Reggae artist Eric Donaldson was born in Kent Village, Jamaica, on June 11, 1947, and launched his music career in 1964 when he recorded some tracks for Studio One in Kingston, which have remained unreleased. Shortly thereafter, Donaldson formed the vocal outfit the West Indians along with Leslie Burke and Hector Brooks. The group hooked up with producer J.J. Johnson, who helped guide the group to a hit in 1968, “Right on Time,” before recording for Lee Perry a year later; they changed their name to the Killowatts shortly thereafter. But the name change failed to ignite the group’s career and they eventually split up after such obscure releases as Slot Machine and Real Cool Operator. Donaldson decided to continue to pursue music on his own, which led to him submitting an original composition, “Cherry Oh Baby,” to the Festival Song Competition in 1971. The song took the top spot at the competition, eventually being issued as single and becoming a local hit. The song would reach a wider audience when it was covered by rock artists, including the Rolling Stones (on their 1976 Black and Blue release) and UB40 (1983’s Labour of Love). Donaldson continued to issue albums — including such releases as Miserable Woman (1972), What a Festival (1973), and Freedom Street (1977) — among others, and has taken the top spot at subsequent Festival Song Competition’s as well in 1977, 1978, 1984, and 1993. Donaldson runs the Cherry Oh Baby Go-Go Bar in his hometown of Kent Village.
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