RIP Bootsey X

November 29, 2013
By

Bootsey X cover

We’re sad to report that Bootsey X, real name Robert Mulrooney, has passed away after a long struggle with brain cancer.

Details have yet to be confirmed, but it appears that Bootsey passed on the evening of Thursday, November 28, Thanksgiving.

Bootsey X was a true rock star, the Pusherman of Love and a Genius from the Waist Down. He may not have received the attention that he deserved outside of Detroit, but here in the Motor City he was and is adored.

Bill Holdship wrote a cover feature about Bootsey back in April 2010. Holdship wrote, “In the mid-to-late ’80s, a Bootsey X & the Lovemasters performance was akin to seeing Iggy Stooge fronting a James Brown & His Famous Flames Revue — that is, if both the Godfathers of Soul and Punk had even greater senses of humor … plus, everything else such a concept would involve (with flashes of George Clinton’s Funkadelic and Sly & the Family Stone, both of which were psychedelicized versions of the Brown revue anyway). The act came complete with horns, keyboards, a jive-talking emcee (who doubled on sax), and the ever-present — and ever-hot — Sugarbabes of Soul.

Bootsey X will be remembered as a tremendous front man and an absolute gentleman. We’ll miss you, sir.

On a personal note, Bootsey X performed at the launch party for my Stooges bio in 2011, and he was wonderful that evening. I’m eternally grateful to have known him, if all too briefly.

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  • Dan Boyd

    Thanks Brett. We miss him very much already. I remember the show during your book launch, it was indeed a good one. Thanks for enlightening the masses to appreciate the genius of Robert Mulrooney.

  • Some dude

    He was a genius from the WAIST down.

  • Randy Burbach

    Very nice. Sad. On another note, I think Mr. Mulrooney would be amused to find out that news of his passing got turned into a bunch of “Bootsey Collins died” posts

  • Edjusyou

    RIP Bob.

  • Shades

    RIP to the Privates Investigator!

  • Greasy Carlisi

    Bob was one funny motherf@@ker. Gigs with him were always special because you never knew what was gonna come out of his mouth between songs. I wasn’t a permanent member, but if I was needed and could be there, I would be because it was never about the money. Boot was a great lyricist, and Gerald Shohan original riffs were magic. So many Great Musicians, [so many there isn't enough room to mention them all] feel the same way I do I’m sure. I want to thank all those people who made his last few years comfortable as possible by throwing several benefits, finding him shelter, and just being there to take care of him till the end. R.I.P and this town won’t ever quite be the same without you.

  • john pineau

    That is sad and terrible news. Bob was a gentleman and the conductor of a funky, sexy stage riot. He was like no other.

  • Mark Oppat

    An original , Detroit rock legend. I did sound and lighting for several of Bob’s gigs in the late 80′s, including the legendary Mr. Christian’s gigs in Royal Oak, the peak of the original Lovemasters. What a wild time that was. Not sure how it happened, but I met him around 1974, we traded records when I was a senior at Stevenson HS in Livonia, his home town. Bob introduced me to the Detroit underground rock scene that turned into Punk very quickly. He was always ready to take you somewhere new, or help you discover something old… both in the dark corners of the city of Detroit that he loved, and musically. As a drummer for many bands (Deviates, Coldcock, Ramrods, et al) before he created the “Bootsey X” personna, he was always ahead of the pack..,a powerhouse drummer who knew to keep it moving forward, and he wanted to show you the way.

    As I look back, Bob should have been an internet DJ. Too loose for over the air radio, his razor-sharp wit and un-checked opinions would have been a great “Detroit” centered rock show ! Just imagine him interviewing Iggy or Kim Fowley or Alice Cooper or Nathaniel Mayer or Detroit Wheels drummer Johnny B. Badanjek…. I bet ol’ Bob would have had them laughing and revealing many un-told stories. Bob always had a new line on something. His flatter-than-Romulus Midwest voice was unique. You could hear him laugh in any crowd. He once told me he lost a job because he couldn’t find his clothes ! I realized later that he meant some kind of uniform, But for years I thought, how ironic… Bob needed “clothes” for a day job… because he sure knew how to dress at night. He was a real Detroit original “Pusherman of Love”. RIP, Bootsey,

