Memories of DJ/Musician Mojo Nixon (1957-2024)

Mojo Nixon was an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek psychobilly singer and songwriter known for pop culture-skewering songs like "Elvis is Everywhere" and "Don Henley Must Die" and for being name-dropped in the Dead Milkmen cult favorite "Punk Rock Girl."

Memories of Mojo:

"Mojo was a comet of person,  but he was also very thoughtful.He looked after the people he played on the radio and was an americana mentor. He was one of the people architects of the genre as an artist and a person” - Todd Snider

"When Bill Crawford and I did The Live Show broadcast during SXSW in 1989, Mojo was our special guest. Early Mojo was a funny guy but not the way-over-the-top persona most folks knew him as.  He was sharp, witty and fearless about saying stuff no one else would. A year later, my friend Jim Dickinson produced Mojo's first solo album Otis after Mojo split from Skid Roper, the one with “Don Henley Must Die” that was recorded in Memphis. Dickinson was showing me around his trailer home and Zebra Studios in Senatobia, Mississippi a few years later, name-dropping Dylan,  Toots, the Replacements and other acts he’d produced. But h estopped and paused when it came to Kirby, as Dickinson addressed him. “Now there’s an artist,” he said almost sentimentally, an emotion Jim Dickinson was not known for showing. He referred to other recording studio clients as ‘victims.’ Mojo Nixon stood apart and alone." - Joe Nick Patoski

"I have a lot of fun Mojo memories, but the weirdest - and my favorite - is the time that, out of boredom, he told his listeners that I had checked myself into a mental institution in Wyoming to recover from a nervous breakdown. I was on vacation in Florida feeling relatively sane at the time, but he must have sounded sincere because tons of friends and fans reached out to check on me. It was the most press I had had in years. The Houston Press called me and then ran a story with my favorite headline ever…"Hayes Carll Is Not In a Mental Institution, says Hayes Carll.'” - Hayes Carll

"My fave memory may always be the last show he played. It was absolute, pure rock-n-roll fire. The whole band, Mojo, Pete, Matt, and Jesse Dayton’s drummer, whose name I cannot recall at this moment. It was incredible. Seeing him right after he was smiling like a dog chasing a cat, wild eyed, sparkling, glowing with love in the moment. I’ll always remember that mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was the king who preferred to be the jester.”  - Kevin Russell/Shinyribs

"What I admired about Mojo  was his institutional knowledge of  the radio and music  business. I remember once he said, "All that's left on AM now is hate." He could tell stories like how Dickey Betts saved the Allman Brothers with " Ramblin Man." There was a lot more to the guy besides that manic persona.” - Long Haul Paul

"Mojo had me, Justin Townes Earle, Joe Ely and Gurf Morlix on the show for one segment. We all passed around a guitar and played songs. He was as lively and rambunctious as I remember him being on stage years before in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Mojo was a force of Rock and Roll nature.” - Tim Easton

"My favorite memory of Mojo was the day I met him. He was hosting his annual SXSW coverage for Outlaw Country in his room at the San Jose. I was not working for SiriusXM at the time. I was just another artist on that relentless press junket. Right off the bat he said, "I hear you can dance like a hillbilly." I pulled my clogging shoes out of my purse, laced up and commenced to stomping on the floor, I'm sure to the absolute dismay of every single other guest in the hotel. It was SO loud. Mojo got down on his knees at my feet and beat the floor with his hands while letting out a series of hoots and hollers. It was the most fun I had the whole time I was there.” - Elizabeth Cook

"I remember, showing up for an interview with Mojo at the San Jose Hotel one South by Southwest. He didn't see me sit down across the table from him before he growled to the guy next to him,'I don't feel like doing any fuckin' interviews today.' It was 'We Can't Make it Here' era. I guess I got political during the interview. He later told Kellie, 'I could have killed him. That shit ain't funny.' Probably wasn't funny, but I was supposed to be God's own protest songster at that time. I did my best.” - James McMurtry

"In the late 1980s I met Mojo and Skid at the Continental Club. His first show there was under-attended but that just made Mojo work harder. It was the first time I saw an artist abandon the stage and take over the dance floor. He demanded your attention, not by being a jerk but by being really funny and compelling. He was one of a kind and I’ll miss him."  - Casey Monahan

