Root Boy Slim

Root Boy Slim

Infobox musical artist

Name = Root Boy Slim

Img_capt =
Img_size =
Landscape = Yes
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Foster MacKenzie III
Alias = The Duke of Puke
Born = July 9, 1945
Asheville, North Carolina U.S.
Died = June 8, 1993
Instrument = Vocals, Guitar
Genre = Rock, Southern rock, Blues-rock,
Occupation = Musician, Songwriter
Years_active = 1978 - present
Label = Warner Brothers

Associated_acts = Ron Holloway
Notable_instruments =

Root Boy Slim (born Foster MacKenzie III) (born July 9, 1945 died June 8 1993) Asheville, North Carolina; was an American singer-songwriter who attended Yale University, and afterward settled in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., gaining fame as the frontman for the band Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band.

The band favored a mix of Memphis-style boogie rock/blues and produced six albums. Its most famous recording was "Boogie 'Til You Puke" from the debut album "Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band with the Rootettes", (Warner Brothers, 1978), which also featured "I Used To Be a Radical," "I'm Not Too Old For You," and "(You Broke My) Mood Ring." Another famous recording was the band's holiday favorite: "Christmas at Kmart". Most of the songs were written by MacKenzie, guitarist Ernie Lancaster, and bassist Bob Greenlee. The lyrics often satirized society and mixed in autobiographical elements from MacKenzie's storied life.

He died in his sleep in his home in Orlando, Florida at the age of 48.


MacKenzie grew up in a wealthy household in Washington, DC. His mother was a society matron whose father was a North Carolina congressman who had chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. His father was a landscape architect who designed golf courses.

MacKenzie was an intelligent yet incorrigible youth who was invited to leave several private DC-area prep schools such as Sidwell Friends. He finally found his niche at Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, a boarding school. There, he played varsity football.

He went on to Yale University, where he majored in African American studies, graduating in 1967. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. His fraternity brothers included future President George W. Bush. MacKenzie was a year older than Bush.

While at Yale, MacKenzie formed a band with classmate and fraternity brother Greenlee, who was quarterback of Yale's football team. The band was named Prince La La and the Midnight Creepers. Band members wore ermine capes, silver lame hot pants and boasted that they were never invited for return engagements.

The year after MacKenzie and Greenlee graduated, they returned to the DKE house during Yale's homecoming. Bush, who since their departure had become president of DKE, threw them out and banned them from the house.

Washington, DC

After graduating from Yale, MacKenzie returned to Washington, DC where he worked at various jobs, including one stint driving a Good Humor truck.

One day he took a lot of LSD and went to the White House and climbed the fence. (He later explained that he "was looking for the center of the universe.") He was apprehended by the Secret Service as he ran up the lawn toward the White House. He was the first intruder since the War of 1812 to get completely over the fence.

Following his arrest, he was sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital. This was the first of many visits that he would make in the coming years. The large dose of LSD he had consumed caused a psychotic break that led to schizophrenia, with the result that he would be medicated for the rest of his life.

The Sex Change Band

Following his release from St. Elizabeth's, he reconnected with Greenlee and some other musicians. They recorded songs that found an audience on underground stations in the Washington area, such as WGTB, then the Georgetown University station, and WHFS, then based in Bethesda. Besides Greenlee, who played bass guitar, the other musicians in the Sex Change Band included Ernie Lancaster on guitar, Ron Holloway on tenor saxophone and Winston Kelly on keyboards. Other notable musicians who played in later Root Boy bands include Tom Lepson and Deanna Bogart.

One day in 1977, Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan) was visiting DC and heard the band's version of "Laundromat Blues" on WGTB. He called the station for a copy of the song, and took it back to the west coast and gave it to music producer Gary Katz. Katz signed the band to Warner Brothers Records, which resulted the band's eponymous debut album.

Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band with the Rootettes

In 1978, the band released "Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band with the Rootettes."

During the same year, the band played a date at The Varsity Grill's Back Room in College Park, Maryland, (home of the University of Maryland). A riot ensued and the College Park City Council later banned Root Boy Slim and The Sex Change Band from the city. (The ban was lifted a few years later and they played an engagement at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum). Most of the original band members went their separate ways, reuniting mostly for recording projects. For nightclub performances, Root Boy was backed by a series of other bands, including Ron Holloway and Cryin' Out Loud, New Hope for the Criminally Insane, Capital Offense, and the Barbecue Juiceheads.

Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band's fifth anniversary took place in 1982 at the PsycheDelly in Bethesda, Maryland, and featured home movies of Root Boy, who wore an orange and white checkered 7-Eleven clerk's shirt and a white 10-gallon cowboy hat throughout the concert. The band's 10th anniversary concert took place at The Roxy, a club in downtown Washington. A line formed hours prior to that show and the club's three levels were standing room only. By the time the fourth set began, there were at least 25 musicians on the stage who had recorded or played clubs with Root Boy during his career. That show was also the debut of the "Rich, White, Republican," a biting satiric attack on Republicans that prophesied the eventual election of George H.W. Bush to the White House.


After his death in 1993, the Washington Area Music Association held a memorial concert at The Bayou on K Street in Georgetown. Root Boy fans traveled from as far away as California to pay homage to "The Lenny Bruce of the Blues."


*"Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band with the Rootettes" (Warner Brothers Records, 1978)
*"Zoom" (IRS Records 1979)
*"Dog Secrets" (Congressional Records, 1983)
*"Don't Let This Happen to You" (Kingsnake, 1987)
*"Left for Dead" (Kingsnake, 1987)
*"Root 6" (Ichiban, 1990)

Band members, etc.

* Ron Holloway - Tenor Saxophone
* [ Ernie “Sex Ray” Lancaster] - Guitar
* Bob "Rattlesnake" Greenlee - Bass
* The Rootettes
* Walt Andrews of Daytona Beach, FL - Steel Guitar
* Gary Katz - Producer


*cite web|url=
title=Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame 2004
work=Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame Archives
date= 2004
publisher=Washington Area Music Association

*cite web|url=
title=Root Boy Slim & the Sex Change Band gullbuy review
work=gullbuy New Sound Review
date=3 June 2003

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