His recording career began with the legendary, West Indian record
producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. Rather strangely, Boothe started by
recording a version of Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet On A String” in 1967.
Later the same year, Boothe and Alton Ellis had a successful UK tour
with the group, The Soul Vendors.
After leaving Coxsone, Boothe recorded for Keith Hudson and Leslie Kong. He then formed the group ‘Conscious Minds’ with B.B. Seaton. By the early 1970s Ken Boothe started providing hits for Sonia Pottinger. Ken is known as “Mr. Rocksteady” for his prominence during that musical period.
Then suddenly, under new direction from record producer Lloyd Chalmers, “Everything I Own” was Number One in the UK in 1974. The song, written by David Gates, was given a sympathetic light reggae feel, and it found instant favour both in the West Indies, but more surprisingly in the UK. David Gates’ own group, Bread, had had a minor UK hit with the song in the Spring of 1972, but it had only reached Number 32.
The oddest thing about Boothe’s cover version, is that he sings ‘Anything I Own’, rather than ‘Everything I Own’ throughout, thus making this record one of the few in which the title is never sung. There have been other examples of this at Number One in the UK Singles Chart, like “Bohemian Rhapsody”; “Unchained Melody”; “Annie’s Song”; “The Chicken Song”; and “Space Oddity”; but Ken Boothe’s record is the only one on which the title should have been sung, but was not by mistake.
Ken Boothe seemed, at the time, to have the makings of an international, long-lasting, hit maker, certainly when compared to most of the other latter-day reggae acts. His smoother style gave him a wider appeal, rather like UB40, and Aswad. Boothe’s choice of songs also showed the breadth of his musical taste. But for all that, he only managed one more hit in the UK Chart, “Crying Over You”, which made Number 11.
Whilst the cross-cultural appeal for Boothe waned, the “Everything I Own” song was far from being knocked out. In 1987, Boy George released his version of the tune, and duly got to Number One himself. His rendition owed far more in styling to Mr Boothe, than the composer Mr Gates. Thus the song has the very rare distinction of twice being a UK chart topper, by two different artistes.
In more recent times, Boothe has also recorded for Bunny Lee, Phil Pratt, King Jammy, Pete Weston, Jack Ruby, Hugh “Red Man” James, Castro Brown and Tappa Zukie. Plus in 1995, he teamed up with Shaggy, for a new styled version of his old self penned track, “The Train Is Coming”, which appeared on the soundtrack of the film, Money Train.
A double-disc overview of Boothe’s Trojan years, Crying Over You, was released by the label in 2001.