Can I get a Witness
Bootsey X through the eyes of others
The first time I saw Bootsey X & the Lovemasters play was in the summer of '85 at Paycheck's. I was completely blown away, to say the least. I remember trying to describe them to my friends at the time: "They're kind of like the J. Geils Band gone new wave but with a killer sense of humor. ..." To me, so much of the "Bootsey" personality was sooo Detroit — from the musical attitude and showmanship right down to the sense of humor, which to me fit in perfectly with the CREEM style.
I got it right away and loved every minute.
I later met him at Sam's Jams and became somewhat of a casual friend. But I never thought that I would end up playing with him in the Lovemasters for all of these years.
Back in about '92 or so, the then-current Trash Brats drummer starting playing in the Lovemasters. I was jealous! I told him to tell Bob that if they ever needed a second guitarist, I was their man. I couldn't believe when I did finally get the honor of playing with them. To be alongside Bootsey and Gerald and the gang. ... Wow! I felt like I was being let into a special Detroit Rock 'n' Roll Club. To this day, I still feel special to know Bob and to have been able to share a stage with him so many times.
Sometimes I don't think he really realizes how much the "Bootsey" part of his personality means to so many people. People just love Bootsey! He really is a special guy and has brought so much joy and smiles to so many people. I have learned so much about music, performing and just myself from being around Bob. Sometimes he is not the easiest guy to be a band with — but for the most part, it has been a fun and exciting ride. —Ricky Rat, Trash Brat and Lovemaster
Like everybody else, I love the guy. Freddy Fortune and I put out his "Hot Pants Power" 45 on our Happy Hour Records label in the early '90s. What a monster slab! The great thing about that record — and anything else I ever heard from Bob — is that you can put it on 15 years later and it still has legs. That's because it's genuine. Probably 90 percent of what passes for rock today is really just empty pantomime — kids aping what they think it is because the real-deal is a dying breed. Bootsey is the real deal. He has gut-level rock 'n' roll instincts and genuine brass-knuckles heart. In the 15 years I've been watching him do his thing, I've never tired of it. —Wendy Case artist, musician, journalist
Bootsey X! I first met him when I asked a roomful of musicians at Jim Diamond's Ghetto Studios in 1997 "Who can play ‘Wipe Out' and ‘Gloria'?" Bootsey could, so he became my drummer and we recorded "Michigan Babylon" for the Detroit Electric label. This was pre-White Stripes and Electric Six. Bootsey X had — and has — great taste in women. Check out all the girls on his various albums. I approve. I didn't realize it at the time, but Bootsey X was the drummer for the Ramrods. A GOD record! —Kim Fowley, legend
I remember him wearing some sweet silver jacket and silver makeup at the bar, and he was just hanging out. I told an old friend from high school that he was Iggy Pop and she got drunk and believed me and started hugging and kissing him. That really amused me and made me very happy. He tried to get me a job at the record store he worked at when I was 19, but the lady that interviewed me wanted me full time. I was only looking for part time so I could rock the other half of the time. He helped me pick out some records that day, one of which was Rocket 455. The first time I saw Bootsey X & the Lovemasters was at the Gold Dollar. At that point, he was already a seasoned glam rocker. He is the coolest!" —Marcie Bolen, musician (Silverghost)
When I first met him, he was Bob Mulrooney, a brash, younger guy from Livonia. I was from Livonia too, and playing bass for the Mutants. I didn't know, of course, that Bob would morph into Bootsey X, the Handsomest Man in Rock, and would end up doing a stint drumming for ... hello! ... the Mutants.
As loopy as the Mutants could be, which was plenty, Bob fit right in. It was during his time that we mastered "The Thrill of Maurice," an ambitious tribute to someone [guitarist] Tom Morwatts made up, who smeared Parmesan cheese all over himself. It's doubtful we could've played it live without Bob, who was a sort of Maurice himself.
If Bob wasn't the best-liked man on the Detroit scene, he had to be in the Top Two. I don't think I've ever met anyone who oozed such a combination of charisma and goodwill, and could self-promote with such self-deprecation. You could tell early on that drumming was too limited of a gig for Bob, and that he'd need at least an entire stage to push all the love he was destined to push.
