One of the undisputed icons of the 1950s, Pat Boone is one of rock 'n' roll's least appreciated founding fathers. Like Elvis Presley, Boone was a humble country boy aspiring to croon his way to pop chart fame; both made their entrée through the budding R&B-based rock 'n' roll scene. Boone also started out at a small label before he hit nationally a full year before Presley, creating an opening in the mainstream for the future rock king and a score of other performers.
Modern rock historians have not been kind to Boone. Those who do not eliminate him from rock's history entirely, accuse him of being an agent in the suppression of true black music. The basis of these charges? The fact that Boone's initial fame came as a white performer who recorded cover versions of songs first made famous by such R&B artists as Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Big Joe Turner. In fact, however, "Shake, Rattle and Roll" did not originate with Bill Haley. Neither did "Hound Dog" originate with Elvis Presley. Jerry Lee Lewis didn't write "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," and Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" was certainly an oldie. And cover versions affected white and black performers alike. For example, the Charms, whose version of "Two Hearts, Two Kisses" started Boone's string of hits, began their own career by covering the Jewells' hit waxing of "Hearts Of Stone."
Yet Boone was held to a different standard than many other artists, and his phenomenal fame and perennial clean-cut image made him an easy target. However, the fact remains that only Elvis Presley and Fats Domino sold more records than did Pat Boone during the first Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll.
Got His Big Break on TV
Born Charles Eugene Boone in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1934, the singer was nicknamed "Pat" because his parents were expecting a girl they planned to name Patricia. A genial southerner, Boone lettered in high school varsity sports, was elected student body president, and was voted most popular boy at Nashville's David Lipscomb High School. There he met Shirley Foley, daughter of country and western star Red Foley. In his first year at David Lipscomb College, Boone married Shirley. Later he would transfer to Columbia University, graduating magna cum laude in 1958. All while nurturing a major career as a recording act and TV star.
While in high school, Boone's piano teacher, Ruth Mallory, took an interest in young Pat's voice, and helped him gather valuable experience singing at talent contests, business luncheons, and local club meetings. His early repertoire consisted of songs he heard on the radio by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Vic Damone, Nat King Cole, and the Mills Brothers. Boone's brother Nick, who later recorded for Dot under the name Nick Todd, loved the post-World War II R&B sounds and played them for his more straightlaced brother. Eventually, a talent contest win for Pat led to an appearance on NBC-TV's Ted Mack Amateur Hour. This resulted in the young baritone's string of appearances on CBS's Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show and a recording contract with Republic Records in 1954. Boone's work for Republic featured big band brass and reeds, similar to Perry Como and Dean Martin's work from that era. But it was his 1955 move to Randy Wood's Dot label that marked the real start of Boone's recording career. Out of the gate, he scored a solid hit with his version of the Charms' "Two Hearts, Two Kisses." Recorded in Chicago, it was one of Boone's most authentic-sounding R&B-flavored attempts, but after Dot Records asked him for more of the same, the floodgates of controversy opened.
From the birth of the recording industry through the heyday of the singer-songwriters of the 1960s, the cover song was a common industry practice. It was not unusual for a dozen different versions of a hit song to be retooled for specific markets and audiences. Until the barriers between white and black music were lowered somewhat during the late 1950s, a cover version was a white listener's best shot at being exposed to songs that began as R&B hits. Boone's vanilla versions of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame," Litttle Richard's "Tutti Frutti," the Flamingo's "I'll Be Home," Ivory Joe Hunter's "I Almost Lost My Mind," and Big Joe Turner's "Chains Of Love," among others, were wildly popular. His very popularity made Boone a lightning-rod for critics who felt he was somehow stealing a record out from under the original artists and reinforcing the inherent racism of the broadcast industry.
Recordings Masterminded by Randy Wood
In an interview for Roctober, Boone gave credit for his phenomenal record sales to Dot Records' chief Randy Wood. "I didn't pick the songs in most cases. He did. Then once he picked those really good songs, we'd record. We'd do three or four songs in a session and then put out the best one, sometimes the best two. If it was a hit and then we had two or three others, then we'd make an album." While Boone and Wood covered R&B songs, neither ever asked the artists or writers to cut them in for a piece of the song credits or publishing in the same way that Elvis Presley's management did.
