early MXR "Script" Phase 90.
In Martin Popoff's book, "Epic Ted Nugent", Nugent admits that the song "Stranglehold" was co-written by Rob Grange, yet he never received a share for co-writer. "Stranglehold" would set the stage for Nugent's career, a guitar-driven track over eight minutes long - its famous guitar solo having been recorded in a single take. It also ranked the 31st greatest guitar solo of all time by Guitar World.
Rob has been putting together a book on his travels and times during his music career. He was the only bassist to have been a part of Nugent's most popular line up and at the peak of his career. Many fans wonder "why" this popular band imploded right at their peak. Now you'll have an inside view from an original member of one of the top grossing rock bands of the '70s. "It's not the one hour on stage, it's the 23 hours off stage that will kill you." Rob Grange
Here's a short exerpt:
No man, that’s not Ted Nugent, it’s that guy over there!
One night after the concert in a venue somewhere out there, I went around back stage to find a bathroom, but all the toilets were backing up. They told me I had to “go out front” and find one of the venue bathrooms. The concert goers where thinning out and leaving as the show was over, the overhead lights were on and some maintenance guys were sweeping up the floors. A few late leaving concert goers were milling around, getting booted out by ushers. We had never played this part of the country before, and with opening for Aerosmith, it was opening some brand-new markets for the band. They had heard Ted Nugent on the radio, but West of the Mississippi, they had never seen us live in concert.
Out front, since some people might recognize me as the Nugent bassist, I pulled off my trademark aviator shades and put them in my pocket. I pulled my long hair back and tied it in a pony tail. I asked and got directions to the closest bathroom. I went in and stood in line for the urinals. Two guys in front of me were having a heated argument.
“No, no, no man, that guy is NOT Ted Nugent, not the guy singing “Stranglehold”, but the guy over on the right side of the stage, the guitar player, that’s TED NUGENT”, the young kid with the Lynyrd Skynyrd T Shirt explained emphatically.
“No way man, you’re fu*kin’ nuts. They play Nugent on the radio all the time and the DJ always says “and that’s Ted Nugent”, it’s the guy on stage left, he’s the one singing all the hits, not that loud guitar player that’s jumping all over the stage and trying to steal the show from Ted Nugent.” If I was Ted Nugent I’d fire that guy, he’s too fu*kin’ loud and he’s distracting from Ted Nugent trying to play and sing the hits.”, said the younger kid in the Aerosmith T Shirt.
Little did they know that I was standing directly behind them and I was Nugent's bass player. I thought these guys were going to figure me out, so I turned my head away, but I found this hilarious. They were arguing about “who was Ted Nugent”.
“OK, man, OK, but I don’t think you’re right. Let’s ask around”, said the one kid. So, they poked the kid in front of them.
“Hey, just asking, which guy did you think was Ted Nugent” on stage tonight.
The guy in front of them turned and laughed and said, “Oh that’s easy, it’s the guy on the left of the stage that is singing “Hey Baby”, “Stranglehold” and “Just What the Doctor Ordered”, just like they announced on the radio. That’s Ted Nugent.” Said the kid in front.
Now, I’m still in line behind these guys and I’m bustin’ up at the humor here. Just wait until I tell the guys in the band back stage.
So, that’s how it went down, in the early days of all the new markets we were playing in, opening with Aerosmith, no one had ever seen Ted Nugent at any live shows. Everyone thought that Derek St. Holmes, our primary lead singer, was actually Ted Nugent. In the Mid-West everyone knew who the “Ted Nugent guy” was, but in the new markets we were now playing in West of the Mississippi, they had never seen the band.
Even when we did the live shows, we’d start our set and everyone would crowd to the front of the stage. We’d kick into our set and the crowd would go nuts. Then Derek would walk up to the mic and start singing and the throng of the crowd would rush over to his side of the stage. All eyes were on the singer, who they “thought” was Ted Nugent, because that’s who they heard on the radio.