Oh, fuck it; he was in the Top One. (P.S. Can you send me an address where I can send a donation to Bob's medical fund? Even though I keep hearing Sean Hannity describe American medical care as "the best in the world" — pre-Obamacare — I guess a few have slipped through the cracks. Go figure!) —John Amore, former Mutants bassist (aka J. Kordosh, CREEM editor)
A handful of years ago Nick Pivot (the Funk Divot) organized an acoustic night at Club Bart in Ferndale. This particular night had Nick and Vito LaPasta (aka Skin & Bones), Ricky and Brian from the Trash Brats, myself, and Gerald Shohan and Bootsey. I was wondering how Gerald and Bootsey were going to play Lovemasters' tunes on acoustic; those songs need Bootsey as a frontman to really cut loose.
Well, what did I know? Boot gets up there with Gerald and a crate full of random items. Mid-set, he pulls out a flashlight, sprays the light on the audience, and says: "Spotlight's on you now!" Laughter was everywhere. For me, that simple moment sums up Bootsey. Stick him on a stage and he owns the room with humor and style. —Eddie Baranek, musician (the Sights) and Lovemaster
The Ramrods, Nikki & the Corvettes, Coldcock, Lovemasters — a lot of phallic imagery going on there, if you ask me! Which band did I see him play with first? Probably all of them. But it was always the Lovemasters that ruled the punk-rock universe back in the day. Bob was Dave Grohl before Dave Grohl was born. ... Well, at least before Dave Grohl was 7 years old. He was also a combination drum god and frontman before Phil Collins left his drum throne. That's how strong his influence — he ruled before both Collins and Grohl!
Why do I love Bob? Let me count the ways. He was one of the first "good guys" I ran into in the scene in the early days when I'd just moved back to Detroit from England in 1976, and I always ran into Bob at numerous Bookie's shows. He was always very welcoming. Even when he was in the band, he was always one to come over and say, "Hi."
When I asked Coldcock to play live on WDET back then, it was Bob I asked, as he seemed the most approachable. I was too scared to talk to [lead singer] Andy Peabody at the time. And Vince Bannon was so busy with his production company. So I left it to Bob to convince the others, ... and thank the lord God, James Brown, he did, as it allowed me to try to re-create a Beatles experience. We put Coldcock on the roof of WDET on a very hot summer day, a mere 11 years after the Beatles did it in London on a cold winter's day. The RF from the transmitter wreaked havoc on all of the amplification ... and just getting the gear up there was next to impossible. But in true Detroit fashion, punk rock prevailed and it all went somewhat swimmingly in the end. If it wasn't for my relationship with Bob back then, that history wouldn't have been part of my history.
P.S. Did I mention his fine taste in girlfriends? —Mike Halloran, radio DJ and programmer
Bob called me up and asked if I was the 17-year-old guitar player who was into the New York Dolls and the Stooges. I'm not sure how he got my phone number, but I said, "Yeah," still too young and naive to be guarded in my responses, like most guys trying to get into a band. Shortly thereafter, we were in a band of some sort, on and off, for 30 years or so.
I think he appreciated my enthusiasm, even though I wasn't as accomplished a player as he was. Bob always seemed to be a great drummer to me. I don't know if there ever was a learning curve for him. I never saw it. You never have to tell Bob what to play as a drummer. He just knows.
He had a much greater depth of musical knowledge than me when we met — and much of my crucial, early punk, funk, psychedelic and soul education was enhanced by the great stories he'd tell. Bob had the best influences in music of anyone that I knew and I would always take to heart his opinion of stuff I had never heard. He's one of the most knowledgeable guys about all kinds of music that I know.
We were playing Patti Smith and Velvet Underground songs to bar owners before we started writing our own stuff and it was nearly impossible to get a gig. There was no Bookie's yet or any other place to play original music. The Ramrods were done before Bookie's was even Bookie's. So we were up against three sets a night and covers. That's what we didn't want to do. We had to go out and convince bar owners that we could come in and do a "concert" and people would still come to see it.
The only leather you saw at the time was someone wearing colors and bugs in their teeth. For us to show up looking like punk-hell was cause for turf-battles. Especially if girls were paying attention to us. After a while it wasn't so combative. We got by on our music. But Bob was there at the birth of punk rock in Detroit. —Dave Hanna, musician
To paraphrase Erich Segal's Love Story, "What can I say about Bob Mulrooney? That he was beautiful and loved the Beatles and James Brown and rock?"
