Ken Boothe Biography

22 March 1946, Denham Town, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Boothe began his recording career with Stranger Cole in the duo Stranger And Ken, releasing titles including ‘World’s Fair’, ‘Hush’, ‘Artibella’ and ‘All Your Friends’ from 1963-65. When the rocksteady rhythm began to evolve during 1966, Boothe recorded ‘Feel Good’. He released a series of titles for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label that revealed him to be an impassioned, fiery vocalist, with an occasionally mannered style ultimately derived from US soul. During this period he was often referred to as the Wilson Pickett of Jamaican music. He continued recording with Dodd until 1970, releasing some of his best and biggest local hits. He made records for other producers at the same time, including Sonia Pottinger’s Gayfeet label, for which he recorded the local hit ‘Say You’ in 1968. By the following year Boothe had switched again, this time to Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s label, where he stayed until 1971, notching up two more local hits with ‘Freedom Street’ and ‘Why Baby Why’, as well as several other singles and an album.

Boothe freelanced during the early 70s for various producers, including Keith Hudson, Herman Chin-Loy, Randy’s and Phil Pratt. During the same period he began an association with B.B. Seaton, which resulted in an album in 1971. At this point in time Boothe was hugely popular with Jamaican audiences, particularly teenage girls, who loved his emotive voice and good looks. When he started working with the pianist, vocalist and producer Lloyd Charmers in 1971 it was not long before the hits started to flow again, first in Jamaica and then in the UK charts. ‘Everything I Own’, a David Gates composition, topped the UK chart in November 1974. The follow-up, ‘Crying Over You’, also charted, reaching the number 11 position in February 1975. Pop singer Boy George covered Charmers and Boothe’s version of ‘Everything I Own’, reaching the UK chart with the song in 1987.

Boothe sadly failed to capitalize on this success, but has continued to record for a variety of Jamaican producers throughout the subsequent decades. He has also produced his own material with occasional commercial success. He regularly appears on Jamaican oldies shows, usually singing his classic 60s and 70s material, and remains one of the great Jamaican soul voices.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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