Richard F. "Kinky" Friedman, (born October 31, 1944 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American singer, songwriter, novelist and politician. Born in Chicago to Jewish parents, Friedman's family moved to a ranch in central Texas during his childhood. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts, double-majoring in Psychology and Plan II Honors. He then served two years with the Peace Corps in Borneo and other areas of the southwest Pacific Ocean.
Friedman originally found cult fame as a country and western singer. His repertoire mixed social commentary ("We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To You") and maudlin ballads ("Western Union Wire") with raucous humor (such as "Get Your Biscuits In The Oven and Your Buns In Bed"). His "Ride'em Jewboy" was an extended tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Friedman was a musical guest on 'Saturday Night Live' in October 1976.
After his music career stalled in the 1980s, Friedman found a new lease on life as a detective novelist. His books have similarities to his music, featuring a fictionalized version of himself solving crimes in New York City and dispensing jokes, wisdom, Texan charm and Jameson's whiskey in equal measure. They are written in a straightforward style which owes a debt to Raymond Chandler. Friedman has also written a regular column for the magazine 'Texas Monthly' since April 2001, although it has been suspended during his run for governor of Texas; his last essay appeared in the March 2005 issue.
In the early 1980s, Friedman ran a semi-serious campaign for Justice of the Peace in Kerrville, Texas, but lost the election. In 2004, Friedman began a serious campaign to become the Governor of Texas in 2010.
Friedman currently lives at Echo Hill Ranch, his family's summer camp near Kerrville, Texas, just outside of Medina. He also founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, whose mission is to care for stray, abused and aging animals; more than 1,000 dogs have been saved from euthanasia.
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