Mojo Nixon, “Don Henley Must Die” from Otis (1990): One Track Mind

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Just about any time that Don Henley opens his mouth these days, either to blast fans for using smartphones at concerts or to sue someone, I think about Mojo Nixon.

For those who may be unfamiliar, Mojo Nixon once declared his holy trinity to be Elvis Presley, Looney Tunes character Foghorn Leghorn and Andy Griffith Show town drunk Otis Campbell. His music sounds pretty much like what you’d expect from that statement. It’s loud, obnoxious, twangy, in-your-face and a whole lot of fun.

Nixon has always been an ardent supporter of independent thought and music, and he released a string of songs in the late 1980s and early 1990s skewering the darlings of the MTV era, including “Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child,” “Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin” and, of course, “Don Henley Must Die.” The latter tune pokes fun at Henley’s uber-serious songs from the late 1980s. It begins with the line, “He’s a tortured artist, used to be in the Eagles / Now he whines like a wounded beagle.”

It gets more scathing from there as Mojo goes on to list some of Henley’s perceived sins against rock ‘n’ roll, concluding with Mojo offering the advice, “Don’t be afraid of fun, loosen up your ponytail / Be wild, young, free and dumb, get your head outta your tail.” That might still be fitting advice for Henley. At one point in “Don Henley Must Die,” Nixon’s guitarist launches into an off-kilter version of the guitar solo from “Hotel California” — to which Nixon responds by yelling “Quit playing that crap. You’re out of the band.”

Considering his disposition to sue and complain these days, it seems that Don Henley was surprisingly tolerant of the song, though some of the lyrics are viciously pointed. Nixon even tells a story of Henley joining him on stage at a small club to sing the tune in the mid-’90s. While it was rumored that Nixon changed the song to “Rick Astley Must Die” for that performance, he’s said in more recent interviews that they sang the original. and Henley was most interested in the line that says “don’t let him get back together with Glenn Frey.”

I could go on about Mojo Nixon. There’s his clairvoyance, as he also sang “Put a Sex Mo-Sheen in the White House” on Otis a few years before we actually did. There’s his deep love of Elvis, NASCAR and pretty much anything else redneck that spans his career. There’s his strong belief in independent voices in music, which he’s followed up on with a Sirius/XM radio show that gives those voices exposure.

Sadly, the best way to experience Mojo Nixon is a rare occurrence these days, as he’s semi-retired and only occasionally does a live show, but there’s always any one of his albums, and Otis is as good a place as any to start. Just be sure to leave any touchy-feely-sensitive and easily offended parts of your personality at the door.

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse
Fred Phillips
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  • Mike Hunt

    Excellent article, thanks! Another notable Mojo Nixon moment was when he declared his support for music piracy because he’s “not an asshole like Metallica!”