Root Boy Slim and Blues Based Mayhem

Image from MTV.On July 9, 1945, Foster McKenzie III, known to punk music fans as Root Boy Slim, was born to a fishmonger in Asheville.

The family moved to Washington D.C. while McKenzie was still a boy. He was in and out of private academies, including the Sidwell Friends School, throughout his youth before being accepted at Yale University. While studying in New Haven, McKenzie formed his first band, Prince La La and the Midnight Creepers.

As a budding musician McKenzie idolized outsiders like Captain Beefheart and placed a premium on shocking his audiences, performing in ermine capes and silver hot pants. He boasted that his band was never asked to make a return engagement. At Yale, McKenzie pledged Delta Kappa Epsilon. George W. Bush, one year younger and then president of the chapter, reportedly banned the musicians from playing the fraternity house.

A new lineup, Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band, signed with Warner Brothers and released their best-known recording, “Boogie ‘Til You Puke” in 1978. Their brand of blues maintained a hardcore cult following, especially in the D.C. area.

McKenzie died in Orlando, Florida, in 1993 and is buried at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher.

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