VINTAGE REGGAE SHOW AND DANCE

KEN BOOTHE

Ken Boothe (born 22 March 1948) is a Jamaican vocalist known for his distinctive vibrato and timbre. Boothe achieved an international reputation as one of Jamaica’s finest vocalists through a series of crossover hits that appealed to both reggae fans and mainstream audiences.
Ken Boothe was born in Denham Town, Kingston where he attended Denham Town Primary & Elementary School. During this period developed an interest in music after receiving encouragement from his eldest sister, who herself, was an established vocalist. Boothe cites singer Owen Gray as a major influence after hearing Gray perform the Leiber and Stoller rhythm and blues version of the 1920s blues standard, “Kansas City Blues”, in 1927.Boothe’s first solo tracks were recorded in 1966 after Clement “Coxsone” Dodd had signed him to his Studio One Label. He had immediate success with songs including “The Train Is Coming” the first ska version, of later reggae song You’re No Good with Soulettes and “Lonely Teardrops”. The rocksteady classic “Moving Away” was released in 1967 or 1968 on the Coxsone label. “Moving Away” is a song still popular today, and covered or sampled by many artists, among them Dennis Brown, Jackie Mittoo (“Macka Fat”), Jack Radics I-Roy, U-Roy, Janet Key, Jaime Hinckson, Romain des Bois, Bruno Mars, Al Campbell (“Dress Black” Garnett Silk (“It’s Groving”), Half Pint (“Substitute Lover”), Wayne Wonder (“Time To Say Good Bye”), Leroy Smart (“Talk About Friends”), Sanches (“Don’t Worry”), Admiral Tibet (“Nuthin Nah Run”) among many others. Many of Boothe’s songs have been reused in one way or another. On the B-side of the single “Moving Away” was the instrumental “Streets Of Gold” by the Skatalites. Boothe continued to record for Dodd until 1970, when he switched to producer Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s Records and reggae, 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.

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 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.