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Gary Graff The Oakland Press | For MediaNews Group

December 9, 2022 at 8:00 a.m.

Tony Muggs started thinking about writing a book about his life back in 2005 — but it took 17 years to get there.

“I just never got around to it,” says Muggs (nee DeNardo), a Detroit musician who co-founded the award-winning Muggs, leads his own band Dude and is part of the tribute bands Rattlesnake Shake (Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac) and Mega Weedge (Ween). “I never had the inspiration to sit down and thoughtfully start putting it together.”

And when that time finally came in December of 2016, Muggs acknowledges the recently published “Autobiograffitti” — the first of two planned memoirs — did not come easy.

“I was very native,” Muggs, 49, says with a chuckle. “It’s hard to write a book. It’s a battle of attrition. I learned to not be so cocky and just break it down and write on my iPhone in a bar or cafe for three or four hours at a time and then go back and edit it. I did that process for about two and a half years, and now here we are.”

The 365-page “Autobiograffitti,” which the St. Clair Shores resident published himself, offers a frank and detailed look at a portion (birth until the beginning of 2003, not sequentially) of what’s been a dramatic life — not the least of which was suffering a hemorrhagic stroke on Sept. 4, 2001, that left Muggs, then a bass player, paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. While his best friend and guitarist Danny Methric put the Muggs on hold while DeNardo recovered, he through therapy and sheer determination worked himself back into a functional shape, even learning to play his bass parts on a Fender Rhodes electric piano, inspired by the Doors’ Ray Manzarek.

“I always thought I was going to make it,” notes Muggs, the son of an undercover Detroit police officer and the middle of five children raised near Detroit City Airport. “I’ve known I can do whatever I put my mind to from a very young age. Even when the stroke happened it was, ‘Let’s pull up the boot straps and get to work. I have things I want to accomplish in my life and the clock is ticking.’

“My mom used to say ‘tomorrow is promised to no one’ — and don’t I know it. So what’s making it? Success to me is being in the Muggs for 20 years and releasing albums and touring the world and now releasing a book. I’ve come from the depths of hell all the way to this fairy tale life I think I have now, and I know to be grateful.”


A weekly feature showcasing local artists

Name: Tony Muggs

Sound: Rock, classic rock, blues, power pop

History: Tony may be best known to the Detroit music scene for his longstanding role as one-third of the blues/rock trio the Muggs. In addition to performing, touring Europe and releasing music with that band for the past two-plus decades, he also plays in the Ween tribute band Mega Weedge and has a solo project called Dude.

The latest: The musician and songwriter recently self-published the book "Autobiograffitti," which enthusiastically chronicles his youth growing up in Detroit, early days as a musician and his struggles recovering from a stroke that he suffered just days before the 9/11 tragedy. Tony will host an "Autobiograffitti" book reading and signing at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Cadieux Cafe, 4300 Cadieux in Detroit. He'll be joined by guest readers and fellow musicians Audra Kubat, Jimmy Doom, Eddie Baranek and others. A few days before, Dude will perform Dec. 17 at Ghost Light, 2314 Caniff in Hamtramck, with the Gashounds and Bandau. Doors open at 9 p.m. for that show and there will be a $10 cover charge.

Next: Tony Muggs is planning a Dude album also titled "Autobiograffitti" to hit this spring. A release party is set for April 15 at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward in Detroit. Keep up with Tony Muggs and all his projects at

Melody Baetens


May 25, 2022

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Muggs. 

