Mojo Nixon, Cult Hero Behind ‘Elvis Is Everywhere,’ Dead at 66


Mojo Nixon, a brash and unapologetic musician, actor and radio DJ, died of a “heart attack” on Wednesday, February 7, his family confirmed to rolling stone. He was 66 years old. Nixon was aboard the Outlaw Country Cruise, an annual music cruise where he was a co-host and regular performer.

“August 2, 1957 – February 7, 2024 Mojo Nixon. The way you live is the way you should die. Mojo Nixon was hard as a rock, fully reclined, wide open, hog-root, turn on two wheels + on fire…,” his family shared in a statement to rolling stone. “Come on after a flamboyant show, a wild night, close the bar, take no prisoners + a good breakfast with bandmates and friends.

“A cardiac event on the Outlaw Country Cruise is pretty much normal…and that's exactly how it did, Mojo left the building,” his family's statement continued. “Since Elvis is everywhere, we know he was waiting for him in the alley. Heaven help us all.

Nixon had an extremely strange but singular career after he and his former partner, Skid Roper, had a bizarre breakthrough in 1987 with their new hit “Elvis Is Everywhere.” A deranged bit of cowpunk/rockabilliy pastiche that honored (and slightly skewered) the King of Rock and Roll's die-hard fans, “Elvis Is Everywhere” and its charming, low-budget video became an unexpected MTV staple.

Nixon and Roper recorded six albums together in the 1980s; after their split, Nixon launched his own career, releasing a bunch of solo albums and a handful of collaborative LPs (including one with Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys). He also worked as an actor and radio DJ, eventually becoming a regular presence on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country channel in the mid-2000s, where he was known as “The Loon in the Afternoon.”

“We are absolutely devastated,” said Jeff Cuellar, CEO of Sixthman, which organized the Outlaw Country Cruise. “Our thoughts and hearts are with Mojo’s family and the Outlaw community.”

Unsurprisingly, for an artist always willing to go as far as possible, Nixon was a deeply committed defender of free speech and an opponent of censorship. He debated CD parental warnings with Pat Buchanan at a press conference. appearance on CNN Crossfire in the 1990s.

In an interview with rolling stone Last year, Nixon got to the heart of his credo when he declared: “I firmly believe that you can make fun of anything as long as your joke is funny.” And I also believe that you can say anything, as long as you are prepared to suffer the consequences. We don't need a thought police.

Nixon was born Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. on August 2, 1957, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but grew up in Danville, Virginia. THE biography on his website rightly blurs the line between fact and fiction, but, generally speaking, paints a portrait of a childhood fascinated by music (he cites hearing Arthur Conley's “Sweet Soul Music” as the moment “The music claims its soul and Satan crawls in its end”).

After graduating from college in the late '70s, Nixon briefly moved to London to try to break into the punk scene, before returning to the United States and settling in Denver. There he played in a band called Zebra 123 which reportedly attracted the attention of the Secret Service for playing a concert called “Assassination Ball” which featured a poster with the exploding heads of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

Eventually, Nixon moved to San Diego and met his Country “de-mentor” Dick Montana (of the Beat Farmers). While on a cross-country bicycle trip, he had an epiphany and gave him his stage name, Mojo Nixon, described as: “Mojo = Voodoo Nixon = Bad Politics.”

In 1983, Nixon and Roper teamed up and began making music, releasing their self-titled debut album in 1985. The duo gradually attracted a cult following through frequent touring and wild songs like “Burn Down the Malls “, “Jesus at McDonald's”, and “Stuffin' Martha's Muffin” (about MTV VJ Martha Quinn).

Their breakthrough with “Elvis Is Everywhere” (from the 1987 album) Bo-Day-Shus!!!) not only allowed Nixon and Roper to perform regularly on MTV, but also led the network to tap Nixon to film numerous promotional spots. Soon they appeared on The Arsenio Hall show and getting Wynona Ryder to star in the video for “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child.” (MTV refused to air it.)

After parting ways with Roper, Nixon began recording his solo debut in 1990, Otislinking up with Country Dick Montana and John Doe of X. His ambitions were great, as he said rolling stone: “I wanted to have a band and I wanted to compete with the Replacements, the Blasters and Los Lobos.”

The album attracted a lot of attention and the song “Don Henley Must Die” reached #20 on the Modern Rock charts. (The famous prickly Henley even seemed to like it, play it live with Nixon in 1992). But OtisThe momentum was halted after Nixon's label, Enigma Records, went bankrupt.

Nixon stayed busy with a variety of musical projects throughout the '90s, while also branching out into other areas. His first acting role was the 1989 Jerry Lee Lewis biopic, Large balls of fire, in which he played drummer James Van Eaton; his other acting credits included the 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. the film and the comedy Car 54, Where are you?. He then got gigs as a radio DJ in Cincinnati and San Diego, before landing his longtime spot on SiriusXM in the early 2000s.

Nixon was the honorary “captain” of the Team USA men's doubles luge team at the 1998 Winter Olympics, recording a theme song, “Luge Team USA” under the moniker Arctic Evel Kneivels. The two lugers he supported, Chris Thorpe and Gordy Sheer, won silver.

Tendency

While hosting various SiriusXM shows became his main role in the 2000s, Nixon returned to music occasionally, releasing an album of unreleased tracks, Whiskey Rebellionin 2009. A long-running documentary, The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixonfinally had its premiere at SXSW 2022 before being widely released last year.

“People think of me as a novelty artist or like, 'Oh, it's a cartoon.' And that’s very good,” Nixon said Rolling stone, distilling the essence and appeal of his work. “I don’t want to be taken seriously. I am a cult artist.



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