I consider Bob Mulrooney the great MVP drummer of the Detroit punk scene, ready, willing and able to jump on the traps and bash it out. From the one-count, no matter who he was playing with, Bob had that cool beat keeper vibe, the same offbeat personality that turns drummers into hep cats and chick magnets. He was skinny enough — and man enough — to wear girl's jeans if he wanted to. (God knows a ladies' man like Bob had access to plenty of girls' jeans.) Though he could work up a fine head of rowdy, Bob never really came across as the punk rocker who wanted to shock people and piss them off — after all, we had plenty of frontmen like Mark Norton to do that — he just wanted to rock. Because he liked to rock.
Then, one day, he became Bootsey X, and the whole game changed: Goodbye Keith Moon, hello redheaded Irish Livonia James Brown.
I don't rightly recall much of what went on in the Bookie's Club 870 at the turn of the '70s — who does? — but I do have fond memories of Bob as a cool breeze who was respected and loved and, of course, still is. Bob rarely bitched about anything but occasionally, he'd say, "Maaan ..." which was more of a long, drawn out "may-yan," and you know that he thought something wasn't righteous. Because, that's what Bob "Bootsey X" Mulrooney is: one righteous brother. —David Keeps, writer, journalist and former Destroy All Monsters manager
Way back in 1977, I was temporary "manager" for the premiere Detroit punk band, the Ramrods. I was also around when they imploded. I'd been friends with guitarist Pete James for many years and had dreamed about being a singer in a band myself. Through a series of crazy events, I found myself booked for a show singing with a band that really didn't exist yet. The group ended up becoming Nikki Corvette & the Convertibles, and we were booked for a show at the Red Grape in March of '78. Anyway, the band ended up being Pete James on guitar, Skid Marx on bass ... and Bob Mulrooney on drums. We learned the songs separately, never had a rehearsal before the show, and the first time we played together ever was that show. It was a beautiful, fun, punk-pop train wreck — but we pulled it off and ended up getting booked every weekend for the next three months. Bob didn't play with us for that whole three months — but he was willing to take a chance on me and I really love him for that.
Bands that we were in often played together at various clubs around town in Detroit's punk heyday. In 2007, Bob, Skid and I were reminiscing about that first show and decided to do a reunion show in March 2008, almost 30 years to the day of that first show. We did it at the Painted Lady. Since Pete James refuses to talk to any of us, we enlisted former Ramrods bassist Dave Hanna to fill in on guitar. It was still three-fourths of the original band and we tore it up after two rehearsals (two more than for that first show). It was great fun and nostalgic and I'm beyond happy that we all had the chance to do it. The crowd was so happy to get the chance to return to that time and see most of a band that has a place in Detroit rock history. Bob being willing to take a chance on me — this came after many in the D thought me responsible for the demise of the Ramrods, as there was a bit of a "Yoko" backlash thing going on — is part of the reason I got my chance and continue touring, recording and being part of rock ‘n' roll today.
Bootsey still puts on a helluva performance. I had the chance to do a show with him when my new band played the Coldcock reunion show last summer and we talked about his medical problems ... although he had no idea how serious it was at the time. My thoughts and prayers are with him always and I'm so thankful he played that first show with me! —Nikki Corvette, musician
The thing that always stood out was Mulroony's flame job. I took me a couple of years before I realized that unnatural red wasn't hair dye or a Johnny Rotten tribute — Bob wasn't one of those Sex Pistols wannabes. He was more of a Stooges/Heartbreakers, James Brown, every-obscuro-band-on-the-Nuggets-comps kinda guy. He drummed in a number of bands, most notably the Ramrods, my favorite band back then and they probably still are. I used to pick him up in a van we called the White Noise Mansion on Wheels, because he lived over by the Denizens — a Livonia band I was friends with — and we were always headed to the same place, usually Bookie's; there were not a lot of choices! And Livonia was between me and whatever shithole we were both going to so it was no big deal picking him up. One of these shitholes was called the Velvet Hammer, which he was playing at one night. It was a biker bar and, by gosh, I forget the name of the gang, but they certainly did not care for the contemporary stylings of the Ramrods. So one of the last visions I had while pussyfooting out the door is Mulroney pounding this biker's fist with his face! He just tenderized that biker's hand. That guy wasn't going to be able to beat off for a couple days without thinking about that shock of red hair. —Jerry Vile (aka Jerry Peterson)
I tended bar and booked the bands at the rock 'n' roll club my mother, Lili, had in the '70s. In 1979, Bob was the first musician to play the Lili's 21 stage as Surfin' Bootsey & the Tse Tse Flies. Lucky me! I was briefly a Tse Tse Fly. Fast forward to 2002: Bootsey X — with his excellent Lovemasters — was the last cat to ever play at the club. I've always loved Bootsey, the artist, and Bob, the man. They both rock and are the funniest fuckers I've ever known. I'm glad I gave him one of my kidneys. I'm proud to say he's a great friend.
