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Country icon, novelist, former Texas governor candidate dies at 79

Flowers on a casket. (Unsplash)

Country singer-songwriter and novelist Kinky Friedman, who was known for his satirical musings and Texas gubernatorial run, has died. He was 79.

Friedman died “peacefully at his home in his sleep” early Thursday morning at Echo Hill Ranch in Medina, Texas, according to a Facebook post from his friend, Kent Perkins. Friedman had Parkinson’s disease, The Texas Tribune reports.

“Kinky Friedman stepped on a rainbow at his beloved Echo Hill surrounded by family & friends,” read a statement posted Thursday on Friedman’s official X account. “Kinkster endured tremendous pain & unthinkable loss in recent years but he never lost his fighting spirit and quick wit. Kinky will live on as his books are read and his songs are sung.”

Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman was born in Chicago in 1944 – though reports vary whether his birthday was Oct. 31 or Nov. 1. A musician known for his signature curly hair, black cowboy hat and cigar in hand, Friedman rose to stardom in the early 1970s when he formed Kinky Friedman and The Texas Jewboys, a satirical country band known for hit songs including “Ride ‘em Jewboy,” “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.”

Friedman later became a writer and published more than a dozen novels, including “Elvis, Jesus, and Coca-Cola,” “Greenwich Killing Time,” and “A Case of Lone Star.” He also published a monthly column at Texas Monthly, according to Rolling Stone.

In 2006, Friedman campaigned for governor of Texas, running as an independent against incumbent Republican Rick Perry. Friedman finished fourth in the race with 12.4% of the vote while Perry won with 39% of the vote. Years later, he also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Texas agriculture commissioner in 2010 and 2014, according to The Texas Tribune.

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