Thursday, May 2 nd , 2024
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1991 - Pat Boone


Singer, actor, TV host, producer, songwriter, author, motivational speaker, TV pitchman, radio personality, record company head, TV station owner, sports team owner, family man, humanitarian, a man unafraid to air his views.

A lot of Pat Boones from which to pick and choose.

A lot of Pat Boones to go around.

Right now, Boone – the #10 all time top recording artist, according to music industry bible, Billboard – is the Lion in Winter, five decades of recording history behind him and a busy future ahead. A very active lion…

Boone runs his own record company, The Gold Label, designed for legendary artists of a certain age and certifiable talent (all with million-selling gold records to their credit) “It’s a senior tour for singers,” he jokes. “But there is a qualification: they have to be able to sell records.” So far Glen Campbell, Jack Jones, Roger Williams, Patti Page, Cleo Laine, Sha Na Na and others (as well as Boone himself) have lived up to the Founder’s Maxim. More than 30 Gold Record albums have been released to date.

Boone has involved himself in a couple of personal projects: “For My Country,” a musical acknowledgment to the National Guard that Boone wrote himself, and regards as a follow-up to his Pledge of Allegiance pitch, “Under God,” recorded a couple of years ago, which became Boone’s 61st hit record. Tuned to current events, close to Boone’s heart and views, both stirred up debate as well as sales. “It’s not just liberals who can stir things up through recordings,” he says.

An updated pictorial autobiography, “Pat Boone’s America 50 Years” has joined the line of more than a dozen autobiographical and motivational books. He became a book author for the first time, writing the still-in-print “Twixt Twelve And Twenty,” in 1958 as a Teen Idol, himself barely out of his own teens. His newest book venture, co-written with Cord Cooper, is “Questions About God – And the Answers That Could Change Your life.” This book addresses one of today’s hottest topics, and is packed with facts that will challenge readers’ thinking.

Today Boone keeps connected to that 50s Generation, now pre-Boomers and Boomers. He is national spokesman for the 60 Plus Association. They hear him on two nationally syndicated radio shows, “The Music of Your Life” and “The Pat Boone Show”, which features contemporary gospel. His personally written columns appear weekly on and, fearlessly embracing politics, religion, and timely causes that catch his attention. In recent months, the topics have ranged from separation of church and state, illegal immigration, abortion, the death penalty, to public education, the NEA and the ACLU. He and his wife Shirley were so concerned about the Cambodian food crises in the 1970s, they initiated what is now a two hundred million dollar a year humanitarian organization called Mercy Corps.

Pat Boone is a man of many interests. Not all to do with music. He thinks he may – at this stage of his career – be suffering from an Edifice Complex.

"They keep naming things after me, even buildings", he says. True. Villanova, Pa., Christian College has Boone Hall – the main campus building, established by royalties from Boone’s million selling book, “Twixt Twelve and Twenty”. There is another Boone Hall in the World Impact Outreach Center for Underprivileged, inner city kids, which is supported by Boone and wife Shirley.

Pepperdine University in California is the home of the Boone Center for the Family (Boone has been chairman of Pepperdine’s Advisory Board for the past 12 years.

Boone Fact #1 (that you may not know) Boone once sponsored a basketball team in Hollywood’s Studio League whose players included Bill Cosby, Rafer Johnson, players from the Rams and Dodgers – and of course Boone himself.

In the beginning, Pat Boone was not just a rock ‘n roll star but also a symbol. Deflected from a high school teaching career by TV and radio appearances on such programs as “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour” (in which he became the original American Idol, selected week after week by the viewers), and “The Arthur Godfrey Show,” the Columbia U., New York, graduate was further turned away from academics by record producer Randy Wood of Dot Records who thought Pat Boone could sing rock ‘n roll.

“I thought I would be singing the Perry Como, Eddie Fisher type of ballad,” recalls Pat. “I was a big Bing Crosby fan.”

But Wood came up with a concept, one that would turn Boone into a major star and lead to Hollywood movies and his own TV shows. Also, one that would lead to Boone’s first musical brouhaha.

Wood wanted Boone to record cover versions of black R & B pioneers, such as Fats Domino and Little Richard, hard driving and blues based and a long, long way from Perry Como. The records were very successful but lead to critics accusing Boone of ripping off the originators, an indictment still around today.

Boone does not apologize. “Everybody was aware that the original artists were not going to get played on 90 percent of the radio stations in America,” he told fellow label chief, Joe Smith. “{They} hoped and prayed their records would get covered by someone who could get airplay. It meant…even more recognition in their own field. We were sort of like catalysts who helped R & B become rock ‘n roll. A ridiculous indictment still around today.”