Bob sat behind the drums for the Mutants for a short while before he started the Lovemasters, and he's a terrific timekeeper in the early '60s style. Meat and potatoes, not a speck of cereal. He is focused on the beat and moving the song along. As a frontman, Bootsey — like many Detroit singers of his time — graduated from the University of Iggy. He also took night classes studying with George Clinton. Bob is definitely the funkiest rockingest dude ever from the Farmington Hills-Livonia area. I had the pleasure of working with the man in Dark Carnival with Ron Asheton and Niagara, and also in the BAD [Bootsey, Art & Dave] Experience with Polish Muslim Dave Uchalik and Let's Talk About Girls behind us. Singing an extended chorus of "Love Train" onstage with Bootsey is sheer musical joy. Trust me on this.
Mulrooney is tough. I believe he'll get out of this mess just fine and make music for years to come. Bootsey will still be singing "Genius from the Waist Down" when he's 80 years old — and I'm looking forward to seeing it. —Art Lyzak, Mutants lead vocalist and Lili's manager
I was one of the two bouncers at Bookie's during its initial years and, as a pretty crappy bass player, I think I share the dubious distinction of helping to push Bob to sing as a frontman initially. Our original project was a sort of anti-band called the Radiators, which served as an idiotic, noisy, theatrical counterpoint to Coldcock, and I formed another four bands with various members and Boot as frontman (with such ignominious names as Motor Labia) before Bob, Gerald and I founded Bootsey & the Banshies, which morphed into Bootsey & the Lovemasters.
When I started really hanging with Boot, he was living in Palmer Park with a crazy named Pogo Ray, and their apartment was a cross between the greatest House of Cool Record Collections on Earth and the Worst Mold Incubating Experiment from Hell. Me and Eric Erickson would pick him up each night from where he worked — the afternoon shift at a peep show on Woodward and Six Mile. His job was to collect quarters and mop out the booths just before he was done for the night.
The stench from semen and Clorox had to be mind-altering if not exhausting, but Bob was always game for a full night of fun. We'd ride around in my mom's Delta 88 or Rick's Roadrunner drinking Boone's Farm (for Bob) and Don Q 151 (for me and Eric) singing and joking, or listening to Raw Power, some James Brown and a poorly recorded copy of Nuggets on Bob's tape player over and over again. It was in the Olds that some of my favorite songs, "Mr. Bubble" and "Pusherman of Love" were birthed. ...
I played in a lot of bands with Bob during those days, but I drifted on, and I've always wondered how things would play out for him. Actually, I was worried. What happens to a person who, to the sacrifice of all else relating to self, is pure, focused and simplistically driven towards their one true passion — in his case original, fun, serious loud music?
I know the answer now: Boot has inspired probably hundreds of people in a very positive way through sharing music. Boot has touched countless people. Boot has made many, many people laugh, and always models the right way to play rock 'n' roll music. Whenever he chooses to move on, he leaves a legacy few of us can match.
Bob Mulrooney is a really fun guy to play in a band with. When I was making noise with him, he would continually reiterate to us that he was "a genius from the waist down." I believe Bob's true genius lies in his heart. —Mark Elliott, musician
One day, back in the early '80s, Bootsey and I decided that the Lovemasters needed some new material. And, that he and I needed to re-ignite our songwriting partnership. So, he drove the Bootsey-mobile (a beige former driver's training car) over to my apartment in Ferndale.
Armed with new enthusiasm, some lyrics, a tape recorder, a fifth of rum and a two-liter jug of Coca-Cola, we set to writing the next Bootsey hit.
