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Kinky Friedman

Who else could have written a country song about the Holocaust ("Ride 'Em Jewboy"), or about a human being kept in a cage as part of a circus ("Wild Man from Borneo")? Outrageous and irreverent but nearly always thought-provoking, Kinky Friedman wrote and performed satirical country songs during the 1970s and has been hailed the Frank Zappa of country music. The son of a University of Texas professor who raised his children on the family ranch, Rio Duckworth, he was born Richard F. Friedman. He studied psychology at Texas and founded his first band while there. However, King Arthur & the Carrots -- a group that poked fun at surf music -- recorded only one single in 1966. After graduation, Friedman served three years in the Peace Corps; he was stationed in Borneo, where he was an agricultural extension worker.

By 1971 he had founded his second band, Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys. In keeping with the group's satirical songs, each member had a deliberately politically incorrect name: they called themselves Little Jewford, Big Nig, Panama Red, Rainbow Colors, and Snakebite Jacobs. Friedman got his break in 1973 thanks to Commander Cody, who contacted Vanguard Music on behalf of the acerbic young performer. That was the year he and his group made their debut album, Sold American, featuring John Hartford and Tompall Glaser. The title track, a bitter tale of a forgotten country singer dying an alcoholic death, barely made it onto the charts, but Friedman did attract enough attention to be invited to the Grand Ole Opry. In 1974, he recorded an eponymously titled album for ABC Records. Produced by Los Angeles pop helmsman Steve Barri, the album dissolved whatever pure country listenership Friedman might have had but delighted his growing core of fans with satirical pieces such as his response to anti-Semitism, "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore." Along with the satires, Friedman offered quieter sketches of American hard luck such as "Rapid City, South Dakota." In the mid-'70s, Friedman and his band began touring with Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue. In 1976 he made his third album, Lasso from El Paso, featuring Dylan and Eric Clapton. The Texas Jewboys disbanded three years later, and Friedman moved to New York, where he often appeared at the Lone Star Cafe. In 1983, he released Under the Double Ego for Sunrise Records.

After that, Friedman turned primarily toward writing, although he continued to make occasional nightclub appearances. He has written for Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly magazines and, most famously, has become a writer of unique and outrageous mystery novels such as Greenwich Killing Time, A Case of Lone Star, and The Mile High Club. Equal parts whimsy and metaphysics, the books blur fiction and reality. They feature a Jewish country singer turned Greenwich Village private eye named Kinky Friedman, who sometimes returns to his native Texas; other characters are drawn from Friedman's circle of friends in both New York and Texas. Many of Friedman's songs of the '70s and early '80s were collected on two CD compilations, Old Testaments & New Revelations (1994) and From One Good American to Another (1995). In 1999, the likes of Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Lyle Lovett covered Friedman's music on the tribute album Pearls in the Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman, and a second tribute volume was planned. In 2003 Friedman appeared in a nude, cigar-smoking triplicate on the cover of the Dallas Observer magazine, in a parody of the Dixie Chicks' nude Entertainment Weekly pose of that year. Vanguard released a 30th anniversary edition of Sold American (which included a couple of bonus tracks) in 2003. A previously unreleased 1973 live studio concert called Mayhem Aforethought appeared in June of 2005, followed by the compilation They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore later that October. An Austin City Limits appearance from 1975 that was deemed unfit to air finally saw the light of day thanks to New West Records' 2007 release of Live from Austin, TX. In 2015, Friedman returned with his first proper studio album since 1976's landmark Lasso From El Paso. Released by Avenue A Records, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met features a number of new originals, along with covers by Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson, who also guest on the album. ~ Sandra Brennan & James Manheim
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Live From Austin Tx

1. Amelia Earhart's Last Flight

2. Rapid City, South Dakota

3. Homo Erectus

4. Men's Room L.A.

5. Highway Cafe

6. Wild Man From Borneo

7. Carryin' The Torch

9. Lover Please

10. Rock N' Roll Across The U.S.A.

11. Mama Baby Mama

12. Arsehole From El Paso

13. They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore

14. Ride 'em Jewboy

x

Track List: The Best Of Kinky Friedman: The Last Of The Jewish Cowboys

1. Sold American (live)

3. The Ballad Of Charles Whitman

5. Get Your Biscuits In The Oven & Your Buns In The Bed

7. People Who Read People Magazine

8. Somethin's Wrong With The Beaver

9. We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You (live)

10. Homo Erectus

11. Ride 'em Jewboy

12. The Take-It-Easy Trailer Park

13. Rock And Roll Across The Usa

x

Track List: From One Good American To Another

1. Rock And Roll Across The USA

2. Shield Of Abraham

3. The Boogie Man

4. Ramblin' Boy

5. Old Shep

6. Pretty Boy Floyd

7. The Ballad Of IRA Hayes

8. Hobo's Lullaby

9. Amelia Earhart's Last Flight

10. Rapid City, South Dakota

11. They Ain't Makin Jews Like Jesus Anymore

12. Chorekee Shuffle

13. Miss Nikelodeon

14. Somethin's Wrong With The Beaver

15. Lover Please

16. Mama, Baby, Mama, Let Me Jump In Your Pajamas

17. Carrying The Torch

18. Father, Let They Blessings

19. Ride 'Em Jewboy

20. God Bless John Wayne

x

Track List: Kinky Friedman

1. Rapid City, South Dakota

3. Homo Erectus

4. Lover Please

5. Wild Man From Borneo

7. Somethin's Wrong With The Beaver

11. They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore

x

Track List: Sold American: 30th Anniversary Edition

1. We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You

2. Highway Cafe

3. Sold American

4. Flyin' Down The Freeway

5. Ride 'em Jewboy

6. Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed

7. High On Jesus

8. The Ballad Of Charles Whitman

9. Top Ten Commandments

10. Western Union Wire

11. Silver Eagle Express

12. Nashville Casualty And Life

13. Tramp On The Street

x

Track List: The Loneliest Man I Ever Met

1. Bloody Mary Morning

2. A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis

3. I'm The Loneliest Man I Ever Met

4. My S**ts F**ked Up

5. Lady Yesterday

6. Freedom To Stay

7. Wild Man From Borneo

8. Mama's Hungry Eyes

9. Pickin' Time

10. Girl From The North Country

11. Wand'rin Star

12. A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Kinky live at Austin city limits. Nuff said
Report as inappropriate
Definitely get my vote
Report as inappropriate
reverendceo
I was wondering if Willie Nelson and Kinkster are running for the White House in 2016???
Report as inappropriate
robertpquinn
Just saw the Kinkster at the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester NY. A great and very funny show!
Report as inappropriate
studio1017
i think this was the only episode of Austin City Limits that was filmed but never aired.
Report as inappropriate
And what about his books? I love them. He's the funniest cat-loving, misogynistic , slimeball, chauvinistic - p i g writer out there, and he is one of my guiltiest pleasures.
Report as inappropriate
Who's better then Kinky?
Report as inappropriate
funniest son of a bicth born
Report as inappropriate
pretty interesting. reminds me of weird al and voltaire...
Report as inappropriate
Just saw the Kinkster live at the Belly Up Bar in Solano Beach, great show!
Report as inappropriate
It was the '06 election (Texas gov is up for election in "midterm" years). In a crowded field, Kinky got 12 percent of the vote ... a better showing than the Libertarian candidate.
Report as inappropriate
left out were his unsucessful campaigns for mayor of Kerville,Tex a s , a n d more recently govornor of Texas.He got about 10% of the (I think)'04 race,running as an independent.

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