Boone also remembers the time Fats Domino brought him on stage, pointed to the most expensive diamond ring on his finger, and said, “Pat Boone bought me this ring.”Adds Boone, smiling: “He meant, of course, the royalties from his ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ that I recorded, paid for it!”

By the way, in the midst of all this early success, Boone continued at Columbia University, graduating Magna cum Laude in 1958, appearing on the cover of TV Guide in his cap and gown.

Boone Fact #2 (that you may not know) Pat Boone has a sense of humor about himself and his clean cut image. He once kidded Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show that he nearly drowned while swimming and, as is supposed to happen, his whole life flashed before him. “What did you do?” asked Carson. “I fell asleep,” replied Boone.

Boone’s recording career was stratospheric: from the 1950s on, nearly 50 million records sold, 38 Top 10 hits, gold, and platinum records. Boone rates #6 among artists with the most consecutive Top 10 hits, #10 with the most Top 40 hits and #16 with the most No. 1 hits. He began producing other artists and also branched into gospel music, starting his first label, gospel-based Lamb & Lion Records. A Boone album of hymns sold three million, considerably opening up the market and allowing Boone to stay loyal to this genre all his life. He hosted a gospel TV program for a decade and syndicated gospel music radio shows for much longer.

He was also fired from his job hosting the TV show. All because he dabbled with the devil and recorded an album of …Heavy Metal Music!

It was not only the music but Boone’s appearance on the American Music Awards. In black leather and fake tattoos, he was promoting his new album, “In A Metal Mood,” heavy metal songs given a Pat Boone treatment. Millions saw the joke (“It was a parody of myself”, says Boone) but not the “gospel arena” who dropped him as host of that TV show until they listened to the music and finally saw what he was doing, that it was perfectly fine, and reinstated him.

Boone’s original teen idol success, not to mention his classic boy-next-door good looks, attracted Hollywood’s interest, leading to Boone starring in 14 movies…and they were major features, not rock ‘n roll quickies. They showcased Boone with such stars as Ann Margaret, James Mason, Debby Reynolds and Tony Curtis and were box office hits. He was, in fact, Elvis’ main competition at this time, mid-fifties onwards. Television beckoned: Boone became the youngest person to have his own weekly musical variety show (ABC), at times the number one show in television, and was an in-demand guest star for other shows, both musical and dramatic. Advertisers discovered that Pat Boone’s personality sold things. He became an accomplished TV pitchman, especially for the Chevrolet company for many years.

Boone fact #3 (that you may not know): Elvis Presley once opened in concert for Boone. “I had to follow him,” recollects Boone. “Thank God I had a couple of hit records then and I was the star that night. I never followed Elvis again!”

In 1959 Pat Boone wrote the lyric to the theme from the movie “Exodus,” about the creation of the State of Israel. It provided him a special connection with the country, one that he has maintained. Today Boone is Christian Ambassador to Israel, leading many tours of the country for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He also possesses an Israel Cultural Award, the country’s highest award for a non native. He is spokesman for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews “Wings of Eagles” program, allowing 300,000 Jews from iron curtain countries to resettle in Israel.

Boone has been National Spokesman for the March of Dimes, the National Association of the Blind, Entertainment Chairman for the National Easter Seal telethon (18 years) which raised over $600 million for the disabled during his tenure. His own Cambodian relief organization formed in the 1970s, “Save The Refugees” is now Mercy Corps, currently operating in 23 countries and responsible, so far, for delivering $800 million worth of food and supplies where needed.

Pat Boone has another statistic, not usually found in the world of rock ‘n roll. He and wife Shirley have been married 55 years (four daughters, 15 grandkids) and have lived in the same Beverly Hills house for 40 years.

People agree and disagree with Pat Boone – about rock ‘n roll, politics, religion, the usual stuff. Boone knows he can’t be all things to all people, But most people agree on one thing… Pat Boone has lived his life, engineered his career, utilized his talent and celebrity with integrity.

Boone Fact #4 (that you may not know): Pat Boone is a non-drinker but he thinks he knows what it’s like to be drunk. In New York, waiting for the light, he heard his version of “Ain’t That A Shame” played on the car radio next to him, a car crowded with teenagers obviously really enjoying the music. “Hearing a record of mine on the air for the first time, and seeing the reactions of the kids, was the closest I ever came to being drunk”.