Tuesday, April 10, 2012

4.10.12 Hero of the Day: Sam Kinison

Bee-otch of the Day honors are awarded Monday through Thursday, Bee-otch of the Week is awarded Friday on Chuck69.com.

Name: Sam Kinison
Age: would have been 58 
Occupation: comedian
Last Seen: somewhere out there
Awarded For: being a true comedy influence 20 years after his death


If February 3, 1959 was the day the music died, then March 1992 was the month the laughter ended.

It was that month that two of comedy's greatest said their last jokes. A horrific car accident took from us the great Sam Kinison, the former Pentecostal preacher who used his fire and brimstone methods to entertain arena-sized crowds around the world. Born into a deeply religious family, Kinison spent most of the 1970's spreading God's word through yelling and screaming, but after being burned out, he turned to comedy in the late 70's. He got his big break in 1984 on a Rodney Dangerfield young comedians special, which led to many TV appearances and even another Rodney Dangerfield project, the 1986 film classic Back to School.

Of course, armed with his wild blonde hair and bandana, the somewhat portly Kinison made many appearances on Late Night With David Letterman and (you guessed it) Howard Stern's show. He even became a regular on MTV, where his rendition of the 1960's rock classic "Wild Thing" was thrown into heavy rotation.

As the 1990's loomed, Kinison's career was only looking brighter. He had movie deals and even a role on a short-lived Fox sitcom called Charlie Hoover. But tragically, a drunk teenager took it all away.

On this date 20 years ago, Sam and his wife Malika - whom he married just five days before - were driving down US 95 near Needles, CA in his Pontiac Trans Am when a 17 year-old man smacked his vehicle head-on with his pickup truck. Reportedly, the 17-year-old, who had been drinking rushed out and told Kinison, "look at my truck!" while Kinison collapsed, asking God "why me?" Shortly afterward, Kinison passed on.

The 17-year-old was charged with vehicular manslaughter, but Kinison himself did have cocaine and tranquilizers in his system. Like many entertainers, Kinison fought his demons, and just when the demons were gone, they came back.

It would be fun to imagine if Kinison were still alive today. We all could have used him during the last 20 years, cracking jokes about Bush like he did to the religious right back in the 80's. However, it would be scary to wonder if he would have gone back to the Pentecostal roots his parents gave him.

But thankfully, we'll always savor the memories. In his short career, Sam left us with many great routines and ideas that would make us think about the problems we have today. True, I was a wee lad of 10 when he died, but thankfully, I appreciate him now more than I did back then.

Kinison is buried in Tulsa, where he spent a portion of his childhood. His gravestone reads "in another time and place, he would have been called prophet." 

Amen to that.

Got a Bee-otch to nominate? E-mail us @ chuck69dotcom@gmail.com. All suggestions (except for me) are welcome! 
Bee-otch of the Day Archives can be seen on http://beeotchoftheday.blogspot.com!
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