Once the cover version craze was over and R&B artists began getting airplay with their own offerings, Boone forged a soft-pop sound that became equally popular. Like Presley's, many of Boone's records were two-sided hits, usually not by design. "For 'Love Letters In the Sand,' Randy Wood loved it, but I don't think he had any idea it would be the biggest-selling single I ever had," explained Boone, "because he put it on the other side of 'Bernadine,' which was the Johnny Mercer title song from my first movie." Another of Boone's big hits of the 1950s was "Don't Forbid Me," recorded in less than 20 minutes at the end of a session, and which went on to sell over three million copies.
For the Record …
Born Charles Eugene Boone on June 1, 1934, in Jacksonville, FL; married Shirley Foley, c. 1952; children: Laury, Lindy, Cherry, Debby. Education: Attended David Lipscomb College; Columbia University, degree in speech and English, magna cum laude, 1958.
Appeared on Ted Mack Amateur Hour, early 1950s; appeared on Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, 1954; recorded for Republic Records, Nashville, TN; recorded for Dot Records, 1955–68; appeared on weekly television program The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom; appeared in films, including State Fair, Mardi Gras, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and April Love; published books Twixt Twelve and Twenty, 1960, Between You, Me and the Gatepost, 1960, and A New Song, 1970; appeared in The RV Video Guide, 1989; hosted various TV specials and series for the Christian Broadcasting Network, 1990–97; recorded the album In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy for Hip-O Records, 1997; started the Pat's Gold website/record label, 2000.
Awards: Golden Laurel Award, Top Male Musical Performance, for Mardi Gras, 1958; Golden Laurel, Top New Male Personality, 1958; Golden Globe for Television Achievement, 1959; Israel Cultural Award, 1979.
Addresses: Office—Pat Boone Enterprises, 9200 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 1007, Los Angeles, CA 90069, website: http://www.patsgold.com. Website—Pat Boone Official Website: http://www.patboone.com.
Boone's picture graced the cover of the August 19, 1957, issue of Newsweek. The magazine crowed that at the age of 23, Boone had in two years cut a dozen singles selling over 13 million copies. And the singer had signed a three-million-dollar, five-year contract for a weekly TV show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Meanwhile, Hollywood was offering the star a million dollars for a multi-picture deal. Boone subsequently made some 15 movies, including State Fair, Mardi Gras, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The Safe Alternative to Elvis Presley
Among its pronouncements about Boone's career, Newsweek proclaimed the star's voice "quite unspectacular by any standards." Yet even superstar Frank Sinatra was charmed; the Chairman of the Board was quoted as saying that Boone was better than Elvis Presley and would last longer. Noting Boone's membership in the Church of Christ, the article reported that Boone adhered to church rules prohibiting smoking and drinking, though this cost him TV sponsorship by alcohol and tobacco companies. Boone went so far as to refuse to kiss actress Shirley Jones, though the shooting script of April Love called for it.
Newsweek reported that "even TV columnists, notoriously tough nuts to crack, respect him." Toward the end of the magazine's profile a critic proclaimed, "The teenagers are finally revolting against the musical delinquents…. [Boone's] full of charm, extraordinary poise, and ease. Why, this boy is the new Bing [Crosby]."
Boone's string of major hits ended with the 1962 novelty number "Speedy Gonzalez," which featured vocal characterizations of the cartoon mouse by voice-acting legend Mel Blanc. By that time Boone had become a household name and had branched out from singing and film acting to writing and TV work. Boone's status as "the good Elvis," brandishing a smile instead of a sneer and wearing his signature white buck shoes, qualified him to publish a teenage advice book, 'Twixt Twelve and Twenty. All royalties were donated to the Northeastern Institute of Christian Education. The book, a number one best-seller, spawned a companion volume titled Between You, Me and the Gatepost, which appeared in 1960.
