Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper: A Duo of Satirical Swagger

Looking at the life and times of Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, a musical duo that united country and humor with rock 'n' punk attitude.
This Land is Your Land
This Land is Your Land / Mojo Nixon - Topic

I have written about Mojo Nixon as a solo artist before, but this time I want to briefly go over the years he existed as part of a cult classic musical duo. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper was an American music duo known for their unique blend of rock, punk, country, and blues. The duo consisted of Mojo Nixon (born Neill Kirby McMillan Jr.) and Skid Roper (born Richard Banke). They gained popularity in the 1980s and were known for their high-energy performances and typically humorous, audacious lyrics.

Mojo Nixon, the vocalist and guitarist who died on February 7, 2024, was known for his raspy, gravelly voice and his irreverent and satirical songwriting style in which he'd lay out his opinions, often as if he was an everyman's "spiritual guru" of sorts. Skid Roper, on the other hand, played various instruments including washboard, harmonica, and other unconventional percussions, adding a distinct sound to their music. The duo released their debut album, Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper, in 1985.

The album features their signature blend of genres and showcases their raw, energetic approach to music. It includes tracks like "Jesus at McDonald's" and "Moanin' With Your Mama". They'd follow this album up with tracks like "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin," from the album Frenzy, and the best of album Unlimited Everything. Their album Get Out of My Way! (1986) features the rebellious "I Hate Banks," which articulates some thoughts people typically don't share regarding financial institutions we are under immense structural pressure to use.

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper's greatest hit

Their fourth album, Bo-Day-Shus!!, was released in 1987 and further solidified their reputation as a unique and humorous musical act. This album features the popular single "Elvis is Everywhere," which became one of their most well-known songs. It may just be the mother of all pro-Elvis anthems.

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper continued to release albums throughout the 1980s, including Root Hog or Die"(1989), until Mojo launched his career as a solo entity with the album Otis (1990). That album's likely named after Otis Campbell, the town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show (Mojo Nixon once proclaimed that his personal holy trinity consisted of Presley, Foghorn Leghorn, and Otis Campbell).

The breakup and reunions

Though the duo disbanded, they briefly reunited in the 2000s for a few live performances, to recapture the raw punk musical ethos of "if they can do it so can I." Their music is indeed often characterized by its satirical and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, addressing a variety of topics such as politics, sex, popular culture, and everyday life.

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper's unique style and their ability to combine different musical genres have earned them a dedicated fanbase and influenced numerous artists in the alternative rock and punk scenes. Shortly before Mojo's death, there was a documentary about him released titled The Mojo Manifesto: The Life and Times of Mojo Nixon. Mojo Nixon occasionally had musical collaborators called "the Toadliquors," and they did one album with punk icon Jello Biafra titled Prairie Home Invasion.

One of Mojo's quotes bears repeating, at least when it comes to capturing the feel of his music: "History has shown that when people listen to my music, money tends to flow to bartenders, race tracks, late night greasy spoons, bail bondsman, go-kart tracks, tractor pulls, football games, peep shows, and several black market vices. My music causes itches that it usually takes some money to scratch."