Atlanta’s “Intergalactic Cowboy” Has Died

Atlanta musician Max Holliman passed away on August 3rd at Riverside Health and Rehab, following a long illness. He was 62.

Born in Atlanta, Holliman was raised in Thomaston, and as a young adult studied Transpersonal Psychology at Emory and the University of West Georgia. A guitarist, composer and genuine oddball, Max’s first local group of note was The Nobz, an early Atlanta punk band as notorious for their outfits and wild theatrics as their music. Their other guitar player, Tim Troutman, had lost a leg in an auto accident and wore prosthetics. During their song “Disco Chainsaw,” he’d saw off his hollow “leg,” complete with stage blood, to the shock or amusement of audience members, depending on whether they were in on the joke. Their song “Negroes Ate My Sandwich” – though an instrumental aside from howls from their original singer, Chastain, dancing in a giant foam rubber sandwich – would never be allowed to exist in these uptight, politically correct times.

By the 1980s, Holliman was drawn to the techniques of musician Robert Fripp of King Crimson, and began taking Fripp’s “Guitar Craft” courses and performing with the League of Crafty Guitarists. Duly inspired, Holliman did time as a member of Atlanta-based crafty guitar quartet The Yeamanstouts.

In 1994 Holliman reemerged under the persona The Intergalactic Cowboy, a strange one-man act combining electronic music trickery with a country & western image and occasional, meandering new agey lyrics. Performing solo on guitar, he would use sound loops to create deeply layered sonic beds over which he would sing weird, minimalist, deadpan songs while wearing a rodeo getup and stoic expression. He released numerous CDs under that name. In 2003, Holliman returned to Thomaston, and taught guitar throughout the surrounding area.