Today would have been Sam Kinison’s 65th birthday. The comedy legend died in a drunk driving accident in 1992 at the tragically young age of 38. On his way to a sold-out show, his car was struck by a teenaged drunk driver. Kinison was a beloved comic known for his larger-than-life stage presence and primal yell. He would scream into the microphone and run around the stage with unmatched intensity. His death rocked the comedy world and his memory still lives on. Just last year, a documentary was made about his life called I Am Sam Kinison.
In honor of his would-be birthday, we are bringing you a list of 10 facts about the comedy legend that you might not have known.
1). Prior to becoming a comedian, he tried to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a preacher. He actually preached from age 17 to 24 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His brother Bill said that “ironically, he had no stage presence” as a preacher and hated the aspect of having to raise money.
2) He started comedy in Houston, Texas by taking a one-week class on stand-up.
3) A known abuser of drugs, his first drink wasn’t until age 25.
4) After a performance at The Annex comedy club in Houston, Kinison broke a stool. He then took the broken stool and smashed it, resulting in the club banning him. He then tied himself to a sign for a local convenience store across the street from the club. The comedian tied himself up in a crucifixion pose and dressed as Jesus. He caused such a commotion that The Annex un-banned him. His first show back, he broke another stool.
5) Kinison loved rock music. He appeared in the music videos for Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine and Mötley Crüe’s Kickstart My Heart. He lent his voice to The Kid Goes Wild by Babylon A.D. and his voice can also be heard in Anthrax’s 1987 song I’m the Man. Remixed and almost unintelligible, you can hear him scream, “Dick in your mouth all day!” multiple times in Run D.M.C.’s Beats to the Rhyme. He also recorded a novelty version of Wild Thing, the music video for which was a hit on MTV.
6) When Kinison first moved to Los Angeles, he was employed as a doorman.
7) He has an on-air fight with Howard Stern after he promised to bring Bon Jovi, but they didn’t show. The two eventually made up, but not before Stern and comedian Gilbert Gottfried ridiculed a phone call he had made to Stern on-air. After Kinison’s death, Stern purchased the movie rights to Kinison’s biography written by the Back To School star’s brother. In 2008, it was reported that HBO would make the biopic with Kinison played by Dan Fogler, but it was never made (though an epic screen test was leaked to the public). Later Josh Gad was also attached to the biopic.
8) At the time of his death, he was set to be in films with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Moranis.
10) He was hit by a truck twice in his lifetime, first when he was three-years-old. He survived that incident, but it left him with some brain damage and some say it shifted his personality.
The world misses you, Sam. If you’re feeling sentimental, watch the screen test below and get chills watching Fogler’s Kinison.