(1944 - )
Richard F. "Kinky" Friedman, born October
31, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois,
is an American singer, songwriter and novelist.
Born in Chicago, Friedman's family moved to a ranch in central Texas during his childhood. He had a keen interest in both music and chess
at an early age. Friedman, an honors student, graduated from the University
of Texas at Austin in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and
then served two years with the Peace Corps in Borneo and other areas
of the southwest Pacific Ocean.
Friedman currently lives at Echo Hill Ranch, his family's summer camp
near Kerrville, Texas, just outside of Medina. He also founded Utopia
Animal Rescue Ranch, whose mission is to care for stray, abused and
aging animals; more than 1,000 dogs have been saved from euthanasia.
Who else could have written a country song about the Holocaust ("Ride 'Em Jewboy"
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
in 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 worked as 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 hard 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 1970s and
early '80s were collected on two CD compilations,
Old Testaments and 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.
Sources: Reprinted with the permission of Kinkajourecords
(Sandra Brennan & James Manheim, All