This of course infuriated Theo.
I went back stage and told the guys what I had just heard out in the venue in the public bathroom.
Theo immediately went into urgent mode and called back to Detroit to custom order a huge 100 foot drop cloth photo of the album cover with him and his guitar as a huge logo behind the drums. This way, NO ONE could deny “who” the Ted Nugent guy was.
But, still to this day, you will find fans that have no idea that it’s actually Derek St. Holmes doing the majority of the singing and they still think that Derek is Ted Nugent. Even some of the Facebook postings you’ll still see that fans will admit that for years, they thought Ted was doing the singing, when in fact it was Derek St. Holmes. It also didn’t help when “Out of Control” was released years later and all the credits for the musicians, were left off the CD cover.
(Copy-written, all rights reserved)
1) When the "Ted Nugent" album hit it big and went Gold, Ted became an over night millionaire, yet still kept the rest of the band at $175. per week.
2) Even though all of the songs were co-written by all the band members, who had a huge hand in creativity, Ted took 100% of Publishing and 100% of song writing, cutting out the rest of the members .
3) The band members were instructed to remain in quadrants on stage and not distract from Nugent during the show.
4) The first 4 albums, done by the original members, still out sell Nugent's entire catalog 40 years later.
5) The "Stranglehold" and demise of this band, opened the door for Van Halen to take over as a top grossing rock band of the era.
6) Even though Nugent had a huge hit on his hands, and finally a Gold album after 6 failed prior album attempts, none of the original band members were signed or under contract with Epic. The original band members remained unsigned and could be replaced at anytime with no prior notice.
7) At the peak of their success, with 5 multi-platinum albums and headlining major rock concerts nationwide, the band suddenly split up.
8) Cal Jam II was the last concert with the original band members. Within a few months of the split up, Nugent's career began it's demise, which discredited his prior claim that he was 100% responsible for his own success and had written all the songs himself.
9) With St.Holmes and Grange gone from the band, Epic records soon realized that it wasn't the same chemistry and they dropped Nugent. He soon found himself without a label and back in the cycle of changing out band members and struggling to write good songs. Altantic Records would only sign him, if he brought back St. Holmes.
10) In the meantime, Grange and St. Holmes were out with their new project, St. Paradise, yet they too struggled, as they didn't have Nugent's stage charisma to set them apart from other rock bands. Plus, they had the same manager as Nugent, Leber-Krebs, and they eventually found out this was a conflict of interest. St. Paradise soon found they were banned and black balled in many venues, possibly as a revenge move for leaving Nugent. With both Nugent and St. Paradise struggling, Leber-Krebs moved on to more successful bands.
11) There was a time when both Van Halen and Rush toured and opened for the Ted Nugent Band.
12) There was also a time when the Ted Nugent Band Co-Headlined with Aerosmith and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
13) Opening on the Bad Company tour, The Ted Nugent band was eventually removed for being too popular.
14) Sold out huge venues like Anaheim, CA, Soldier's Field in Chicago, Cobo Hall in Detroit and the Pontiac Silver Dome, and Cal Jam II were the norm.
15) Both Rob Grange and Ted Nugent played in Chuck Berry's pickup band, as well as Bo Diddley's pick-up band.
16) After finishing the "Tooth, Fang and Claw" album, Rob broke his middle finger on his right hand trying to corral a loose horse. Knowing that Nugent would replace him, he didn't tell Nugent and went out on tour with a unset broken finger. He played the entire tour using a pick and gave his broken finger a rest. In time it eventually healed but remained twisted.
17) With over 33 million albums sold and a long career spanning over 45 years with over 6000 live concerts, Ted Nugent's most popular band of the original members, was only together 3 years.
18) "Ted Nugent is a damn good shot. He's got a natural talent for marksmanship and I've never seen him miss his target. But, when it came to our band, he shot himself in the foot." Rob Grange
So "Why" did the TN band implode at the very peak of their career? You'll need to read the book.