Richard S. "Kinky" Friedman (born November 1, 1944)[1] is a Jewish American 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.[2] He was one of two independent candidates in the 2006 election for the office of Governor of Texas. Receiving 12.6% of the vote, Friedman placed fourth in the six-person race.


Friedman was born in Chicago to Jewish parents, Dr. S. Thomas Friedman and his wife Minnie (Samet) Friedman. The family moved to a ranch in central Texas a few years later. Friedman had an early interest in both music and chess, and was chosen at age 7 as one of 50 local players to challenge U.S. grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky to simultaneous matches in Houston. Reshevsky won all 50 matches, but Friedman was by far the youngest competitor.

Friedman graduated from Austin High School in Austin, Texas in 1962 and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966, majoring in Psychology. He took part in the Plan II Honors program and was a member of the Tau Delta Phi fraternity. During his freshman year, Chinga Chavin gave Friedman the nickname "Kinky" because of his curly hair.[3]

Friedman served two years in the United States Peace Corps, teaching on Borneo in Malaysia with John Gross.[4][5] He has been featured in the news including 60 Minutes on CBS and made an appearance as one of Jay Leno's guests. Friedman lives at Echo Hill Ranch, his family's summer camp near Kerrville, Texas. He founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, also located near Kerrville, whose mission is to care for stray, abused and aging animals; more than 1,000 dogs have been saved from animal euthanasia.

Music career

Friedman formed his first band, King Arthur & the Carrots while a student at the University of Texas. The band - which poked fun at surf music - recorded only one single in 1966 (Schwinn 24/Beach Party Boo Boo).

By 1971, Friedman had formed his second band, Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys, which many took to be a play on the name of the famous band Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. In keeping with the band's satirical nature, each member had a comical name: in addition to Kinky there was Little Jewford, Big Nig, Panama Red, Wichita Culpepper, Sky Cap Adams, Rainbow Colours, and Snakebite Jacobs. Friedman's father objected to the name of the band, calling it a "negative, hostile, peculiar thing",[6] which gave Kinky even more reason to choose the name.

Arriving on the wave of country rock following on from Gram Parsons, The Band, and the Eagles, Friedman originally found cult fame as a country and western singer. His break came in 1973 thanks to Commander Cody, who contacted Vanguard Music on his behalf. Friedman released Kinky Friedman in 1974 for ABC Records, then toured with Bob Dylan in 1975-6.[7] 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.

He made a race baiting song, "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore," a song in which Kinky verbally and physically beats up a drunken white person he deems "racist" who fictitiously berates blacks, Jews, Greeks, and Sigma Nus in a bar.

Sample lyrics:

"Oh, they ain't makin' Jews like Jesus anymore,
 They ain't makin' carpenters that know what nails are for"

Other Friedman tunes include "The Ballad of Charles Whitman," in which Friedman lampooned Whitman's sniper attack from The University of Texas at Austin's Main Building tower on August 1, 1966. His cover of Chinga Chavin's "Asshole from El Paso", a parody of Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" is, perhaps, his most famous song.

In 1975, Friedman and his band taped an Austin City Limits show which was never aired. According to the show's executive producer, Terry Lickona, this is the first and only time in the show's long history that an episode went unaired. Lickona told the Austin Chronicle "I've seen it many times – it's a very popular party tape among friends. I think it was a great show, and it might be as offensive today as it was back then." [8]

In early 1976, he joined Bob Dylan on the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

Friedman was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in October 1976.

