K.J. Knight reminisces about recording the album & life with Ted Nugent!
"When we recorded that album, over two nights at The Eastown Theatre, we had only been playing those songs for about a month. We all thought that about 6 months down the road the songs were a lot tighter. We played the same set both nights. Ted picked out the best recording of each song from the 2 nights, so there are not any other songs or anything different in the can that wasn't released.
"I remember that my drums were recorded improperly and that when they tried to mix the sound of my drums, they couldn't lower the level of my Hi-Hat cymbals because when they did you could barely hear my snare drum! After we recorded that album, we had to go into a studio to redo some of the vocals. If you listen real closely, during the end of "Rattle My Snake", you will hear me say "OOOOHHHH, Stretch Marks!". Ted and I both screwed this girl [in an attempt to be a gentleman I won't release her name] and during sex she would make a lot of strange noises. During "Papa's Will", when Ted makes all those noises, he is actually imitating the wild noises that the girl we both banged use to make. It was an inside joke, between Ted and I."
Survival Of The Fittest' was the second album of a two-album record deal that Ted and the Dukes had with Polydor Records. The first album was "Marriage On The Rocks-Rock Bottom". Polydor Records didn't put any money into promoting "Survival" because "Marriage" was a flop. They dropped the Dukes after "Survival". I think initially the album sold about 50,000 to 75,000 copies. I received a $1,000.00 advance before "Survival" was released and have never seen another penny since [I CO-WROTE the title track!]."
Let me give you a little inside information regarding the Amboy Dukes. Back in the days of The Lourds. The Gang and in the beginning of The Amboy Dukes, Ted Nugent was just a band member. The Dukes were the first band I ever heard of (in the area) that actually had a band house and everyone lived together. I met Steve Farmer and we hung out a couple of times & went to a couple of parties together. I liked Steve. He was a fairly nice guy & definitely had the look of a rock star. Even back then, Ted was becoming the emerging star of the Dukes. He was developing a style of playing guitar [speed and feedback] that would set him apart from all of his peers. Furthermore, Ted was and still is, a fantastic show man. Ted's on stage antics are rock and roll legend."
"I got in the Dukes through Rusty Day. When the Dukes fired John Drake and hired Rusty, on several occasions (being a friend of Rusty's) I would travel with the Dukes, at Rusty's request, in the limo to their gigs. This is how I got to know the guys in the band. Later, when Dave Palmer quit, and Rusty & Steve Farmer were canned [for drug use as well being difficult to work with] , the remaining Dukes [Ted, Andy Solomon and Greg Arama] knew me and liked me, so I had the inside track in landing the spot as their new drummer. Like they say 'It's who you know not what you know.'"
" I'll tell you one thing, during the time I played with Ted [by the way I played with Ted on two different occasions and quit the band both times. The first time was from approximately 1969-1971 and the next time was from 1972-1973], there was nothing cooler then being picked up at your house by the Limo, driven by Ted, on the way to a local gig. The first time I played with Ted, the line up was Ted, Greg Arama, Andy Solomon and myself. Arama was a great bass player, but he got too deep into heroin and Ted had to finally let him go. I recommended Rob Ruzga, from Cleveland, so Ted hired him on my recommendation. However, I don't think that Ted thought too highly of Ruzga's abilities. Anyway, Ted fired Ruzga, about a year after "Survival" was released. He was replaced by Rob De La Grange. Before Ruzga was fired, Ted hired Dave Gilbert as a lead vocalist. Ted fired Gilbert because of his drug use. After Ruzga was fired, I quit shortly thereafter. When I joined the band the second time, the line up was John Angelos on vocals, Rob Grange on Bass, myself on drums and Ted. This time I replaced Joe Vitale, who went on to play with Joe Walsh. When I played with Ted I was paid $175.00 a week, no matter how many dates we played each week. I quit the band because I wasn't making any money and I was ambitious. I thought I could use The Dukes as a stepping stone. Then about 3 years later Ted hit it big!!!"
"I have a lot of stories about my days playing with Ted and the Dukes. I have been thinking about writing a book about those times. Let me say this regarding Ted Nugent, and believe me, know one knew Ted better than I. We lived together in an apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan [for about a year]. I have never met a more confident and decent human being. Ted walks the talk. He is generous, humorous, intelligent, articulate, talented and a wonderful role model."
"I hadn't talked to Ted in about 17 years. in August of 1998, however, I heard that he was coming to Orlando to play the House Of Blues. I went on his web site and I got a business fax # and faxed him a personal message. To my surprise, he phoned me and we hooked up at his gig! He treated me very well. He mentioned my name on stage during his performance and told me, personally, how my playing affected his guitar playing. It was a great experience!"