Mojo Nixon, ‘Elvis Is Everywhere’ Singer, Dies on Country Music Cruise

Mojo Nixon, the alternative musician, actor and DJ, known for the 1987 novelty hit “Elvis Is Everywhere” has died. He was 66.

Nixon, whose real name is Neill Kirby McMillan Jr., was found dead today onboard the annual Outlaw Country Cruise, where he was regular presence both as a performer and co-host. He had performed just the night before — the photo above is from that performance.

The cause was cardiac event, according to his family.

“August 2, 1957 — February 7, 2024 Mojo Nixon. How you live is how you should die. Mojo Nixon was full-tilt, wide-open rock hard, root hog, corner on two wheels + on fire…,” his family said in a statement on Facebook. “Passing after a blazing show, a raging night, closing the bar, taking no prisoners + a good breakfast with bandmates and friends.

“A cardiac event on the Outlaw Country Cruise is about right… & that’s just how he did it, Mojo has left the building,” the statement continued. “Since Elvis is everywhere, we know he was waiting for him in the alley out back. Heaven help us all.”

Born in North Carolina, raised in Virginia, schooled in Ohio, and after traveling to England, Nixon first started playing music in Denver in a punk band known as Zebra 123. “A lot of people had the same idea simultaneously,” Nixon said in an interview for the 2020 career-spanning boxed set, “The Mojo Manifesto.” “I’m gonna take roots music and I’m gonna infuse it with the energy and excitement of punk rock.” As for his early band’s music, Nixon said, “It was Jerry Lee Lewis on more speed. Not just speed, but more speed. A lot of things sounded like the Clash, but even faster and stupider.”

After Zebra 123 flamed out, Nixon moved south to San Diego, where Country Dick Montana’s pre-Beat Farmers band, the Snuggle Bunnies “adopted me as their pet,” Nixon recalled. “I was kind like their adult nephew.” Soon he hooked up with Richard Banke, better known as Skid Roper, a multi-instrumentalist who favored a washboard. Together they won a Battle of the Bands contest and were crowned the Best New Band in San Diego. Their prize – three hours of studio time at Soundtrax Studio in San Diego. “They thought we’d buy three more,” Nixon recalled. “but oh no, we cut three songs, overdubbed and mixed them and we were done in three hours.”

The duo soon landed a contract with Los Angeles-based indie label Enigma records, which released their 1985 debut, “Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper.” Nixon’s breakthrough came with the 1987 album “Bo-Day-Shus!!!,” which featured the opening track, “Elvis Is Everywhere.” The song’s video garnered play on MTV and earned him a spot performing on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” where the crowd was given cardboard Elvis masks to wear during his performance.

“Before ‘Elvis is Everywhere’ there were just a lot of dudes at the Mojo show,” Nixon said. “It’s a sausage fest, and the women that are there are there in protest. ‘Yes, I’ll go and drive your drunk ass home if you go and watch this Jodie Foster movie with me.’ But after ‘Elvis Is Everywhere’ actual women came on their own, not coerced by their drunk husbands.”

Nixon went on to record several other albums, both as a solo artist and with other collaborators, including the Toadliquors and Jello Biafra. With his revved-up version of punky-rockabilly, he often skewered pop music figures in songs such as “Don Henley Must Die,” “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child” and “Bring Me the Head of David Geffen.”

He veered into acting with 1989’s Jerry Lee Lewis biopic, “Great Balls of Fire,” in which he was cast as drummer James Van Eaton. He also scored parts in the 1993 live-action “Super Mario Bros.” film and the and in a movie update of “Car 54, Where Are You?”

Eventually, he shifted his focus to radio with local gigs in Cincinnati and San Diego before landing a job with SiriusXM.

Nixon summed up his career thus: “Mojo Nixon wanted to be Richard Pryor. He’s like Richard Pryor’s stupid cousin if he was white and played in a rockabilly band. I’d say things that simultaneously shocked people and spoke the truth.

“I don’t have that much talent, but what I do have is an enormous amount of enthusiasm,” he continued. “As Mr. Rotten used to call it, ‘An unlimited supply!!!’”

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