With their mouths frequently in close proximity to a microphone, musicians often use their star power to voice a wide array of beliefs – from religious to political. The latter category is often seen safer from a PR perspective, at least insofar as one is critiquing a topic that is to the ire of most, as satirists like Stephen Colbert do. If musicians were to heed the advice of their PR team, they would all be somewhere in the middle, praising freedom and their country without touching specifically on what they believe to be the superior political party. Both Republicans and Democrats have their share of outspoken musicians, but here are some prominent ones that are strongly on the right:
Ted Nugent, who found solo fame after serving as lead guitarist of The Amboy Dukes, is one of the most outspoken musicians who sides with the Republican Party. One of Nugent’s largest efforts is his belief that Americans have the right to bear arms. Nugent serves on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a position that furthered surrounding controversy when he was fined in 2010 by California for killing a young buck and using commercial bait. Apart from his views on arms, Nugent is highly vocal in his efforts against drugs and alcohol. In addition to his strong support for Republican presidential candidates the past several elections, Nugent has considered running for office. Calling Americans “soulless fools” on Twitter for voting Obama in 2012 is not a good way to start a campaign, however.
One of the most visible supporters of John McCain during his 2008 presidential bid was country music singer-songwriter John Rich, who even released a track – “Raisin’ McCain” – showing support. He stayed strong, stayed extra long, ‘til they let all the other boys out,” he sings. “Now we’ve got a real man with an American plan, we’re going to put him in the big White House.” On September 3rd in front of many hopeful supporters, Rich performed “Raisin’ McCain” at the closing ceremony of the Republican National Convention. Apart from endorsing Zach Wamp for Governor of Tennessee in 2010, Rich hasn’t been as politically active – but his songs continue to tout the views and ideologies he consistently sticks to.
As one of the Republican Party’s highest-profile musical supporters, Kid Rock has long been outspoken regarding views that typically align with the right on fiscal and some social issues. Early in his career he seemed to vehemently oppose abortion, as outlined by the despair of his 2000 track “Abortion”, which showed suicidal depression after his unborn child was aborted. Still, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone he expressed his support for both gay marriage and abortion rights, saying it wasn’t his role to judge the preferences of others. “Look, I tend to vote Republican, but I don’t like the hardcore views on either side and I’m not in bed with anybody,” he explained. “I’d probably be more Libertarian, but I’m a firm believer you have to pick a side.” So Republican it is, and his support for Mitt Romney showed that, but it seems Kid Rock is leaning toward the left on social issues as he grows older.
Although the younger audience may not recognize Boone like some of the names above, the veteran singer has been a longtime supporter of the Republican Party. As the second best-selling artist of the ’50s, behind only Elvis, Boone always made his conservative views known. He became more prominent in the political scene starting in the late ’60s and into the ’70s, when he campaigned for Ronald Reagan to become Governor of California. In the past decade, Boone has become a popular conservative columnist for sites like WorldNetDaily. In one of his columns, Boone compared liberalism to cancer, and in another questioned the patriotism of Democrats and other non-Republicans, saying that criticism of past presidents was not respectful of elders.
It may come as a surprise to many Guthrie fans that the legendary folk singer often associated with the hippie scenes of the ‘60s and ‘70s registered as a Republican for the 2004 election. Still, the reasons for his decision seem as rooted in peace and cooperation as any hippie icon. “I became a registered Republican because, to have a successful democracy, you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably,” Guthrie told the New York Times in 2009. “We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.” The folk legend seems to have never lost his touch for twangy pacifism.