- FRIEDMAN, KINKY
- FRIEDMAN, KINKY (Richard F.; 1944– ), U.S. country singer, novelist, political activist. Friedman was born in Chicago to Minnie and Tom, who had flown 35 bombing missions over Germany during World War II. The family moved to Texas, where Friedman's father was a speech therapist and an educational psychology professor at the University of Texas. The Friedmans also ran their own summer camp for children in the Texas hill country, called Echo Hill Ranch. It was there that young Richard Friedman began life as an entertainer, originating ideas for comedy routines on camp skit nights, and writing the winning songs for bunk song night. Friedman founded his first band while at the University of Texas, King Arthur & the Carrots, a group that poked fun at surf music and recorded one single, "Schwinn 24" / "Beach Party Boo Boo" in 1966. After graduation, Friedman served in the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1968 in the jungles of Borneo. In 1971, Friedman founded his second band, Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys, an irreverent group reflected in their name as well as in their songs, which included "The Ballad of Charles Whitman," about the Texas sniper; satirical responses to antisemitism called "We Reserve the Right To Refuse Service To You" and "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore"; "Ride 'Em Jewboy," the only country song written about the Holocaust; and the politically incorrect, "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven & Your Buns in the Bed." Many Jewishowned chain stores thought the name of the band was antisemitic or self-hating, and refused to carry the group's first album, Sold American. The group also elicited bomb threats from the Jewish Defense League. In 1976, Friedman and his band toured with Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue. That same year he made his third album, Lasso from El Paso, featuring Dylan and Eric Clapton. Three years later the Texas Jewboys disbanded and Friedman moved to New York, where he often appeared solo at the Lone Star Café sporting a yellow Star of David on his guitar strap. He also began writing mystery thrillers, featuring a Jewish country singer turned Greenwich Village private eye named Kinky Friedman, who, like his creator, always wore a black Stetson and smoked Cuban cigars. To everyone's surprise, Friedman's fiction was well received and a new career was born, resulting in 17 books in the detective series and fivemillion books sold – including Greenwich Killing Time (1986), Elvis, Jesus and Coca-Cola (1993), God Bless John Wayne (1995), and The Mile High Club (2000); a non-fiction work, Kinky Friedman's Guide to Texas Etiquette: Or How to Get to Heaven or Hell Without Going Through Dallas-Fort Worth (2001); and a novel, Ten Little New Yorkers (2005), which Friedman announced would be his final literary effort. In 1999, singers Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Tom Waits, and Lyle Lovett covered Friedman's music on the tribute album, Pearls in the Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman. In 2002 a documentary was made about Friedman by Simone de Vries called Proud to Be an Asshole from El Paso. In March 2005, Friedman announced his independent candidacy for governor of Texas in 2006, with slogans such as "How Hard Could It Be?" and "Why the Hell Not?" and acampaign promise: "If you elect me the first Jewish governor, I'll reduce the speed limit to 54.95." (Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.