Friedman claims to have been the first full-blooded Jew to take the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

In February 2007, Sustain Records released a compilation of the songs of Kinky Friedman sung by other artists called Why the Hell not... The compilation includes contributions by Dwight Yoakam, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and Kelly Willis.[9]

On July 20, 2007, Friedman hosted the "Concert to Save Town Lake" to honor the memory of Lady Bird Johnson and her efforts to protect and preserve the shores of Town Lake in Austin, Texas.[10]



Year Album US Label
1973 Sold American Vanguard
1974 Kinky Friedman 132 ABC
1976 Lasso from El Paso Epic
1983 Under the Double Ego Sunrise
1992 Old Testaments & New Revelations Fruit of the Tune
1995 From One Good American to Another
2003 Classic Snatches from Europe Sphincter
2005 Mayhem Aforethought
They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore Bear Family
2006 The Last of the Jewish Cowboys: The Best Of Shout! Factory
2007 Live from Austin, TX New West


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1973 "Sold American" 69 92 Sold American
1975 "Autograph" Kinky Friedman
"Popeye the Sailor Man"
1976 "Catfish" Lasso from El Paso

Writing career

After his music career stalled in the 1980s, Friedman shifted his creative focus to writing detective novels. His books have similarities to his music, featuring a fictionalized version of himself solving crimes in New York City and dispensing jokes, wisdom, recipes, charm and Jameson's whiskey in equal measure. They are written in a straightforward style which owes a debt to Raymond Chandler. To date, he has written two novels that do not star the Kinky Friedman character: Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned and The Christmas Pig.

Friedman has also written a regular column for the magazine Texas Monthly since April 2001, although it has been suspended during his run for governor of Texas; his last essay appeared in the March 2005 issue.[11] In 2008, Texas Monthly brought his column back on a bimonthly basis.

Two books have been published collecting some of these nonfiction writings, as well as previously unpublished ones: 'Scuse Me While I Whip This Out and Texas Hold'em. He has also published a travelog (The Great Psychedelic Armadillo Picnic) and an etiquette guide.

The recurring character "Rambam", a New York private investigator and friend of the Friedman character in the books, is based on the real-life investigator, Steven Rombom, who acts as a technical advisor for the real Friedman.[12]


In 1986, Friedman ran for Justice of the Peace in Kerrville, Texas, as a Republican but lost the election.

In 2004, Friedman began a serious, though colorful, campaign to become the Governor of Texas in 2006. One of his stated goals is the "dewussification" of Texas[13] Among his campaign slogans are "How Hard Could It Be?", "Why The Hell Not?", "My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy" and "He ain't Kinky, he's my Governor".[14]

Friedman had hoped to follow in the footsteps of other entertainers-turned-governors, including Jimmie Davis, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ronald Reagan. Jesse Ventura even campaigned with Friedman for his election.[15][16] When the campaign finance reports came out after the second quarter had ended, Friedman had raised more funds than the Democratic nominee, former Congressman Chris Bell.

On election day, however, Friedman was defeated by a wide margin, receiving less than 13% of the votes in the six-candidate matchup.

Issues and positions

On education, he supports higher pay for teachers and working to lower Texas's dropout rate, which is the highest in the United States.[17] He supports more investment in harnessing Texas's alternative fuel resources such as wind and biodiesel.[17] Friedman is opposed to the Trans-Texas Corridor since it relies on toll road construction. He feels that the TTC is a land grab of the ugliest kind, with land being taken from hard-working ranchers and farmers in little towns and villages all over Texas.[18]

On capital punishment, he previously summed up his position, "I am not anti-death penalty, but I'm damn sure anti-the-wrong-guy-getting-executed".[19] More recently, he has clarified his position: "The system is not perfect. Until it's perfect, let's do away with the death penalty".[20]

On illegal immigration, Kinky wants to increase the number of Texas National Guard troops on the border (from the current 1,500 to 10,000), impose $25,000 and $50,000 fines on companies that hire illegal immigrants and require foreign nationals seeking employment to purchase a foreign taxpayer ID card once they have passed a criminal background check. "Texas can no longer wait for our federal government to solve our illegal immigration problem," Friedman said. "These are steps that Texas can immediately take to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants penetrating our border." Had he been elected, he had promised to meet regularly with Governors Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and Janet Napolitano (Arizona) to develop a coordinated border state plan to supplement federal efforts to curb illegal immigration.[18] Previously, Kinky put forth the "Five Mexican Generals" Plan, to pay Mexican officials to halt immigration on their side of the border. Although he originally stated "When I talk about the five Mexican generals, people think I’m joking but I’m dead serious",[21] Friedman later told the Dallas Morning News that the plan, never meant to be carried out, was a joke with an element of seriousness.[22]

