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Cecelia Campbell-Livingston—-

In August, it will be 50 years since Jamaica gained Independence from Britain. Today, the Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment section reflects on the influence Jamaican pop culture has had on that country in REGGAE BRITANNIA, a weekly feature leading up to the Golden Jubilee.

KEN Boothe was recognised as one of reggae’s premier balladeers in 1974, when he topped the British national chart with Everything I Own, his cover of American group Bread’s Anything I Own.

BOOTHE… struck gold at a time when Rastafari and rootsreggae were making waves in Britain


Produced by Lloyd Charmers, the song struck gold at a time when Rastafari and roots-reggae were making waves in Britain.

Boothe, now 64, recalls the reception he got from Britons.

“The first exposure I got was going on a programme called Top Of The Pops,” he said, adding that it gave him the opportunity to rub shoulders with some big stars.

Born in Denham Town, Boothe had recorded hit songs for various producers including Clement Dodd (Moving Away) and Winston ‘Niney’ Holness (Silver Words), but Everything I Own was his first hit outside Jamaica.

He visited England in 1967 with Alton Ellis, but that was nothing compared to the reception he got seven years later.

“The Skinheads (rowdy working-class white youth) and Jamaicans in Britain took on to it, I have to give thanks for that exposure,” Boothe told the Jamaica Observer.

The Bread original peaked at number 32 in Britain two years earlier. In a 2003 interview with the Observer, Boothe said he first heard the song performed by crooner Andy Williams, while on a visit to Canada.

Encouraged by a friend to cover Everything I Own, Boothe cut his version with Charmers at Federal Records in Kingston.

It topped local charts and encouraged the bosses at Federal to release the song in Britain through Trojan Records.

After three appearances on Top Of The Pops, Everything I Own soared to number one, giving Trojan its first hit since Dave Barker and Ansell Collins’ Double Barrell three years earlier.

Boothe recorded the Everything I Own album to capitalise on the song’s success. It yielded a minor hit in Crying Over You, written and produced by Charmers.

Everything I Own was covered, reggae-style, in 1987 by Boy George of Culture Club fame.

It too made the British charts.

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