Kinky Friedman is an American Texas Country singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and former columnist for Texas Monthly who styles himself in the mold of popular American satirists Will Rogers and Mark Twain.
Like so many cool people in the boom generation, Kinky Friedman first saw the world through the Peace Corps in the sixties. Kinky did his PC time in Borneo as an agriculture extension worker, wherein he introduced the Frisbee to the natives and taught farming techniques to people who had been farming successfully for thousands of years. But it was in Borneo that Kinky began to write the tunes that would propel the rest of his life.
Kinky had formed his first band, King Arthur & the Carrots while a student at the University of Texas, prior to his Peace Corps stint, but when he returned to the states, he really got serious with his second band, Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys, the unit for which he is most famous, musically.
For his first album, Kinky released ‘Sold American’ in 1973 for Vanguard Records. His repertoire mixed social commentary (‘We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You’) and maudlin ballads (‘Western Union Wire’) with raucous humor (such as ‘Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed’). His ‘Ride ‘Em Jewboy’ was an extended tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, and one of his most famous tunes from this session, ‘They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,’ is still on many hip playlists.
In the mid-’70s, Friedman and the Jewboys toured with Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue. By 1976 he had recorded his third album, ‘Lasso From El Paso,’ featuring appearances by Dylan and Eric Clapton. The Texas Jewboys disbanded less than three years later, and Friedman moved to New York, where he became a Sunday night fixture at the legendary Lone Star Cafe. His performances, often featuring guests like Robin Williams and John Belushi, were equally legendary.
During the seventies, Kinky set several high water marks in his early performance career. In 1975, Friedman and the band taped an Austin City Limits show which was never aired. According to the show’s executive producer, Terry Lickona, this was the only time in the show’s long history that an episode went unaired. Lickona told the Austin Chronicle “I’ve seen it many times – I think it was a great show, and it might be as offensive today as it was back then.”
Kinky was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in October 1976, the first year of SNL, and he claims to have been the first full-blooded Jew to take the stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Apparently, this is true.