According to his official Web site,[18] Friedman's answer to the question "How does Kinky feel about abortion?" is "Kinky believes in a woman's right to choose." In person, he hedges his bet, saying "I'm not pro-life, and I'm not pro-choice. I'm pro-football".[23] On social issues he has supported gay marriage, answering an Associated Press reporter's question on the subject on Feb. 3, 2005, "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us"[19] (Friedman himself is not married).

According to Cigar Aficionado magazine, Friedman plans to roll back "any and all smoking bans" if elected. One of his favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain: "If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go".[24] Friedman supports the decriminalization of marijuana, though he doesn't advocate making its sale legal. "I'm not talking about like Amsterdam," he noted, "We've got to clear some of the room out of the prisons so we can put the bad guys in there, like the pedophiles and the politicians".[25]

Future political plans

On August 9, 2007 the Austin American-Statesman reported that Friedman is considering another run for Governor of Texas in 2010. "I'm open to running", Friedman said, adding that he won't make a final decision until after the 2008 elections.[26] On February 10, 2009 Friedman confirmed to the Associated Press that he was still interested in running.[27]

In an August 23, 2007 interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a February 10, 2009 interview with the Associated Press, Friedman stated that if he did run in 2010, he would run as a Democrat, citing that "God probably couldn't have won as an independent" and that he was a Democrat all his life.[27][28]

On April 14, 2009, Friedman announced in an email to supporters that he intended to make a second gubernatorial run, this time as a Democrat.[29]

Friedman announced on December 14, 2009 that he was leaving the gubernatorial race and would seek the Democratic nomination for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 2010.



  1. The Kosher Cowboy
  2. You Can Lead a Politician to Water, But You Can't Make Him Think,, October, 2007
  3. Lone Star: Kinky Friedman on the campaign trail by Dan Halpern, The New Yorker, 2005-08-22.
  4. Kinky Friedman Biography, Kinkajou Records.
  5. Notable Former Volunteers / Arts and Literature
  6. Kinky Friedman Turns To Politics, Humorist, Musician, Writer, Is Now Gubernatorial Hopeful In Texas - CBS News
  7. Tucker, Stephen R. (1998). "Kinky Friedman". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 184.
  8. The Austin Chronicle: Music: Looking Out My Back Door: Thirteen from 30 years of 'Austin City Limits'
  9. Peace Corps Online | 2007.02.02: February 2, 2007: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Music: Sherman Denison Herald Democrat : Kinky invites country greats to sing his songs on "Why The Hell Not..."
  10. Digital50: News and more Business News
  11. List of Friedman's articles and Hail to the Kinkster from Texas Monthly
  12. "Kinky Friedman inspiration gets busted" July 26, 2006
  13. News
  14. Upcoming Appearances | Kinky Friedman
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kinky Friedman | Independent Texan
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Kinky Friedman for Governor :: The Issues :: FAQ
  19. 19.0 19.1 CBS News, Aug. 21, 2005: Kinky Friedman Turns To Politics
  20. News from KTRK, around Houston and southeast Texas 2/28/06
  21. Friedman says all Texans independents, Kilgore News-Herald
  22. Chat with the candidates: Kinky Friedman, Dallas Morning News, August 17, 2006
  23. Friedman draws celebrity support | Kinky Friedman
  24.,2540,218,00.html Cigar Aficionado, Lone Star Long Shot
  25. Friedman urges pot be decriminalized
  26. Selby, Gardner W. (2007-08-09). "Kinky says he might have another go at governor". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 2008-12-02.  (original link)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Kinky Friedman may run again for governor, Associated Press, February 11, 2009
  28. [1]
  29. "Friedman forms fundraising committee", AP Texas News,

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Kinky Friedman. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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