A key transitional moment in the history of popular music largely went unnoticed when Eric Donaldson took the baton from early rock & roll pioneer, Carl Perkins – writer of “Blue Suede Shoes” – upon the release of his great single from 1972 on the Jaguar label, “Blue Boot”:
Eric Donaldson, who has won Jamaica’s famous Festival song competition seven times, (most recently 1997) will be forever linked with his first big win in 1971, “Cherry Oh Baby” – a smash single from his debut album and famously covered later by The Rolling Stones and UB40. With “Blue Boot,” Donaldson was confident of a second straight victory at Festival.
As Eric’s bio on the Trojan Records website points out —
In 1972 Eric and Tommy [Cowan] linked up with Warwick Lynn, who produced “Blue Boot”, in the hope of repeating the singer’s success at the song festival. In an interview in 1974 with Black Music’s, Carl Gayle, Eric stated, “Well I really had a song called ‘Blue Boot’ for the festival. But it was like I just woke up one morning and found myself singing ‘Cherry Oh Baby’.”
Sadly, although the song had all the ingredients for a second victory, Toots & the Maytals entry, “Pomps And Pride”, also produced by Warwick Lynn, won the contest. Eric failed to take the prize that year, but from now on, he would be known as “Mr. Festival”.
Wake the Town and Tell the People
Trojan would also write in the liner notes to its anthology of Festival songs, Baba Boom! –
“Eric Donaldson’s 1972 entry, ‘Blue Boot’, was almost as good [as ‘Pomps and Pride’] and along with its U Roy version, ‘Festival Wise’, brought the DJ [i.e., “toasting”] phenomenon to the Festival for the first time.”