THE STRANGE DEATH OF SAM KINISON

THE STRANGE DEATH OF SAM KINISON

Sam Kinison was born in Yakima, Washington. His parents were Pentecostal preachers who preached in different churches around the country. Sam followed his dad’s footsteps and became a Pentecostal preacher himself after attending Bible School in New York. His sermons were the old style fire and brimstone approach. However, after he and his wife divorced he gave up the ministry and got involved in comedy starting in small clubs in Texas. His comedy style wasn’t unlike his preaching which featured screams and yelling. His reputation was that of a hard drinking loudmouthed wild man. Kinison’s routines involved screaming about the hypocrisy of television evangelist’s with no subject off limits. After appearances at the KinisonComedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Rodney Dangerfield had him appear on an HBO young comedian special in 1984 which launched his comedy career. He later appeared in a Dangerfield film and made recordings of his comic routine. He made appearances in various television programs as an actor and was on the David Letterman and Johnny Carson programs. Howard Stern had him as a frequent guest as well.

With his successful career Kinison got involved in heavy cocaine use as well as alcohol and other drugs, but before his death had been successful in working to overcome the addictions. In addition, his career took a turn for the better and he was negotiating for a television network show at the time of his death. His personal life also took a turn for the better. A week before he died he married Malika, the woman who had been his constant companion for five years. They spent the last week before his death at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Hawaii on their honeymoon. He was reported as being very happy.

On Friday April 10, 1992 about 7:30 pm, Kinison and his wife were driving in a Pontiac Trans-am from Los Angeles to Laughlin, Nevada where he was going to perform before a sold out audience.  He was sober and drug free. Behind his car was his brother Bill and two other assistants in a van with Kinison’s dog. A couple of teenagers in a 1974 Chev truck were approaching the Trans-am on Highway 95 near the California-Nevada border. They had been drinking and the truck crossed the center line.  Sam saw the truck coming at him and managed to slow his car to 15 miles per hour in an effort to avoid a collision.

In the van behind Kinison’s car his brother Bill saw the truck across the center line and yelled out "Watch out for that guy Sam, That guy’s in your lane" and then he screamed: "Watch him Sam! Watch him!"A tremendous crash followed and Bill skidded the van to a stop. He ran to check on his brother. The teenage driver had moderate injuries but his teenage passenger had only minor cuts and bruises. Sam had not been wearing a seat belt and the crash had thrown hm into the windshield. It knocked out Malika, but Kinison managed to get out of the car with what appeared to be only cuts on his lip and forehead.

His brother and the others begged him to lay down and he did with his best friend, Carl LaBove, who had been in the following van. holding his head in his hands. At first it looked like there were no serious injuries to Kinison, but within minutes he suddenly said to no one in particular "I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die."  LaBove later said "it was as if he was having a conversation, talking to some unseen somebody else" some unseen person. Then there was a pause as if Kinison was listening to the other person speak. Then he asked "But why?" and after another pause LaBove heard him clearly say: "Okay, Okay, Okay.’ LaBove said: "The last ‘Okay’ was so soft and at peace…Whatever voice was talking to him gave him the right answer and he just relaxed with it. He said it so sweet, like he was talking to someone he loved." Kinson then lost consciousness. Efforts to resuscitate him failed. Kinison died at the scene from internal injuries. He was just thirty eight years old.

After his death there was a lot of speculation about Sam Kinison's last conversation with an unseen companion and what was being said to him. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

35 thoughts on “THE STRANGE DEATH OF SAM KINISON

  1. I wasn’t a big fan- for several reasons- the first being his mega-decibel delivery. There were too many other funny men out there in a lower key, figuratively and literally.
    His last conversation is absolutely fascinating. I think he received a beautiful gift from someone who loved him very much; someone who eased his fears, helped him understand the journey and welcomed him home. We should all be so fortunate.

  2. I heard the drunken kid that hit Sam was actually complaining about damage to his car, as if he cared more about his material things then someones life… someones life he just took. Ive been looking for comments on if this is true or not. Its just a sad thing that some drunken teenager can take such a bright light off this planet. Sam never wanted to hurt anyone, that wasnt his sthick… he wanted to make people happy. I wonder what happened to the teenager that killed Sam. I dont wish Ill will on nobody but I sincerely hope that kid knows what he did and got punished for it. Some say everything happens for a reason, who knows… Sam was way too funny for this world, we need alot more Sam Kinisons in this world. Back then the world was happier, maybe because Sam was in it is more than just a considence.

    Lots of love to all who arent morons…

    For the morons out there, hope you figure it out before your lifes wasted.

    Be kind, be safe, be happy… takes alot of energy to be an arsehole… Im not sayin become a hippy… just use some common sense, it seems this world is falling apart.

