Born Richard F. Friedman on October 31, 1944, in Palestine, TX. Education: Bachelor of arts degree, University of Texas. Addresses: Record company--Kinkajou Records, P.O. Box 120907, Nashville, TN 37212. Website--Kinky Friedman Official Website: http://www.kinkyfriedman.com.
Richard "Kinky" Friedman is one of a very few serious musicians and authors whose life and work comes with a caution: This Material May Be Offensive to Some. Outrageous and outspoken, Friedman's satirical country tunes have led to comparisons to the work of the late Frank Zappa of rock 'n' roll fame.
Friedman was born to Jewish parents in the town of Palestine, in Anderson County, Texas, and raised on the family ranch known as Rio Duckworth. His father was a university professor. Friedman founded his first band in the mid-1960s while studying psychology in an honors program at the University of Texas. At that early date he had yet to feel the full brunt of his politically incorrect impulses, and he named the band King Arthur & the Carrots. It was a surf-group-spoof ensemble, which seemed innocent and inoffensive, albeit goofy. The group recorded only one song, "Schwinn 24," and thereafter had little opportunity to offend the sensitivities of the listening public.
After graduating college, Friedman served in the United States Peace Corps in Borneo from 1966 to 1968, where his assignment as an agricultural extension worker involved shoveling excrement and other glamourless chores. Upon his return to the United States he cast his few remaining inhibitions aside and established a new cowboy band called Kinky Friedman & His Texas Jewboys. The group consisted of singers with a potpourri of shock-schlock nicknames such as Big Nig, Little Jewford, Panama Red, Rainbow Colors, and Snakebite Jacobs. Friedman's band worked its way to offbeat success with the help of a number of prominent musicians and producers, including Willie Nelson, Commander Cody, and Waylon Jennings. When the group recorded its debut album, Sold American, the record featured the respectable sounds of the late John Hartford and the less-than-respectable lyrics of Friedman. Such songs as "Ride 'em Jewboy" offered a unique perspective for country music fans. When a track from the album appeared on the country music charts, the Jewboys were honored with an invitation to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.
After securing a recording session with ABC Records, Friedman released a self-titled album as a follow-up in 1974. This outrageous second album was characterized by songs such as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore." Sold American, meanwhile, earned Friedman the title of Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year in 1974 from the National Organization for Women. It was a rendition of the Friedman tune "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bedroom" that clinched the dubious honor for the tongue-in-cheek Friedman. He was later honored for the same song when, in 1992, Source listed it among the "Best Country Song Titles Ever."
Negative publicity notwithstanding, Friedman recorded a third album, Lasso from El Paso, in 1976. That album secured a stamp of approval from such respected musical gurus as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, both of whom contributed to the album. During the mid-1970s, Friedman and his band toured with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. After the Jewboys disbanded in the late 1970s, Friedman eventually moved to New York City, where he occasionally played sessions at the Lone Star Café. In 1983 he recorded an album for Sunrise called Under the Double Ego; that recording marked the end of the musical performance phase of Friedman's career. He devoted the remainder of the 1980s to acting and writing, having earlier made three movies--Prime Time (American Raspberries) and Record City in 1977 and Loose Shoes in 1980. In 1983 Friedman appeared in The Being, and in step with his shock-value persona, he appeared in the supporting role of a sportscaster in Tobe Hooper's 1986 horror feature, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. TCM2, as the disturbing movie was known to many, was banned in Norway and left unrated in the United States. It was also banned in Australia, where a modified version was released with an R rating.
A collection of Friedman songs was compiled in the 1990s and released as Old Testaments & New Revelations in 1992 and From One Good American to Another in 1995. His songs have been recorded by such artists as Glen Campbell ("I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Star") and the New Kingston Trio. In 1999 Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Lyle Lovett released the album Pearls in the Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman; the album was a tribute to Friedman's talent as a songwriter.