Hi Tony, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

Whoa! There’s a lot to unpack regarding my story. I guess you could say I was late to the prom in terms of being a musician. Most musicians I know started in their pre-teen or early teenage years, I began my journey on guitar and bass guitar at the age of 18 and have never looked back. I was so lucky to have a musical partner throughout my journey. His name is Danny Muggs and he talked me into playing the bass guitar exclusively when I was 20. We started playing music together at 18 and are still playing in bands with each other to this very day. We were in several bands during our growing phases of becoming world-class musicians. We always had an original rock band and because of our love for the blues, a blues band as well. In 2000, we formed our band, The Muggs, and were gaining popularity in local Detroit in terms of a new, exciting blues-rock band to watch out for. But on September 4th, 2001 I had a hemorrhagic stroke that nearly ended my life. The good news was that I didn’t die! The bad news was that I was completely paralyzed on my right side and unable to speak, having suffered what is called aphasia. Instead of replacing me on bass guitar in The Muggs, Danny decided there would be no Muggs without me so he put the band on hiatus until if or when I ever recovered. My stroke forever changed my life but made me determined to give it my all in the early days of recovery. The fact that Danny waited for me to potentially recover and rejoin The Muggs gave me a reason to live. My story didn’t have to have a happy ending and for the selfless act Danny bestowed upon me by putting The Muggs on permanent hiatus cannot be overstated! It was nearly two years to the day that I recovered enough to rejoin The Muggs in September 2003, however this time I was on a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass. I never regained function in my right hand or arm enough to play the bass guitar but a friend suggested that I could play my bass guitar lines on the Fender Rhodes Piano. It was all I had to reconnect with my passion (music) so in January 2003 I began teaching myself how to play the piano as a bass guitar and luckily the bass clef of a piano is on the left side the piano and the left side of my body was totally functional and completely unaffected by my stroke. Since then, I’ve made it my business to engage in as much music as possible. I have been in multiple bands over the years but 4 bands have been a mainstay since 2003 and beyond. 2 original rock bands: The Muggs and my power-pop/rock band, Dude and 2 tribute bands: Rattlesnake Shake: A Peter Green Fleetwood Mac tribute band and Mega Weedge: A Ween tribute band. The Muggs and Dude have been to Europe on tour 6 times since 2007 and The Muggs have won several Detroit Music Awards, have 6 full-length albums, licensed/published our music in commercials and movies, we were on national TV for a band competition called The Next Great American Band and we just joined the million-plus club on Spotify for our most popular song, Never Know Why. I started writing the first of two autobiographies in December 2016 and am putting the finishing touches on it as I write this today. I’m calling it, Autobiograffitti and am going to release it with the 2nd upcoming full-length Dude album called, yep! You guessed it! Autobiograffitti. My goal with the book is to raise stroke awareness but it’s also a story about true friendship, my love for music, my journey as a musician, and overcoming adversity. The album Autobiograffitti is just as interesting as I wrote many of these songs from personal experiences. I’d say it’s my attempt at a 70’s classic rock album! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Smooth road? Why… that would have been too easy! It’s been one hell of a ride! A ride that involved adventure, sorrow, roadkill, and an eventual happy ending. In the days that followed my stroke, the doctors told my family I would not likely live through this. I proved them all wrong, however. But I spent two long months in the hospital and rehab center and suffered complications all along the way via blood clots in both legs and my lungs! Yikes! All throughout this dreadful life-changing event, I had one thing of my mind and that was music. Didn’t know if I’d ever make it back to music again but it was all I thought about nonetheless. After I was discharged from the hospital, I began tinkering around on a Casio keyboard, hell-bent on seeing if I could sing and write songs anymore. Having lost the ability to talk was pretty intimidating and I wanted to prove myself worthy as my obsession with singing and songwriting was all I had at the time besides weekly visits to outpatient rehab. In 2002, I wrote 5 songs and demoed them on a 4-track recorder, and saved them to a cassette tape. The songs poured out of me and it was then I knew I hadn’t lost the ability to emote! In January 2003, I taught myself how to play the piano like a bass guitar which is not the norm at all. But I’d say I had no choice in the matter. I absolutely loved music that much that I had to try it out. I was in Southern California in the winter of 2003 doing some alternative therapy when I really knuckled down and began learning my new instrument. But I’d say that it really wasn’t a struggle because I wanted it so much. When something like a stroke takes everything from you as a young man, you gain perspective on life and the things that might have been a struggle to most were a joy to me. I enjoyed learning the nuances of the piano bass and used my ears to guide me. Ultimately, I think it made me a smarter musician! 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I play the Fender Rhodes Piano bass in two original rock band, The Muggs and Dude! I’ve branded myself as Tony Muggs around Metro Detroit and in pockets of the world where our music is played and heard! I’m so proud of my body of work as the bassist in The Muggs and as the singer and songwriter of my original power-pop/rock band, Dude. I think what sets me apart from others is my will to succeed in anything I do but especially in music. Having had a stroke and being disabled forced me to think about music differently. For example, I cannot pick up a guitar and strum and write a song. So, when I write music, it’s on my Fender Rhodes Piano Bass, and if I want to hear guitar, or strings, or horns, etc. I imagine it! This technique completely changed the way I write. I no longer depend on any one musician to accompany me when I’m writing because I imagine it all. It’s great fun bringing the songs I write to the other dudes in Dude and letting them flesh out certain parts in their own unique styles. Music = Fun! There is no wrong way to approach what you love! 


What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
To love people for who they are, not for whom you’d want them to be! 

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