By the time the booze was gone, we had written and recorded four new songs. Satisfied and more than a little drunk, I retired to the Nick Pivot Suite and Bootsey crashed on the living room floor.
The next morning, we listened to the tape: All four songs were exactly the same — and pretty shitty at that.
Sometime during the next week, Bootsey went over to Jeff Grand's place and continued to work on the song. Jeff put it together way better than Captain Morgan and me, with his unmistakable funky licks. That song became "Genius from the Waist Down."
That's the way I remember it — me and the Captain. —Nick Pivot, musician (Skin & Bones)
I've had some great experiences onstage and in the studio with Bob Mulrooney, particularly while he was playing drums for Kim Fowley and Nathaniel Mayer. Bob and I recorded an album with Kim, and we performed together with Nathaniel in France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
The Lovemasters' recent gigs, before Bob's health issues put his musical activities on hold, were superb. They've got an excellent current lineup. I hope Bob gets well soon and gets back onstage and into the studio. He's absolutely one of the best musicians in town. —Matthew Smith, musician and producer
Although I know Bootsey — who doesn't?! — we've never been close, so I don't have any stories ... other than admiring his stage wear from a distance. —Amy Gore, Gorevette and Gore Gore Girls
I can tell many charming stories about him, as we do go back to 1977 in the Ramrods, but just as a human being, you should be charitable to others in general. File this somewhere between "I have more bad karma than I think, duh" and "pay it forward." Besides, Bootsey's soooo damn handsome. ... —Mark Norton (aka Ivan Suvanjieff, Ramrods vocalist)
I spotted him first at the Kramer Theater on the west side playing with the Ramrods on an early punk rock bill. I next saw the drummer with the fast hands and the maroon hair, again with the Ramrods, at the Velvet Hammer on the east side playing with the Pigs and the Traitors. This was 1977, the year of punk rock's underground explosion.
We did band outings at the time — our band being the Denizens — and we were in a self-promotional phase, passing out specially embossed green match packs that read things like "The Denizens: At least they haven't gone Hollywood." Upon seeing the match packs and comparing set lists at the Velvet Hammer, Mulrooney was interested.
We eventually recorded at a small handful of local studios, but Bob recorded us first on his boom box. He always had it with him, carrying it in a small suitcase-type bag, almost like a doctor's bag. It would soon be known to us as the "Bob-bag," and that bag held a variety of necessities — cassette tapes and player, food items (the most basic being white bread), drum pad and sticks, and notebooks, aspirin and hair gel.
Bob took a liking to "Twisted Brain," one of the first tunes we wrote.
He recorded it right there on his box, and he played it back over and over again, just raving and ranting about it. Naturally we felt great, being that Mulrooney was an "old" guy of about 23, and an info-packed rock n' soul genius. By 23, though, Bob had done it all, or at least most all of it, as far as us 18-year-old wannabes could envision. He had seen the MC5 at the Grande when the ballroom was on its last legs. He had moved to New York with the Ramrods, just about the time that Television, the Ramones and Blondie were first getting some ink in CREEM Magazine, which was our version of The Watchtower. He saw the break-up and remaking of Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers. What else had he done? He'd seen David Johansen's girlfriend, Sable Starr, perform striptease. He'd met Seymour Stein and Danny Fields, and he retold countless incidents of punk celebrities gone bad over combinations of drugs, alcohol, women or men. Then there were the Max's Kansas City, CBGB's, and Brooklyn punk hall-party gigs to chew the cud over.
Soon Bob was helping to form Nikki & the Corvettes. And then, seemingly much to his own chagrin, he was also playing drums with the Sillies — which always seemed to me to have more to do with his quest for [singer] Katy Hait than his love of the band's repertoire. During this same time, Bob had totally turned my head around about James Brown, selling me on soul power, black power and dozens of outrageous and madcap artistes of the proto-punk world. He knew more about the Stooges and the more esoteric but similarly legendary types like Kim Fowley than any Livonia boy should hold claim to.
And as a drummer, his skills were unbelievable, because even though we both played "Search and Destroy," he played "Search and Destroy" the right way — the exciting way. Bob also enlightened me with a tantalizing percussionary tidbit: "Iggy played drums on the song Funhouse," he said. Although I have not come across any evidence since then that would prove Bob's claim, I tend to believe him.
