Root Boy was born Foster MacKenzie III. As his real name might indicate, he was raised in a wealth family, in private schools and eventually at Yale.* But Root Boy was too wild to stick with his WASP upbringing; he loved being outrageous and shoking and soon was fronting a blues band.
After school, he moved home to the Washington, DC area** and formed “Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band” which developed a reputation for bizarrely theatrical shows and songs about politics an culture.
A self-published record was noticed by Warner Brothers Records, and Root Boy was signed to a contract. The single was the delightful “Christmas at Kmart.”
The album was filled with songs scornfully commenting on the current scene. The most successful song was “Boogie ‘Til You Puke,” a scathing takedown of the college disco scene. Other songs included “I Used to be a Radical,’' “Dare to be Fat,” and “You Broke My Mood Ring.” Toot Boy had a growly blues voice*** and looked far from a rock star. His songs were fairly witty, but though the album had some airplay, it was not a success.
After that, Root Boy went from record company to record company, with various band changes,**** but little success. Their last original album came out in 1990; Root Boy died in 1993.
*Where he was a fraternity brother of George W. Bush, a year younger than him. Bush banned him from the fraternity house when he returned after graduation.
**Once, high on LSD, he jumped the White House fence and actually made it to the door. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
***Similar to Captain Beefheart, though the Captain was a far more original songwriter.
****He once appeared in the Albany area as “Root Boy Slim and the Black Silk Stockings.”