Mojo Nixon

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Mojo Nixon performing live at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas (2006). Photo: Ron Baker.

Mojo Nixon , born Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. on August 2, 1957 in Chapel Hill , North Carolina , is an American psychobilly , rock 'n' roll and roots rock musician. His raw, unpolished style of music is sometimes referred to as trailer park rock. Nixon became known, among other things, because of his numerous allusions to other musicians, politicians and celebrities in the cultural business in his songs and video clips .

Childhood and youth

Even in his childhood, McMillan was enthusiastic about pop and rock music (especially the Beatles and Velvet Underground ), heavy metal and rock 'n' roll. As a teenager he practiced with a drum kit in the basement of his parents' apartment. Parallel to his musical enthusiasm, he developed a pronounced, anti- establishment political awareness. At the age of 14 he took part in a local political action. After being arrested, he made threats against the city's mayor. There were also arguments within the family.

After his eighteenth birthday, McMillan graduated from Miami University in Oxford , Ohio with a degree in Politics and History . After graduating, he moved to England in the hope of finding a connection to the punk music scene around the band The Clash . The project failed. In order to stay afloat, McMillan was forced to play as a street musician on the London Underground . In 1980 he returned to the USA and signed up in Denver , Colorado , with the NGO Volunteers in Service to America ( AmeriCorps VISTA ), which focused on poverty reduction. During his time at VISTA he made occasional appearances in front of the unemployed with songs by Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly . In addition, he founded a punk band called "Zebra 123". The group soon came into conflict with the authorities over a slapstick reenactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on the anniversary of the assassination attempt.

In 1981 McMillan moved again, this time to San Diego , California . There he made friends with local roots, independent and alternative rock musicians such as Country Dick Montana , who acted as a kind of mentor for McMillian. During his time in San Diego, McMillan chose his new stage name Mojo Nixon. The trigger for the name change, according to Nixon, was a stay in New Orleans , where he had a kind of mystical-musical experience. "Mojo" is symbolic of dirty, unpolished rock 'n' roll, while the surname "Nixon" stands for bad politics. During this time he began working with Skid Roper , a drummer who was often forced to improvise due to a lack of financial resources. When Dick Montana Nixon went over when putting together his new band The Beat Farmers , he moved back to North Carolina and worked there as a ranger in a state park . However, after an accident in which he nearly drowned, Nixon decided to return to California.

Musical career

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper (1985 to 1989)

Back in California, Nixon formed a duo with Skid Roper. Until 1989 - over four albums and several EPs - the two acted under the name Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper. While Nixon took over the front part with lyrics, expressive vocals and guitar , the multi-instrumentalist Roper stayed in the background. The two Trouser Press music journalists Dave Sheridan and Ira Robbins characterized the roles of the two as follows: Roper is the down-to-earth, rhythm-and-blues- arrested counterpart to Nixon's often hysterical socio-political comments. The first album entitled Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper was released in 1985 on the independent label Enigma Records. Just like the follow-up albums, the debut featured roots rock, rock 'n' roll, folk , blues and country with minimalist instrumentation: guitar, washboard , bass , mandolin , various percussion instruments and harmonica .

The first single - Jesus At McDonald’s - opened the series of personal text allusions that soon became an essential trademark of Mojo Nixon's music. In 1986 a mini-LP followed with the title Get Out of My Way . Stuffin 'Martha's muffin , a song with a long pre-text in the Sixties beat - and Soul sound , picked up in satirical and parodic form Martha Quinn a bead, a well-known video jockey on MTV . The second full album, Frenzy from 1986, contained, among other things, a cover interpretation of the rock music classic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly . A special feature of Frenzy was the targeted use of a background choir - an ad hoc studio formation called The Bigfoot Choir. The third album, Bo-Day-Shus !!! from 1987, Elvis Is Everywhere contained not just another person code, but a number that became one of the most famous Nixon pieces.