For the 30-plus years that I've known Bob, he has continued his practice of showing Detroit's raging youth that there's far more to music than what is shown on TV or even culled from the bargain bins at collectible record stores. He applauds their songwriting skills and encourages bigger leaps into the unknown. Every time some younger guy or gal musician graces Bob with a handshake or a hug and says: "Hey, Bootsey!" I know Bob did or said something to deserve that.
Before Bootsey formed the Lovemasters, he briefly did the Wheels of Cheese. I was a member of the band — Bob's sidekick, or his Bobby Byrd, so to speak. The musical fare was minimal. The four or five song set consisted of only three or four songs, including the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin" and "C'mon Let's Swim" by Bobby Freeman. We also rehearsed Blue Cheer's version of "Summertime Blues," which Bob — if only for the moment and the mood of the set — argued was the superior version. It was my job to sing background vocals and to watch from the side as Bob twisted, dove to the floor and camel-walked all over the Bookie's stage. Looking like an alien in shades, this pre-Bootsey character instinctively knew what it took to win over a crowd. With deep knee-bends and a lot of lurching toward the audience on the packed dance floor, Mulrooney soon had them in the palm of his hand. —Mike Murphy, writer and musician
The first time we met was when I was in the Pigs and he was in the Ramrods. It was early in the Detroit punk scene. I was blown away even back then by his drumming! Bootsey X has the sweetest punk-funk-soul groove, a deep-ass pocket. Greasy, musical and ballsy.
He is also one of the most prolific songwriters I have ever worked with. Bootsey X should have been born in the Deep South. He can put a song together in a clever and tight arrangement. His ideas are loaded with musical history. That dude's a self-taught scholar of all kinds of groovy music. He's got a bag of bad-ass funk and soul grooves and ideas that would make James Brown proud. I would like to see Bootsey and Gil Scott-Heron co-write together someday. Who knows what could happen? I'd predict a new movement.
Bootsey was always on top of current events and fads happening. His lyrics alone are a history lesson in pop culture. Underappreciated, overlooked by many record companies, and ahead of his time. Most importantly, though, Bootsey is my friend. —Steve King, musician, Eminem producer and latter-day Ramrod.
I was aware of Bob prior to moving to Detroit at the start of 2008, because he was a member of Dark Carnival, the band that also featured Ron Asheton and Niagara. I remember when I visited Detroit in 2007 to research my Stooges book, Niagara and her husband Colonel Galaxy gave me a poster for a benefit that had been held for DC guitarist Greasy Carlisi, and featured Bootsey X & the Lovemasters among the list of bands that performed. "That," I thought, "is a real band name."
It wasn't until moving here, however, that I really started to get a grasp of how loved and admired Bob is in this city. I also noted, upon meeting him, that his facial similarity to HRH Iggy Pop is startling.
Bob's work with the Ramrods and the aforementioned Lovemasters and Dark Carnival is justifiably celebrated, at least locally. Bob's everything that is great about Detroit, everything that I love about the city. As a musician, he's passionate, loose and gritty and — while I'm not going to pretend to know him as well as many — I still consider him one of the sweetest, most genuine guys I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Just over a year ago, I remember interviewing him on the subject of Ron Asheton's passing. I'd spoken to a lot of people that day, but I'll always remember Bob, reminiscing about his old friend, offering a response of genuine, human grief. There was nothing pious about it; Bob remembered the person first and the musician second.
Similarly, getting to know Bob has been a real pleasure. He's a man that I admire greatly, as a human first, and a singer and drummer second. It was fantastic to see him out and about so soon after major surgery at the Blowout Pre-Party. He's a tough motherfucker — the Pusherman of Love — and I'm convinced that I'll be seeing him rocking out a hell of a lot more in the near future. These two benefits will certainly help. —Brett Callwood, journalist
I don't know Bootsey very well — but I sure remember the first time I met him. Me and Ty Stone went to Jim Diamond's studio. He was doing a session with Stirling at the time. We wanted see if Jim would record what ended up being Blood River. Bootsey was there and just immediately said, "Hey, man, I'll play drums for you if you need a drummer." I've heard he really liked my music, I saw him at the Blowout and he was really cool and uplifting. The times I have been around him, it's easy to see he is a great guy and has never acted like anything but a cool-ass cat. If you hear of anybody doing any more benefits, we would love to play. —Don Duprie (aka Doop of Doop & the Inside Outlaws
Me: "Boots, it's Britt from Let's Talk About Girls. Hey, do you still have your drums? I know you haven't played 'em in a while, but our band house just burned down and my kit is unplayable this weekend. We're playing Alvin's and ..." I never got to finish my request.