    Make love not war is a great idea except Im a firm believer that stupid people shouldnt breed.

    Maybe Sam was lucky to leave it… this world, all I know is were unlucky to have him gone

    Peace…

    Johan

  3. He was loud and lovable at the same time. He had great delivery and was a talented comedian. No one wants to die in the streets but it seems he was received by an angel and we should all be so lucky. You won’t be forgotten. Diane

  4. I remember this as well My dad was the comic Fats Johnson and he was the the comic in the review in the main showroom. the review was on during the week and the big name acts were in the showroom on the weekends. My dad got a call in his room as he was packing ot leave asking him to stay as Sam had been killed on the hwy heading into town and they were going to run the review over the weekend. we lost Fats june 2007 from a post surgery stroke RIP Sam and Pops….D…

  5. HI MY NAME IS SEBASTIAN PAUL LUVERA THIS IS FOR YOU IM 17 YEARS OF AGE AND TODAY MY MOM AND I WERE WATCHING A BON JOVI VIDEO AND SAM CAME ON THE VIDEO AND MY MOM SAID THAT HE IS SO FUNNY BECAUSE WHEN HE STARTED TALKING AND MY MOM SAID THAT HE’S GOIN TO START YELLING AND SURE ENOUGH HE DID AND WE LOOKED HIM UP ON YOUTUBE AND ALL KINDS OF HIS COMEDY GIGS POP UP AND I WATCHED IT AND I BECAME A FAN THAT INSTANT AND HIS DEATH CAME OUT AND I WAS HURT TO HEAR WHAT HAD HAPPEN TO HIM AND JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT YOUR A LUCKY DUDE TO KNOW HIM PERSONALY TODAY WAS THE FIRST TIME I SAW HIM AND BECAME A FAN FOREVER IN HIS MEMOREY I WILL NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE AND I THINK THAT JESUS CAME FOR HAVEING HIS BACK ALL THE TIME CAUSE THAT WHAT HE SAID ON HIS GIG BLESS HIS HEART

  6. As to Sam being sober and drug free at the time of his death:

    “Besides cocaine, autopsy findings indicate [Sam Kinison] had the prescription tranquilizers Valium and Xantac in his system as well as the prescription painkiller codeine, said Dr. Irving Root, who retired as the San Bernardino County coroner’s chief pathologist in 1991.”

    Source is the L.A. Times:

    http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61627219.html?dids=61627219:61627219&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FThttp://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/61627219.html?dids=61627219:61627219&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT

  7. When my father passed way from cancer, he was lying in the hospital bed at Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs. My sister, who was at his bedside, said that at one point, he began to remove his wrist watch and wedding ring and hand them to her, she said “He seemed to stripping himself of his worldly possessions, then fixed his eyes on what seemed to be a person in front of him. He then slowly reached out both arms as if he were about to embrace someone.” As the physicians attempted to attach a cranial ‘halo’ onto his head to stabilize him, he suddenly stopped breathing, then died. She was convinced he was aware that this was the end of his life, and that a presence there comforted him in his last moments.

  8. I had an experience when my grandfather — also a minister, the same as Sam’s father — passed away. I was the only person who knew he was going to get out of the hospital the next day and booked a Greyhound ticket up to see him and my step-grandmother. When I arrived, my grandparents wanted to know how I knew he’d be out of the hospital. Grandmom insisted we’d not spoken by phone the previous night about Granddad getting out. We started talking after I was picked up at the bus station and he talked about how good his life had been and how he was ready to see Jesus. Grandmom told him not to say such things, then got up and went to the kitchen to make dinner. I went downstairs to change and he went to the bathroom to freshen up. He made it back to his bedroom, had another heart attack and died.

    That, and a few other events in my life, have convinced me that there’s more to our existence than our physical bodies.

    I liked Sam when I first started seeing his acts. I liked his style, but after a few years I grew tired of the screaming.

  9. Um, check out the article. Says the coroner retired in 1991 and Sam died in 1992. Leave a dead man in peace. why do people have to be so ignorant?

  10. You suck. People like you mess with the last memory that people have of great entertainers like Sam. You should just let sleeping dogs lie and stay the hell out of it.

  11. You know I researched because I heard that Sam was screaming that he was burning or on fire when he died…I am glad I have seem to obtain clarity as this article and other articles I have read about the event of his death says the same thing in regards to him saying “okay, okay, okay”. Thank you for this article…I just cannot stand when people LIE about things especially concerning a man’s death…RIP Sam K.

