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Born December 8, 1953 in Peoria, Illinois, Samuel Burl Kinison was the son of a Pentecostal preacher. At the age of 15, he was sent to a seminary but ran away and drifted for a while. Then he rediscovered God and started to preach in tent revivals all over the South, but by 1978 Sam started thinking and wanting to say things that weren't acceptable to a congregation. "I used to be a preacher, I used to be a minister, and people think I changed overnight, and I didn't. It wasn't like I just woke up one day and said, 'HEY, FORGET THE BIBLE! WHERE'S THE PARTY?' It was a little more gradual than that, it took a little more time, it took a lot of women to disillusion me."

He became a stand-up comedian, and by 1984 appeared on the HBO special "Rodney Dangerfield: It's Not Easy Being Me" with several other comedians. With an appearance in Dangerfield's Back to School, several appearances on Saturday Night Live, his first album Louder than Hell, and his own HBO one-hour special, Kinison built up a reputation for his screaming delivery and offensive-to-many subject matter. Have You Seen Me Lately? included not only outrageous comedy but his version of the Troggs' "Wild Thing", the video for which included lots of heavy metal stars as well as Jessica Hahn, who he had made fun of on the album.

United Artists got him to star in a film, Atuk, but then wouldn't accept his rewrites or his attitude, shut down the production, and then tried to sue him. The next album, Leader of the Banned was half rock and half comedy but didn't produce a song as popular as "Wild Thing," though Kinison wanted to tour with an all-star band backing him.

By 1990 he was trying to stop drinking, appearing in a Fox sitcom "Charlie Hoover" (which didn't last long), and even toning down some of his stand-up. On April 10, 1992, five days after marrying his third wife, Malika Souiri, who as his girlfriend had helped him get clean and sober, the new Mr. and Mrs. Kinison driving home when they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Sam was killed but Malika survived.

Sam is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his gravestone says "In another time and place he would have been called prophet." His friends remember him as a compassionate man. "Sam was a man with a big heart. He was a teddy bear, a big naughty kid." -- Ozzy Osbourne

Sources: mostly www.kinison.com, also http://www.findagrave.com/pictures/1282.html

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