Bob: "What time do you need them by? Do you need my throne? Are your cymbals OK? Because mine aren't too great. I'll have them there for you and set them up any way you want."
Me: "Yeah, I'll need the throne. I think the cymbals will wash up OK. Thanks, Bob, that's a tremendous relief, and a lot of help with you getting them there. Things are a little crazy in Sterling Heights right now. Oh, and sound check is at 8:30"
Bob: "I know, don't think anything of it. We're all in this together."
That's a friend indeed when one's a friend in need. My mom has a plaque with an anonymous quote: "Never a friend is he who lives without the thought of giving. Ever a friend is he who gives; he makes this life worth living!"
Well, Bob is the latter. I wish him well, and where do I make the donation? And when do we play a Bootsey X Lovemasters love-in?
Also, when do we get to be as cool as him with those long-legged girls with the short skirts on? Live, from Janie's Gym, ... —Britt Slocum, drummer (Let's Talk About Girls and BAD Experience)
I'm sure folks have way better stories, but when I think about Bob — at least about the performing aspect — I remember that Bob and the Lovemasters always showed up and always delivered. No ego, no bullshit — just class, sass and kick ass. Bootsey & the Lovemasters always delivered!
I worked with Bobby twice. The first was when I was managing the all-girl group, StunGun, in the late '90s, and they were on a bill with the Lovemaster at some wannabe club in Wyandotte during a snow storm, minus 10 degrees, Wednesday night. Even with tons of press and radio support, the place was still basically empty by showtime. The Lovemasters still showed up and cooked the house with an extra long set in front of about 20 people. You'd have thought they were in front of 1,500. Hell, I think one or two StunGun girls didn't even make that show.
The second was the Ron Asheton Tribute at Music Hall last year, during the worst blizzard in 10 years. But Bootsey somehow got there. I don't know how, since he didn't have a car. But as usual, he delivered.
As Glenn Barr used to always say, "Bootsey never fails to satisfy."
Oh, my favorite memories is that in the early days of CPOP Gallery, Bobby was smitten with my gallery manager and former niece, Andrea, and would come in and talk with her at every opportunity. ... Almost every mover and shaker at that time would try and ask her out. But she always had a soft spot for Bob ... over all the others. He still asks about her almost every time I see him, even after 10 years. It was actually kind of cute. —Rick Manore, the Music Hall (and former CPop Gallery honcho)
Bob has always been a great and friendly person — so sweet and kind ... but cool, very cool. Bob's always been a part of Detroit, a very big part, due to his devotion to the Detroit music scene. A funny, hazy, great memory is at Bookie's, when I was still a teenager, and Bob fell off the stage on New Year's Eve. For some reason, fire trucks were there — it was that crazy. But there was Bob but getting back up again ... just as he'll be rising up again from this latest obstacle. He will always be a true original. —Carolyn Striho, musician and composer
JR and I decided to put a benefit together to show appreciation for a mutual friend who's given so much of himself in so many fine Detroit bands for going on 33-and-a-third years now. I always thought of Bootsey as a great original talent and character, comparable to those other Detroit musical alter egos, including Eminem, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. Watching him onstage, it's easy to imagine Bootsey as the bastard love child of funky fury Betty Davis and Iggy, if the kid had been adopted and raised by the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown himself
I recall bringing in the Rudy Ray Moore Dolemite soundtrack LP, still sealed, to sell at one of Bob's stores. He raved on about the unappreciated greatness of the spoken word precursor to rap. With Bob, you always got a little history lesson for free with your trade-in credit. Hats off to the bastard! —Tim Caldwell, benefit co-organizer
I was in high school and had recently deemed myself "punk rock" with a safety-pin pierced ear and I started hanging out at Bookie's. I remember seeing Bob drumming with Coldcock and thinking they were the coolest band I had ever seen. I had their 7-inch single and couldn't understand why they weren't hugely famous. Even then, Bob had a true rock star swagger and owned the place.