  12. Wild Thing Tour – when I met Sam

    in 88 I was working in radio 93Q in Houston and Sam was on Tour “Wild Thing” the theater he was going to play at was just closed down becaseu the owner ws heavy in to coke. So Sam is stuck in Austin suppose to play Houston in 3 days.and I called his Road Manager and asked if I could help. He said they have called all teh Theaters and cant get in. I told him I could find a place and he said it has to sit at least 2000.
    The coolest club at the time, was club XS and I asked the owner how many he could pack in, he said 2200 without the fire-marshel knowing. So I said what would you give me if I put Sam Kinison in your club in 3 days, he said what do you want? I said 10K he said ok gave me the money and I went back to the station, got the ok from the road manager, and put the promos and spots on the Air.
    Sam came to town and over 5000 people showed up trying to get in. screemeing, going crazy. I dint know what to do huge croud. I pulled these two huge Texas A&M football players out of line and asked them if they want to meet Sam, sick with me and protect my ass all night. So, Sam and I met back stage, he thanked me and we were joking, I learned his Brother lived in Houston and I told him I remember when he used to stand on top of 7-11 stores and screem at everyone they were going to Hell. He and I laughed it up and found out we knew some of the same people. Sam was like the brighest light, the hotest flame, wanted to wow everyone. The show was a hit and we had fun together.
    I met many starz, Jay Leno and I were friends for a while, Pat Swazie, dinners with LLiam Neason, Alice Cooper, singing with Billy and Dusty ZZ TOP, you name it. I was asked to go on comedy tour, LA, San Fran all arround. I dont think I would have been as funny as Sam, the Bright light. –
    I gave up the crazy life of Radio and Holly-weird and lived a normal life going to Church, sutdying God, the bible, helping the poor, kids, underprivilaged Sam went one way and I went the other. we just passed in this life on a road, he going one way and I ending up the other. I respect people who study the Truth and know about God, instead of ignorance, just says thats crazy. Well, Sam knew the Truth never said God did not exist or Jesus but, he lived his life his way. We only have one life its good to know where your going and whats next. RIP Sam, it touches me to hear the story of him talking to God at the end.

  13. Wow, love to hear stories of celebreties that aren’t A-holes in real life for a change. I hope the last words of Sam were a premonition of what lay ahead for him. I hope he’s packing the house up there and lighting the place up like he did down here.

  14. Your were not only a man but a revolutionist. I am a huge Stern fan and have only recently learned who you really were as a man. You lived hard and spoke from the heart. All this week has been a tribute to the late great Sam Kinison on Howard 100 and I got to tell you Sam I have a great respect for you. I was only 12 when you died but learning about your life these days it’s no wonder I have always been drawn to classic movies and show’s like Back to school and the Bundy’s. Ahhhhhhhh!!!!! Though your 20 years gone you still live on!!!!!!!!! Much Love from Georgetown, Ontario, Canada. R.I.P. “The Great Sam Kinison”

  15. I too have been listening to Stern this week. I knew Sam died close to Vegas so I was researching different articles to find the location as I want to go pay my respects this weekend (I drive Hwy 95 often). To honnor of a man who made me laugh in my younger days. Does anyone know if there is a memorial set up in the area for “The Great Sam Kinison”? Thanks for all the stories here in this journal. They have been heart warming for the most part. Unlike someone else I am glad you have this here for us revisit.

    RIP Sam!

  16. I’m going to the site of the accident tomorrow at sunset after work which will be about the time the accident happened. My first fiancée and I saw him live in San Diego about 22 years ago. Someone had the stupidity to heckle Sam during that concert. Well he tore him a new one.

    Ironically at that time in my life she was also the “wild thing” in my life during my early 20s for a couple of years. Now she’s a 50 year old grandmother and unfortunately has MS. I’m going up to see her next week. She’s handling it much better than me. We’ve remained friends for years.

    The accident location is well documented on other sites. US-95 north 3 to 4 miles north of the I-40 interchange. It’s where the road starts to curve up to the left. There are no crosses or markers left which is unusual since it is a popular place for Sam’s fans to visit.

  17. You know what’s strange? There is only one Samuel Kinison in the Social Security Death Index and he died 20 years before Sam Kinison in 1972, if you read the autopsy report carefully, Sam Kinison should have survived the wreck his injuries were bad but survivable.

  18. I thank you for the info surrounding Sams death. I heard many years ago he seemed to be talking to someone else, I just wanted to see if what I heard was true. I really want to believe in God with all my heart. Accounts like this sure give me a lot to ponder. Sam was talking to someone, I prayer it was God. I loved him as a comedian (the only thing I knew of him). Thank you all for your stories. We’ll all find out what’s real soon enough. God bless all of us.

