Mojo Nixon, the rocker, actor, and radio DJ best known for hits such as “Elvis Is Everywhere” and “Don Henley Must Die,” died Wednesday at the age of 66.
His family confirmed his passing with a statement:
Nixon’s participation in the annual Outlaw Country Cruise was in addition to his regular job as a DJ on SiriusXM, hosting the “Loon in the Afternoon” show on the satellite radio network’s Outlaw Country channel. Jeff Cuellar, the CEO of Sixthman, which organized the cruise, said its team is “absolutely devastated” by Nixon’s death in a statement to Rolling Stone. “Our thoughts and hearts are with Mojo’s family and the Outlaw community.”
Nixon was born Neill Kirby McMillan Jr. in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Aug. 2, 1957. Raised in Danville, Va., he was drawn to the sounds of rock and roll, blues, and R&B. He attended college at Miami University then went to London to tap into the punk rock movement, where he found himself merely busking. It was in Denver shortly afterwards where he started playing in the band Zebra 123.
He described his stage name Mojo as being a combination of voodoo and bad politics. He found his home in San Diego where he began performing with Richard Banke, or Skid Roper, in the 1980s. They won a Battle of the Bands contest where the prize was three hours of studio time, and in 1985 the duo released their eponymous debut via Enigma Records. “Elvis is Everywhere” was released as the first single from the 1987 album Bo-Day-Shus!!! It became a hit, launching him into promos for MTV and an Arsenio Hall Show appearance.
When they teamed up with Memphis producer Jim Dickinson, the result was 1989’s Root Hog or Die, which featured the song “Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with my Two-Headed Love Child.” Nixon went solo with Otis in 1990, working with Country Dick Montana and John Doe of X. The album, which featured “Don Henley Must Die,” climbed the charts. During an appearance at Austin’s Hole in the Wall in 1992, Nixon played “Don Henley Must Die,” with the Eagles singer making an impromptu guest spot.
After various acting roles, Nixon returned to music in the 2000s, and from then on balanced DJing with performing. From that point forward, he balanced his DJ job with the occasional concert. A career-spanning box set “The Mojo Manifesto” was released in 2020, coinciding with the release of the documentary The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon, but COVID-19 delayed its South by Southwest premiere into 2022.
Mojo Nixon is survived by his wife, Adaire, and their two sons, Ruben and Rafe, as well as his granddaughter.