  • Tom Lynch

    The first time I laid eyes on the character known as Bootsey X was at a Tremor Records Revue at St. Andrews Hall in late 1985. Cynicide was finishing up their set and I was down front. I looked to the stage left wing and there is this guy in what looked like a silver lame’ suit, immaculately coiffed, Ray Ban shades on, wolfish grin in place,finger popping with a chic on each arm. I couldn’t get over this vision, “WHO THE HELL IS THAT?!” was reverberating in my head. Then, Bootsey took the stage,I mean TOOK IT. There were some fine bands that night but The Lovemasters walked off with Best In Show no question. Three years later, I was introduced to Robert Mulrooney my co-worker at Sam’s Jams. Bob started a little bit ahead of me so we were both the new guys on staff. We had no idea at the time that we would be the last two guys to run the used LP department. But in January of 1988 I was thrilled to be in the midst of the daytime hub of the Detroit music scene. Chris Flanagan was our go to supervisor at Sam’s and soon Tony Fusco and Paulie Licota would join the ranks. Along with Mike Murphy, Bill Rowe and Jason Schusterbaugher I was in a gang of Record Store Wise Guys. Honorary members included Jim Shaw and Dave Hutzle. This experience has served as the defining moment of my life. And Robert was a massive part of it all. That first year, I called him Robert on the clock. Then I guess I was accepted as a True Believer and then I could call him Bob. I was bombarded with pre-internet FREE education from so many of these guys, and Bob was my instructor in the many shades of Soul. Bob’s passion for the music of Swamp Dogg was infectious. Bob’s reverence of Syl Johnson and Ted Taylor became my reverence for both men. When it was uncool to speak the name Ike Turner and sing his praises,Bob did that, because it was about the music,not about Ike’s flaws. Bob had me so gone on James Brown, whenever we had the chance to commandeer the turntable at work it was an hour or two of deep LP cuts of JB to many peoples irritation. Bob asked me if the band I was in would like to open for The Lovemasters. Imagine my answer. My band got to play a number of opening slots at Alvin’s & Lilli’s with Bootsey , the experience was second to none. Getting the nod from Bob and his band was an incredible boost, I felt like I was doing something. And Bob was a generator of that kind of goodwill that keeps a music scene ,that is pitched against incredible odds, tight and neighborly. Bob was always the guy who could tell you everything about any new club or any old dive that something was happening or had been happening at one time. And everyone came by Sam’s all week long and shopped and traded news,views, and reviews with Bob. Art Lyzak,Bob’s long time friend and guitarist Gerald Shohan, Steve King, Michael Clark, Phil Carlisi, Ricky Rat- you’d think the place was the Musicians Union! And the women,too. Eventually, Bob and I played together in Rocket 455 with Jeff Meier,Mark Walz, and Dan Kroha. It was a very good band. And the experience playing with Bob on drums was like no other. Anyone who saw this line up of the band will tell you how special it was and I think we all knew that having Bob on drums was receiving and continuing a legacy. The Flame. One of the greatest pleasures in my life working with those guys. After Sam’s closed ,Bob went to Car City Records and was encouraging me to follow him [always with the encouragement!], and eventually I did. The reunion was short lived,and Bob started working at Desirable Discs in Dearborn. Then I eventually went to work for a record store in San Francisco. Bob and I stayed in loose contact over the years. For a short while there was radio silence. And I’ll always feel bad for not checking in when Bob’s world was upside down. When I was going through a living hell,Bob had kind words and a shoulder to cry on. The last three years we reconnected and it was with both deep concern and black humor. Bob had many lists of recordings and films he was looking for and I was more then happy to hunt them down and ship them out. Bob was blown away by the remastered Procol Harum A Salty Dog . In October this year, a recent facehoozle posting from Bob sounded sad and blue. I sent him the latest issue of Shindig! with an interview with Swamp Dogg [who I just had recently seen live and blew me completely away!], the reprint of Josh Alan Friedman’s tawdry tome of ’70′s NYC sleaze Tales Of Times Square, and the autobiography by Tommy James The Mob,Money,And Me. Bob sent me a thank you card, our last communication. Gratitude. Bob, I’m so grateful to you. A kind,decent man with too much soul. Thank you for your love and friendship. -Tom Lynch, December 1,2014 Oakland,California

  • Bob Wilson

    Iconic eqauls, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers descending the staircase to take the stage at Bookies and Bob sauntering down McNichols toward Bookies, case of drumsticks in hand.

  • Kevin Leeser

    Tom, nicely put. thanks, goosebumps. Kevin Leeser, Full Moon regular, Rocherster of ’88.

  • patriot_act

    Truly sad. I met Robert years ago when he worked at Sam’s Jams. He had a self deprecating vision of himself in the Detroit scene, but a big supporter as well. I had hours of conversation with him + later caught up with him at Desirable Discs. Time + distance kept me away, but I was happy to see his name in the press (in a positive way) from time to time. A few weeks ago his name came up + I was able to jot a not to him via FaceBook. He answered and I was pleased that he remembered me or at least gave his best to fake it. He will be missed!

  • patriot_act

    Great memories! Thanks for filling in my gaps!!

  • Michael Bolan

    You are SO correct Tom! Thanks for your obit for Bob.

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