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Ken Boothe

Ken Boothe

BiographyKen Boothe was born in Denham Town, Kingston. He attended Denham Primary Elementary School and during this period developed an interest in music after receiving encouragement from his eldest sister, Hyacinth Clover, who was an established vocalist. Boothe cites singer Owen Gray as a major influence, particularly after hearing Gray perform the Leiber and Stoller rhythm and blues version of the 1920s blues standard, "Kansas City Blues", written by E L Bowman and notably performed by Jim Jackson in 1927. Stranger Cole, who was an established artist and neighbor to Boothe, had already worked with Boothe on the Sir Percy sound system as well as recording two songs for independent producer Sir Mike though Boothe's major breakthrough came in 1963 after Cole arranged an audition at Duke Reid's studio. The audition with Cole and Boothe performing the song "Unos Dos Tres" was a success and Boothe and Cole formed the duo 'Stranger & Ken' with the first track released by them being "Hush Baby" on the B-side of Cole's Island Records single "Last Love". This was followed by the singles "Thick in Love" both released in 1963 on R&B Records. They released several more popular singles between 1963 and 1965, including "World's Fair", "Hush", and "Artibella". Boothe also recorded as a duo with Roy Shirley (as Roy & Ken), which resulted in the release of the single "Paradise" in 1966.Boothe's first solo tracks were recorded in 1966 after Clement "Coxsone" Dodd had signed him to the Studio One Label. He also recorded material for Phil Pratt and Sonia Pottinger the same year. He had almost immediate success with songs including "The Train Is Coming" (on which he was backed by the Wailers) and "Lonely Teardrops" and by the following year, Boothe and Alton Ellis had a successful UK tour with the Studio One session group, the Soul Vendors. Boothe was promoted as "Mr. Rock Steady" by Dodd during this period. Boothe continued to record for Dodd until 1970, when he switched to Beverley's Records, where his success continued with hits such as "Freedom Street" and "Why Baby Why".After Kong died, Boothe recorded for many of Jamaica's top producers during the early 1970s, including Keith Hudson, Herman Chin Loy, Vincent "Randy" Chin, and Phil Pratt. He then formed the group Conscious Minds with B. B. Seaton.Then under a new direction from record producer Lloyd Charmers, Boothe released "Everything I Own" on Trojan Records, which reached Number One in the UK Singles charts in 1974. The song, written by David Gates, was given a sympathetic light reggae feel and it received airplay and an appreciative audience in the West Indies and was regularly played on the radio stations of the UK due to its "crossover" appeal. David Gates' own group, Bread, had had a minor UK hit with the song in the spring of 1972, but it had only reached No. 32.Boothe had one more hit in the UK Chart during the 1970s, "Crying Over You", which made No. 11, with Trojan Records' collapse and a split with Charmers losing much of the momentum built up by his two hits. Boothe recorded a reggae version of the standard "When I Fall In Love" which was released in 1974 on the Studio One label.In 1978, along with Dillinger, Leroy Smart, and Delroy Wilson, Boothe was referenced by lyricist Joe Strummer in the Clash's song, "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais". Boothe reunited with Charmers in the late 1970s when a revived Trojan Records released the albums Blood Brothers (first issued on LTD in 1976) and Who Gets Your Love, but the reunion proved to be short-lived. He continued to record during the 1980s and had a few hits during 1986 and 1987.In 1987, Boy George released a version of "Everything I Own" which charted or reached No. 1 in many countries. His rendition owed far more in styling to Boothe's version than the original by Bread. This sparked renewed interest in Boothe's version, which was reissued the same year, reaching No. 88 in the UK.In more recent times, Boothe has recorded for Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, King Jammy, Pete Weston, Jack Ruby, Hugh "Red Man" James, Castro Brown and Tappa Zukie. In 1995 a version of "The Train Is Coming", re-worked with Shaggy, was used in the soundtrack for the film Money Train.A two-disc set of Boothe's recordings for Trojan, Crying Over You, was released in 2001.Boothe was awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music by the Jamaican government in 2003.

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Ken Boothe - Everything I Own

Everything I Own

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