  19. I think probably God said “Sam, you have mocked me enuf after you once knew the way of truth,, I am taking you to judgement” and sam could only say “o.k.”–read Hebrews 9:27,28

  20. I heard Sam many times on Stern in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I will never forget hearing this story for the first time about a year after Sam died, as I was on my way to work, and Sam’s brother Bill was on Stern, telling what had happened. I am pretty sure he said when he got up to the accident, Sam was yelling at the kid who was driving the truck, but stopped suddenly, then fell back, and they caught him and laid him on the ground, shortly before he started having the conversation with somebody they couldn’t see. But I do specifically remember him telling a part of the story not recounted here. He said that their mother had never seen Sam perform, even close to where she lived, which I believe was in Missouri or near there. He said that two weeks before he died, she suddenly flew to the west coast where he was performing. She caught up with him back stage and told him, “Look. Your uncle so-and-so came to me in a dream. He said you don’t have much time, and you need to get your affairs in order.”. I’ll never forget how the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I heard that!

  21. I’m pretty sure that Jesus was insisting that the pizza he was ordering have mushrooms on it. That is why Sam Kinison said “but why?” Jesus is really forceful like that.

  22. Sam Kinison. You were and still are the best! I never laughed so hard since watching Dangerfield. You had a heck of a way of describing things. I too, was faltering in my faith but in reading this…God bless. Thank you to the writer of this article. I too remember hearing of the circumstances regarding his death. Peace.

  23. I think probably God said “Sam, you have mocked me enuf after you once knew the way of truth,, I am taking you to judgement” and sam could only say “o.k.”–

    That would not explain why Sam seemed to be at peace, speaking to someone he loved. If told he was headed for judgement, more likely he’d be pleading for a last chance, not saying, “okay”…

    FWIW, Sam’s brother stated later, in an interview, that Sam had always felt guilty about quitting the ministry, and at the time of his death, was actively planning to return to it. Sounds like repentance to me.

    And perhaps the Lord told him — pure speculation, I admit — that despite his repentance, he’d forfeited all earthly credibility and his ministry would not bear fruit, so, better to just go home. This would explain the peaceful, “Okay…”

  24. We can if we confess our sins and ask Jesus into our heart and confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord!!!!!

  25. Man, that’s not even remotely funny. Hey, as a Christian man, I’m very used to having people around me dog Jesus and those that follow him. It’s water off a duck’s back, to me. No big deal. But really, what you said is just lacking in humor. Go away and try again later.

  26. hi scott i was also dissapointed that there was nothing at the site,so i put a cross near the area so i can stop by and say hi to him,this weekend by the way.

  27. The autopsy report says that he was found lying between the seats in his vehicle and cpr was started by a passerby at the scene and continued in the ambulance. Not sure when he would’ve said what he is supposed to have said. And the autopsy report does show some drugs in his system. If we’re going to discuss things, let’s at least make them true. If you want to skew things to make a point then your point is not a valid one.

  28. Durobs according to the autopsy report he had a torn aorta, multiple ruptured abdominal blood vessels and a broken neck. He was not wearing a seat belt. His injuries were NOT survivable.

  29. in CORINTHIANS I belive……..the LORD will kill a believer physically to save his eternal soul…before he slip slides too far away from the FAITH in his physical body……PRAISE THE LORD…. its seems to me..that is what could of happened here……..who knows…. LORD JESUS HELP ME……I CAN RELATE SOOOO MUCH TO SAM KINISON…I SIN ALL THE TIME.. ONLY TRY TO JUDGE MYSELF….

  30. I loved Sam! I use to throw parties for his HBO or Show performances and he would have everyone hysterical. He is the only man that ever made me pee my pants and literally fall out of a chair laughing. I loved it all, but my all time favorite was the little red Corvette sitting in the drive talking to him, trying to talk him into going down the hill, and how the light pole wasn’t really his fault.

    I cried when Sam left this world and I cried today when I read his last words. I know that regardless of how severe they thought his injuries were, it was his time. I am so glad that he walked this Earth, lived his life to the fullest, brought the word of God to people, and that he was the funniest comedian ever! Sam believed that God would always be there in the end and He was. Sam is a reminder for us that no matter what you say are do, we are all worthy of God’s love. RIP Sam – We love you!

  31. He went so young! Waste of life and talent. I recall he was on ‘Married With Children’ as a guest playing an angel, ironically.

  32. saw sam with pauly shore on cape cod about 18 months before this tragic accident. i was not sam’s biggest fan, but he was unique. who can argue that??

    i also saw the documentary about his death with extensive remarks made by sam’s brother about the moments just before sam’s death.

    what oh what could be more poignant??

    bye sam, we love your ‘exit’ scene.

    and we are desiring your great joys now 23+ years later. rock on sam kinison.

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