Booth’s first single, “Wishful Thinkin'” and album, Country ’67 was released under the stage name “Johnny Booth” by Universal City Records in 1967. It featured a cover of Engelbert Humperdinck’s “There Goes My Everything”, a version of which had been released months earlier by Ray Price, one of Booth’s longtime influences. The album, produced by Cliffie Stone, retains the vestigial sound of Rockabilly that Country music was moving away from at that time, ironically toward the softer sound then being pushed by artists such as Price.
When his first album did not yield a chart position, Booth formed a band called Modern Country in 1968 and performed for a time in Las Vegas, Nevada before moving to Los Angeles, California. The band, which renamed itself the Tony Booth Band, became the house band at L.A.’s Palomino Club. He cut a single with K-Ark Records, “Big Lonely World”, but it also had no chart success.
That changed in 1970 when his first single for MGM Records, Merle Haggard’s song about interracial love, “Irma Jackson” reached the charts. His band also won an Academy of Country Music award, which they would take home for three consecutive years. Tony also received the Most Promising Male Vocalist of The Year from the Academy of Country Music in 1972.
An album soon followed, On The Right Track, produced by Dusty Rhodes, and in 1971 Booth won the ACM award for Most Promising Male Vocalist. He signed with Capitol Records and became one of several artists to record under Buck Owens. His first single, “Cinderella”, went midway up the charts.
Booth released two albums a year for Capital between 1972 and 1974. The first was The Key’s in the Mailbox which included three hit singles. The title track reached No. 1 on Cash Box, making it his best-ranked and best-known song. The last single from the album made it to No. 13, and “Lonesome 7-7203” from his next album peaked right behind at No. 6.
Over the next three albums, Booth produced five more singles which all charted. “When a Man Loves a Woman (The Way That I Love You)” made it to No. 19, and the next four all made the Top 50 including a cover of Doris Day’s hit “Secret Love.” He was also nominated for the ACM Male Vocalist of the Year award in 1973.
He went on to tour in Gene Watson’s band and played bass and sang backup on many of his mid-1980s albums, and performed the song “Still on the Bottle” for the movie Daddy’s Dyin’… Who’s Got the Will? (1990).