"Interestingly, I think Mojo loved the Folk Alliance. I sat in on a meeting with Mojo and Louis Meyers when Louis was looking for a  good city to move FA to when it had outgrown Memphis. Mojo was very convincing that San Diego should be the place to go. Of course, the FA board wanted it to stay in the central US, but Mojo’s enthusiasm for San Diego was something to witness. Leaping around the room, strong emphasis with his hands and loud positive voice about every little thing that was cool about San Diego. I reckon he was always so!" - Mike Stewart“Mojo Nixon was the first person to play my father Kent Finlay on the radio - SiriusXM Outlaw Country.  It was the day Dad died, Texas Independence Day, 2015.  We were all gathered around the radio - me, Brian T., James McMurtry and Kellie Salome, Jon Dee Graham and some others. Mojo opened the show in his unmistakable Mono way: 'Kent Finlay: DEAD!' And in my grief and daze, I go, 'Boy, I’m glad I called everybody already…people would be running off the road.' But Mojo did a beautiful job paying tribute to my father, playing songs off a record Todd Snider and Brian and I eventually put out on our Eight 30 Records and Aimless Records called I’ve Written Some Life.

"Later at one SXSW, I was standing in the back of the Continental Club at Mojo’s Mayhem next to the great man himself and asked him how SX was treating him that year. He said, 'Well Jenni, I don’t really know. I shit my pants on Wednesday.' I laughed with him and said, 'Well at least you got that out of the way right out of the gate. Like eating a lizard first thing in the morning - nothing worse can happen after that.' He replied, 'Well that’s the thing…I really don’t know - I don’t remember Thursday…' Mojo was a true character and a wonderful lovable soul that the world will certainly miss.” - Jenni Finlay 

"I was a little apprehensive about appearing on Mojo’s radio show. Wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep up with his energy. But when I entered the studio he was friendly and professional, and within a minute or two we were talking about how much we both loved Don Walser. It was smooth sailing from there.“ - Slaid Cleaves

"I had a few quiet sit-down discussions with the man known as Kirby, but I had many more occasions where I just listened to the man called Mojo. Every year (for several years) attending the AMA conference meant you got a ticket to the big Awards show. Despite the top-notch talent on the stage, the real show was in the Lobby. Mojo came in his best Hawaiian shirt, with Bullethead by his side, and Tepper satelliting in and out of the scene, with all his great stories loaded into the cue in his brain, and he’d wait for someone to walk by in a particular band shirt or mention a specific artist, and then, like the drug-addled bastard child of Jerry Clower, he’d wind up his story telling gears and slay everyone in listening range. It was the perfect field for Mojo, as his stories ran the gamut of west coast Cowpunkabilly weirdness, and he had his days at MTV in his back pocket as well. The BEST stories however, came with a look over his shoulder and a hushed tone. ('I was constantly trying to get hold of her back in the day and her husband does not care for me at all!') Those little asides punctuated already great stories, with the little personal embellishments said only for those of us in direct ear shot. He’d drop into a normal voice for more somber topics, but often follow that with a loud Mojo-esque capper, to let you know he wasn’t TOO broken up about anything. He was the Ringmaster MC. He teetered on the verge of being obscene every chance he got. I don’t recall him ever being mean-spirited to anyone around him, as long as you weren’t the topic of any of his songs that is. Even then, a spited subject like Don Henley, could find it in his heart to climb on stage with Mojo and help sing along. That is one of my favorite Mojo stories, which I believe he covers in The Mojo Manifesto documentary. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with Mojo on the interwebs. Youtube has many moments of Mojo Mayhem, and I believe the doc is on Amazon at present. Gonna miss you Mojo. Keep ‘em tucked up in them Daisy Dukes till you get past the gate keeper." - Swank*
"I was in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest around 1993 when a guy from USA Today took a picture of me walking down the street. I had this full beard and crazy jacket. They ran the picture in the newspaper the next day but confused me with Roky fucking Erickson. The headline said, “Texas legend Roky Erickson walks the streets of South by Southwest.” I’m not sure if that says I’m crazy or Roky’s crazy. Who’s supposed to be offended here? The guys from my band made a t-shirt that they sold with the picture: “Mojo Nixon Mistaken for Roky Erickson.” The shirt looked like the front page of the USA Today with the photo of me looking like I was pretending to be Roky. I mean, I was proud to be mistaken for Roky Erickson, but it does say something about how fucking high I was.” - Mojo Nixon (Excerpt from True Love Cast Out All Evil - The Songwriting Legacy of Roky Erickson 
"I'm positive there will be more and more Mojo stories circling around the globe for an enternity. Oh the stories we could tell...In the end, we are all just stories that live on an on as they are told and re-told again and again. And so, there is no doubt that Mojo will live on forever." - Jenni Finlay

Compiled by Jenni Finlay