With the fourth album - Root Hog or Die! from 1989 - on the one hand the attention of the music press increased, on the other hand the conflicts due to the parodies contained on it. These were reinforced by the music clips published at the same time. In particular, the clip for rock 'n' roll number Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child sparked intermittent controversy with MTV. Reason: The broadcaster was hesitant to include the clip in its official program. In this, Winona Ryder parodied the well-known Broadway actress Debbie Gibson in the form of a simulation of a birth, the result of which is a fur-clad doll with two heads. The music recording and clip by (619) 239-KING also fluctuated between ode and parody . Content here: a satirical exaggeration of the star cult around the dead rock 'n' roll star Elvis Presley. Furthermore, Root Hog or Die! a cover interpretation of the Woody Guthrie classic This Land Is Your Land .

Solo career (from 1990)

In 1990 Nixon separated from Roper to pursue a career as a soloist. Meanwhile, a further component in Mojo Nixon's career were supporting roles in films . In 1989 he played the band drummer James Van Eaton in the Jerry Lee Lewis film adaptation of Great Balls Of Fire . The first solo album under the title Otis was released that same year. Lyrically, Otis also contained several titles that are devoted to other musicians or celebrities in a satirical and polemical way. In Don Henley Must Die he dealt with the well-known musician and Eagles singer Don Henley , in the Irish folk number Shane's Dentist with the dental problems of the ex- Pogues singer Shane MacGowan . In terms of ensemble, Nixon worked from then on with full rock band lineups. Other musicians on Otis included Southern rock guitarist Bill Davis, Country Dick Montana from Beat Farmers and Eric Roscoe Ambel from Del Lords.

The musical sound of the solo albums was significantly harder than that of the duo albums from the 1980s. The bankruptcy of the former record label Enigma Records and the resulting legally unclear situation of the backlist material from the time with Skid Roper turned out to be a problem at the beginning of his solo career. Nevertheless, several albums were released in the course of the 1990s, some declared as solo albums, some recorded with a permanent formation, the Toadliquors. In terms of allusions to characters and parodies, as well as the clarity of the texts, Nixon reinforced the direction previously taken. Examples: the title Bring Me the Head of David Geffen as well as perhaps the toughest Nixon piece to date, Tie My Pecker to My Leg , a parody number about sodomy , incest and coprophilia recorded in the style of Country Joe & The Fish . Critics rated the 1996 album Whereabouts Unknown as a highlight . With the piece The Ballad of Country Dick it contained, among other things, a musical dedication to the former musician and friend Country Dick Montana, who died of a heart attack during a live performance .

From the mid-1990s Mojo Nixon worked with various musicians, including Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys , the singer-songwriter and roots rock musician Dave Alvin and members of the Beat Farmers. On Whereabouts Unknown followed by two more regular albums and - in 2003 - that in the form of MP3 selbstdistributierte -Files album Mojo Nixon Live at the Casbah 12/28/2003. In 2004 Mojo Nixon officially retired from the music business. The last live show for the time being took place on March 20th at the Continental Club in Austin , Texas . In 2009 Mojo Nixon came back with a new regular album. As a promotional campaign for the new recording Whiskey Rebellion on the one hand and as an expression of sympathy for file-sharing practices on the other hand, he offered several albums free of charge on Amazon in October 2009 . In 2012 he made several reunion appearances with Skid Roper.

other activities

Parallel to his career as a musician, Mojo Nixon repeatedly took on supporting roles in films. In addition to the role in Great Balls of Fire in 1989, he completed between 1990 and 2006 various guest appearances on film productions, including the computer game film version Super Mario Bros. and the sitcom - television series Car 54, Where Are You? . In addition to his band projects and film roles Mojo Nixon worked as since the late 1990s Radio - DJ among others in San Diego (at KGB-FM) and in Cincinnati (in WEB-FM). In addition, he played three shows in 2008 on the pay radio satellite broadcaster Sirius Satellite Radio .

Politically, Mojo Nixon is an explicit advocate of the idea of ​​file sharing and free download options. In July 2000 he also admitted this position to the public. Nixon's reasoning: credibility; he doesn't want to be "an asshole like Metallica " . In practice, he implemented the self-imposed claim by making early albums available free of charge as MP3s as part of the marketing of the 2009 album Whiskey Rebellion . Politically, Mojo Nixon is a supporter of the Libertarian Party . In addition, he supported - among other things with the song Kinky Is Everywhere - the candidacy of Kinky Friedman for the post of governor of Texas in 2006 .