After retiring from the recording studio, Friedman turned his sardonic talent to writing novels. Most notably he penned a collection of mystery books involving an alter-ego character named Kinky Friedman, also known as the Kinkster. The Kinkster character of Friedman's novels is a Jewish one-time country musician who embraces a second career as a private detective--and clearly bears an uncanny resemblance to the author. Friedman's first Kinkster book, Greenwich Killing Time, published by Beach Tree in 1986, reveals the same tongue-in-cheek humor of his musical compositions and features equally volatile political commentary and biting remarks such as, "There's nothing wrong with any woman that a hand grenade or a Quaalude can't straighten out." When Friedman's second mystery, A Case of Lone Star, was published in 1987, People magazine's Campbell Geeslin called it "outrageously funny." Lone Star was followed by When the Cat's Away in 1988, Frequent Flyer in 1989, and Musical Chairs in 1991. His sixth and seventh novels--Elvis, Jesus & Coca Cola and Armadillos & Old Lace-- were published in 1994. With the publication of Friedman's 1995 novel, God Bless John Wayne, Ruth Coughlin mentioned the Friedman-Zappa analogy with regard to Friedman's writings, saying, "Kinky Friedman is to the detective novel what Frank Zappa is to rock and roll: a gleeful gadfly who delights in offending purists."
By 1997 Friedman went into publication with his tenth mystery novel, Roadkill, and Blast from the Past appeared in 1998. Other Friedman publications during the 1990s include The Kinky Friedman Crime Club, 1992; Selections: Three Complete Mysteries, 1993; The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover, 1996; and Spanking Watson, 1999. When The Mile High Club hit stores in 2000, Jeff Zaleski, of Publisher's Weekly, affectionately noted of the detective character: "As usual, the mystery at hand counts for less than the time spent in Kinky's company."
In collaboration with Mike McGovern, Friedman released a cookbook called Eat, Drink, and Be Kinky: A Feast of Fabulous Recipes for Fans of Kinky Friedman in 1999. In 2001 Friedman published a wit-and-wisdom-laced volume, Kinky Friedman's Guide to Texas Etiquette, or, How to Get to Heaven or Hell without Going through Dallas-Fort Worth. He also returned the Kinkster detective character to center stage that year with Steppin' on a Rainbow.
Friedman is the owner, operator, president, and chief executive officer of Kinkajou Records of Nashville, Tennessee. He established the label in 1999 in conjunction with the release of Pearls in the Snow. He lives in Texas Hill Country where he also writes a regular column for Texas Monthly.He is the cofounder of the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.
by Gloria Cooksey
Kinky Friedman's Career
Member of King Arthur & the Carrots, 1966; led Kinky Friedman & His Texas Jewboys, 1969-79; released debut album, Sold American, 1973; released solo album, Under the Double Ego, 1983; published first of many mystery novels, Greenwich Killing Time, 1986.
- Selected discography
- "Schwinn 24"/"Beach Party Boo Boo," Jox, 1962.
- "Sold American"/"Western Union Wire," Vanguard, 1973.
- "Autograph,"/"Lover Please," ABC, 1974.
- "Popeye the Sailor Man,"/"Wild Man from Borneo," ABC, 1975.
- "Catfish"/"Dear Abbie," Epic, 1976.
- (With Ronee Blakley) "Twirl"/"Hello, Good Mornin,'" Sunrise Records, 1983.
- Sold American , Vanguard, 1973; reissued, 1989.
- Kinky Friedman , ABC, 1974; reissued, Varèse Sarabande, 1994.
- Lasso from El Paso , Epic, 1976; reissued, 1993.
- Under the Double Ego , Sunrise, 1983.
November 11, 2003: Friedman's album, Under the Double Eagle, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_3/folk.jsp, November 12, 2003.
November 22, 2003: Friedman announced that he is "dreaming of a grass-roots army to collect the 45,000 signatures that an independent candidate needs" to run for Governor of Texas. Source: New York Times, www.nytimes.com, December 1, 2003.
March 6, 2004: Friedman announced he will run for Texas governor in 2006 as an independent. Source: CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/06/tx.friedman.reut/index.html, March 6, 2004.
January 24, 2005: Friedman announced he will run as an Independent for governor of Texas. Source: Guardian, http://books.guardian.co.uk, January 24, 2005.
- Entertainment Weekly, March 20, 1992, p. 39; August 27, 1993, p. 106.
- New York Times Book Review, September 24, 2000, p. 7.22.
- People, September 1, 1986, p. 11; November 9, 1987; May 6, 1991, p. 32; October 23, 1995, p. 30.
- Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2000, p. 71; August 20, 2001, p. 60.
- "Kinky Friedman," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Blitxlfde5cqi~C (October 26, 2001).