Mojo Nixon, who blended roots and punk rock, dies at 66

Mojo Nixon was a singer, songwriter, and radio host known for his provocative shots of celebrity culture like the 1987 hit “Elvis Is Everywhere” and the poignant 1986 song “Elvis Presley” A social commentary that catapulted itself from the fringes of underground music in the 1980s into the national spotlight. He is 66 years old.

Matt Eskey, the director of “The Mojo Manifesto,” the 2020 documentary about Mr. Nixon, confirmed his death. He said Mr Nickerson suffered a “heart attack” while sleeping while the Outlaw Country cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He lives in suburban Cincinnati.

A statement posted on the film’s official Facebook page said Mr Nickerson died “after an intense performance, a night of rage, closing the bar and taking no prisoners”.

Mr. Nickerson became a sensation in the 1980s for bringing together a variety of American eccentricities — the manic energy of Jerry Lee Lewis, the anti-establishment politics of punk rock, the 1970s the antics of Elvis Presley and the pious theatrics of televangelists—and then spit. Debbie Gibson is pregnant with my two-headed son.”

His musical style is primarily psych, fusing punk, country and rock with heavy basslines, stage theatrics and a host of cultural detritus such as B-movies, hot rods and motorcycle gangs.

His music can often be heard on radio low-end, college radio and other raw alternative rock shows, alongside bands like Dread Zeppelin, Jello Biafra, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys – many of whom he has played with. Come.

As director David Lynch does in the film, Mr. Nickerson sought to convey the deep idiosyncrasies of America as Reagan-era conservatism set the tone for much of the country’s culture. But unlike Mr. Lynch’s thoughtful and terrifying work, Mr. Nickerson’s is topical, profane and in-your-face.

“I’m a provocateur, a humorous social commentator in a rock and roll setting,” he told The New York Times in 1990. In another interview with the paper, he described himself as “doomed, damned ,Strange.

Even his stage name — his real name is Neal MacMillan — is a mash-up from opposite ends of American culture: “Mojo” is synonymous with uncontrolled sexual energy, popularized by the Doors in their songs “LA Woman” and “Nixon, as Richard M. said, for many people represented all the hypocrisy and corruption of cultural conservatism.

He told The Times he came up with the name while drinking in a bar while cycling across the United States in 1983. He said he chose the word because “these two words should not go together.”

Mr. Nickerson is sometimes considered a parody artist, a practitioner of the kind of cliche, obscene songs that blues and country artists call gibberish (such as Johnny Cash’s “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart”).

But his songs are sharper than that, often expressing overtly populist sentiments: “I hate banks,” “Burn down the malls,” and “Destroy all the lawyers.” Even his songs aimed at hitmakers like Don Henley and Debbie Gibson were actually aimed at the music industry that produced and sold them—he also wrote a song called “Gimme David G. “Fin’s Head” song.

His crude lyrics are more than just plain humor. At a time when issues of music censorship and taste dominate congressional hearings and news magazine covers, he joins the likes of rap group 2 Live Crew and comedian Andrew Dice Clay in taking issue with what they consider to be sanctimonious Hypocrisy expresses dissatisfaction.

In 1990, he even went on CNN’s low-key public affairs program “Crossfire” to debate conservative commentator Pat Buchanan over whether warning labels should be placed on records with explicit lyrics.

Whether he was completely serious or it was just an act, where Neil MacMillan ends and Mojo Nixon begins, it’s always been part of the mythology he spun.

“I just want to be a small part of the great American crazy myth,” he said in 2017. Crazy job in a suburban small town story.

Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. was born on August 2, 1957, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to Mary McMillan and Neill McMillan . His father owned a radio station that played soul music. When Neil was a child, the family moved to Danville, Virginia.

He grew up listening to proto-punk music like the Beatles and Jerry Lee Lewis and the MC5. He also cultivated his own silly anarchism—at age 14, he was arrested after protesting alone against Danville’s leash law under the banner “Free the Dogs.”

Nickerson attended Miami University in Ohio, and after graduating with a degree in political science in 1979, he moved to London, where he tried to break into the city’s punk scene but ended up playing country songs in the city’s bars.

He returned to the United States to join Vista, a domestic service agency similar to the Peace Corps, and was assigned to Denver. There, he formed the punk band Zebra 123, which he describes as “The Clash meets Jerry Lee Lewis.” The group aroused Secret Service suspicion after performing “The Assassination Ball” on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.

He later moved to San Diego, where he began performing with his close friend Richard Banke, better known as Skid Roper. Skid Roper, who plays washboard and mandolin. Their third album, Bo-Day-Shus!!!, was their first to chart nationally, thanks to the satirical song “Elvis Is Everywhere”.

The song claimed Elvis Presley was responsible for everything from building the pyramids to making ships disappear in the Bermuda Triangle, and its accompanying video caught the attention of MTV, which landed him an occasional hosting role in 1988 people.

Mr. Nickerson subsequently recorded several albums, both alone and with other collaborators, including the backup group Toadliquors. In recent years, he hosted the show “Loons in the Afternoon” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Outlaw Country channel.

He is survived by his wife, Adaire McMillan; his sons, Rafe Cannonball McMillan and Ruben McMillan; sister, Jane Holden McMillan; brother, Arthur Rhys McMillan; Lun; and a granddaughter.

Mr. Nickerson officially retired from the music industry in 2004, but he has repeatedly released and promoted compilation albums without retiring. He has also appeared in several major films: he played Jerry Lee Lewis’s drummer James Van Eaton in “Balls of Fire” and had roles in Super Mario Bros. (1993) and the 1994 adaptation of the 1960s TV show He played a small role in the movie “Super Mario Bros.”

Mr. Nickerson rarely spoiled his character during his decades-long acting career, but one thing stood out to his legions of fans.

In 1992, he was on stage with the Toadliquors at the Hole in the Wall venue in Austin, Texas, when someone told him that he had sang a verse to the Eagles’ Don Henley on a more popular song. (Don Henley) made a crude slur and now he’s on the show.

In 2014, he told the Austin Statesman: “I took the guitar off, put it back on, did that three times, and then got on the microphone and said, ‘Don, do you want to debate? Do you want to have a fist fight? ?

Instead, Mr. Henley joined him on stage to sing “Don Henley Must Die,” which included lines like: “You and your kind are killing rock ‘n’ roll/It’s not because you’re old/It’s because you have no soul.” !

Mr. Henry seemed to know it by heart, and when they got to the chorus, Mr. Nickerson let him take over, singing, “Don Henry must die, don’t let him get back together with Glenn Frey!”

When the song ended, Mr. Henry shook hands with the band and left the bar. Mr. Nickerson then led the Toadliquors in a cover of the Eagles’ hit “Already Gone.”

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