In a broader sense, Mojo Nixon is usually assigned to roots rock, a heterogeneous style genre located between country, blues, folk and alternative rock, which is characterized above all by an unaffected, raw style of playing that is strongly oriented towards the rock music of the 1960s . In particular by alternative rock-related music magazines, Mojo Nixon's productions were constantly presented as idiosyncratic, original and successful and referred to him on various occasions. Music critic Ira Robbins in Entertainment Weekly on Otis : “Trailer-Park Rock has never had a more enthusiastic proponent than Mojo Nixon. In the course of five playful albums with evil humor, he has developed a remarkable ability to either praise symbols of trash culture in the sky or to abuse them. "

The Cologne music magazine Intro summed up its enthusiasm for the 1995 publication Whereabouts Unknown with the following words: “The return of the incredible hillybilly! The world's best white Richard Pruyor voice imitator is back at the start solo after his interim collaboration with Jello Biafra. The topics are, as usual, the size of his sexual organ, alcohol and social grievances in the motherland of rock'n'roll. ” The German-speaking Rolling Stone on the album The Real Sock Ray Blue! Texas Prison Field Recordings Vol. 3: “Mojo Nixon is back! And this time we meet him again on another label. 14 albums on nine different labels speak a clear language for this rioter who always opens his mouth as wide as he can. "

The magazine of the Süddeutsche Zeitung made an unusual connection - namely that of the 2009 Bundestag election campaign . Music column writer Johannes Waechter listed the piece Love Me, I'm A Liberal 2009 as one of seven titles that succinctly summed up the situation of the liberals of the FDP , who are usually more remote from pop culture .


Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper

  • Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper (1985; Enigma Records)
  • Frenzy (1986; Restless Records, Enigma Records)
  • Get Out of My Way! (1986; EP; Restless Records)
  • Bo-Day-Shus !!! (1987; Enigma Records)
  • Root Hog or Die (1989; Enigma Records)
  • Unlimited Everything (1990; Enigma Records)

Solo / with The Toadliquors

  • Otis (1990; Enigma Records)
  • Horny Holidays! (1992; Triple X Records )
  • Whereabouts Unknown (1995; Ripe Records)
  • Gadzooks !!! The Homemade Bootleg (1997; Needletime)
  • The Real Sock Ray Blue! Texas Prison Field Recordings Vol. 3 (1999; Shanachie)
  • Mojo Nixon Live at the Casbah 12/28/2003 (2003; self-distribution as MP3 files)
  • Whiskey Rebellion (2009; self-distribution)

With others

  • Prairie Home Invasion (with Jello Biafra ) (1994; Alternative Tentacles)
  • Live in Las Vegas (Pleasure Barons) (with the Pleasure Barons) (1994)


  • The Essential Mojo Nixon (2011; Freedom Records)


  • Great Balls of Fire (1989)
  • Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever (1990)
  • Super Mario Bros. (1993)
  • Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
  • Raney (1997)
  • The Wholesale (1998)
  • Buttcrack (1998)
  • A Four Course Meal (2006)


  1. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper , David Sheridan, Ira Robbins, Trouser Press, accessed January 28, 2015 (Engl.)
  2. ^ Mojo Nixon Sets His Music Free ., accessed January 29, 2015
  3. Mojo Gets His Kinky Up! ( Memento of the original from January 31, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Note on (official website of Kinky Friedman), accessed January 29, 2015 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Otis , Ira Robbins, Entertainment Weekly, Sept. 7, 1990 (Engl.)
  5. Whereabouts Unknown - Mojo Nixon  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Intro, September 10, 1995@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  6. Mojo Nixon & The Toadliquors - Sock Ray Blues  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Rolling Stone, article teaser, accessed January 28, 2015@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. The seven best songs about the FDP ( Memento of the original from January 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Johannes Waechter, magazine of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, September 2009 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

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