It was quite a coup for my band at the time, Hysteric Narcotics, to open for Bootsey at Paycheck's in the early '80s. It was probably the height of their popularity. We were all in those old disgusting "dressing rooms" in the basement before the gig and Bootsey was going over parts with the girl singers. It may have been chemically induced, but I remember thinking how serious about it all he seemed. The whole show was a bit of a James Brown send-up — but Bob was so focused, I'm not sure if he was seeing it that way. Either way, he was in complete command and the show was great —Dave Feeny, musician
I was closely acquainted with Bob around 1979 and 1980. Bob was originally the drummer for many bands prior. Bob was working at the Uptown Bookstore at this point in time, which was actually an X-rated peep show emporium. His diet back then consisted mostly — 97 percent is a close guess — of cheap red wine and bagged, store-bought popcorn. Must have been the secret to his svelte body.
Bootsey was a trainwreck back then but also had glorious flair. He was living out the great everyman rock 'n' roll dream." —Eric Erickson, musican
You already know that Bob is one of the very few natural prime Detroit punk frontmen — along with Jerry from the Boners, Art from the Mutants and Norton from the Ramrods — so instead, I'll just share my all-time favorite Bootsey memory, circa early 1980s. We were headed from Ferndale to the vintage punk dance club, Todd's. Cruising through a four-way stop, a drunken dame ran the sign and hit us broadside at about 60 mph. The car slid sideways up onto an old folk's home's grassy knoll. The door window exploded and my door caved in. Right away, I knew I had broken several ribs. I leaned over and asked Bob if he was alright. "I think I might be bleeding," Bob said, pointing to the part of his face where beer was dripping down. (Did I mention we'd been drinking 40s, as kids in Michigan were apt to do back in those days?) I started laughing and felt a white hot flash of pain in the side. "Bob, stop! You're killing me." The ambulance came. Bob never sued me. Or the drunken dame. But he did go onto front a shitload of other great Detroit bands. —Paul Zimmerman, writer and journalist
In my mind, Bob "Bootsey X" Mulrooney, my former bandmate, roommate and longtime friend, has been the heart and soul of the Detroit indie music scene for over 30 years. From the early pre-Bookie's era in the mid-to-late '70s, when he was drumming in half the bands playing on that small punk circuit, through the '80s and '90s, when Bootsey X/Bobby Beyond moved to the front of the stage, Bob has always been there, has always been dedicated to his vision, and has been an entertainer and indie music scholar with no equal. Throughout it all, good times and bad, Bob has also managed to maintain his unique sense of humor. "You don't know what it's like," he often exclaims as he tells his latest tale of woe, usually followed by a chuckle. Yeah, Bob has certainly had more than his share of bad luck, with his recent health issues only the latest.
Cars have long been one of Bob's nemeses, either breaking down, falling apart or just plain dying at inopportune times. Last summer, when I was in town for a show at the Magic Bag, there occurred an event that could only happen to Bob. He was living on the east side and we were rehearsing at Gerald Shohan's shop in Pontiac. Not wanting to drive on the expressway, uncomfortable driving at night, worried about the health of his current vehicle, and nervous about possibly not having all of his papers in order if stopped by the police for any reason, we decided to have Bob drive to Nine Mile and I-75, park his car in the shopping center lot, and we'd pick him up and drop him off later.
Sounds like a simple plan, eh? Of course, this was Bootsey, and this happened to be the evening that a fuel tanker crashed and burned on the highway, engulfing the overpass in flames, shutting down I-75 and closing down the entire area for hours, with Bob's car in the parking lot immediately above the inferno. All turned out OK, the police allowing him access to his car and escorting him out of the closed-down sector, but it was just the kind of thing that seems to happen only in Bootsey's extraordinary life. "You don't know what it's like, man". —Andrew Peabody, former Coldcock singer and fellow hairstylist; current certified Triathlon and cycling coach and certified snowboard instructor
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Judging by the frequency of plays when Bootsey and I were living together, his favorites were/are the Rolling Stones, James Brown and the Stooges (Funhouse in particular). There was always great music playing in the house when I lived with him, and he's always been funny — one of the funniest dudes I've ever met. Still cracks me up to this day whenever I'm with him. I don't have any specific great stories about him. Some memories are unprintable. Better kept off the record! —Danny Kroha, musician