Texas Mourns Cultural Icon Kinky Friedman at Age 79

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The indomitable spirit of the Lone Star State mourns the loss of one of its brightest stars, singer, songwriter, and cultural provocateur Kinky Friedman. This eclectic musician, celebrated writer, and downright audacious political figure passed away peacefully in his sleep at his family’s ranch at the age of 79, near San Antonio, Texas, his close friend and compatriot in mischievous adventures, Kent Perkins revealed.

Friedman, who grappled with Parkinson’s disease for several years, spent his final moments with the resolute charisma and rustic charm that prompted nicknames like “The Kinkster.” Affectionately envisioned with his signature sideburns, thick mustache, and hat adorning his head, he finished his last cigar, sauntered to his bed, and bid the world adieu with the same unpretentious grace that characterized his whirlwind life.

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Friedman and Perkins’ camaraderie stemmed from the unlikely bond formed at a party half a century ago where they found themselves the sole patrons brandishing tuxedos and cowboy hats. Their shared roots in Texas – and common contracts with Columbia Records – fostered a connection that Perkins would describe as a gravitational pull between “two Texans”. He romanticized Friedman as “the last free person on earth”, a natural iconoclast with an irreverent streak that made him a fearless writer and remarkable personality.

Friedman’s journey into the entertainment realm started with his alt-country band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. Their satirical blend of music quickly gained them a cult following and a reputation for provocation, courtesy of songs with unorthodox titles such as “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed.” His musical prowess also saw him join the ranks of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1976.

As the 1980s dawned, Friedman channeled his multi-faceted talents into crime novels that contained undertones of his own personality. Later, his astute insights graced the pages of Texas Monthly magazine in a column he penned in the 2000s.

Friedman’s notorious irreverence found new fertile ground in the territory of Texas politics where he ran for governor in 2006, challenging incumbent Republican Rick Perry. Positioning himself as an independent, he launched a campaign beneath the impressive shadow of the Alamo, with the audacious slogan “How Hard Could It Be?”

Critics dismissed Friedman’s political ambitions as another publicity ruse. But Friedman was undeterred, touting a progressive platform that championed legalizing medical marijuana, increasing public education spending via casino gambling revenues, and supporting same-sex marriage. His perks of humor and comedy often infused his campaign, eliciting chuckles and indicating that Friedman meant business under the banner of his most memorable campaign slogan, “He ain’t Kinky, he’s my Governor.”

However, despite his unflinching determination, Friedman bowed out in last place in the gubernatorial race. But his political ambitions were not quelled. He tried his luck again in 2010 and 2014, vying for the post of state agriculture commissioner as a Democrat, albeit unsuccessfully.

Friedman, born Richard Samet Friedman in Chicago, had embraced Texas as his home from an early age. His family’s Echo Hill ranch held a special place in his heart as it ran a camp for children of military veterans who had died in action. As Texans mourn his colorful life, the ranch stands as a testament to the man’s unwavering spirit, Kinkster to the end.