Ironically, Boone's own marital life fell prey to difficulty. In his 1970 autobiography, A New Song, in a chapter entitled "The Darkest Hour," Boone revealed that though his wife had given up drinking, smoking, and dancing at his insistence, he himself had gradually acquired all these habits as a Las Vegas performer—and had picked up gambling as well. In the late 1960s, however, in an emotional confession before a church congregation, Boone began a new life as a born-again Christian, and his wife soon joined him.
In 1968 Boone's 13-year contract with Dot Records expired, and he was poised to sign with comedian and television star Bill Cosby's Tetragrammaton label. However, Boone had reservations about the contract, and no formal contract was drawn up, which turned out to be fortunate for Boone because a few months later the label folded after Cosby departed.
By 1957 Boone had fathered three daughters, and a fourth arrived the following year. Their names were Laury, Lindy, Cherry, and Debby. Debby Boone became famous as a singer in her own right, earning Grammys in 1977 and 1980 (for best inspirational performance). The song "You Light up My Life" made her an overnight sensation. By contrast, her father has never been nominated for a Grammy.
A Controversial Christian
During the mid-1970s, often with his family, Boone recorded gospel albums, including The Pat Boone Family Album on the Word label and New Songs of the Jesus People for the Lamb & Lion label. Toward the end of the decade he signed with Motown's short-lived country label, Hitsville, and explored country music in albums such as Country Love and The Country Side of Pat Boone. During the disco craze, he went so far as to double-track his voice on a set of pop standards that actually found favor with one record company executive. Before a deal could be inked, trade publications announced that disco was dead, and the project died on the vine.
The always active Boone did not limit himself to singing. In addition to occasional TV appearances and a regular radio show, Boone and family narrated the 1989 Paramount Home Video production of The RV Video Guide. The rise of religious networks on cable television kept the singer-actor in the public eye during the 1980's and 1990s by showing his Pat Boone USA and Gospel America programs.
An activist for conservative Christian causes, Boone even threatened his own credibility with his core demographic when he recorded an album of Heavy Metal songs done big band style, titled In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. He had previously pulled a similar switch when he converted the rock hits of Elvis Presley to light jazz with his 1964 Dot LP Pat Boone Sings Guess Who?. To promote In a Metal Mood, Boone, who sports a rather mischievous sense of humor, went on the Dick Clark-produced American Music Awards as a presenter with the Godfather of Goth-Rock, Alice Cooper. Dressed in a leather vest without a shirt, and sporting sunglasses, Boone presented a terrific sight gag. However, his employers at the Christian Broadcasting Network failed to see the humor. Boone told Roctober, "Dick Clark said they never had anything that created such an international stir in all the history of the American Music Awards." Boone apologized to his fan base and promptly enjoyed the fruits of a hit album. In 2005, another former teen idol, Paul Anka, released an album with a similar theme to great critical acclaim.
An entrepreneur at heart, Boone started his website/record label Pat's Gold during the early 2000s. Besides reissuing many of his own non-Dot era recordings, the crooner released new works by such middle-of-the-road pop performers as Andy Williams, who got his network TV start as Boone's summer replacement, and by pianist Roger Williams, the Four Freshman, the Mills Brothers, and the faux 1950s group Sha Na Na. However, the biggest seller in the label's history has been Boone's own album, a 2002 collection of patriotic numbers titled American Glory. "The best is yet to come," Boone told Burke in 2003. "I think I have some dessert, some excellent stuff still left to do. Stay tuned."
"Two Hearts," Dot, 1955.
"Ain't That a Shame," Dot, 1955.
"At My Front Door," Dot, 1955.
"I'll be Home," Dot, 1956.
"Long Tall Sally," Dot, 1956.
"I Almost Lost My Mind," Dot, 1956.
"Friendly Persuasion," Dot, 1956.
"Chains of Love," Dot, 1956.
"Don't Forbid Me," Dot, 1956.
"Why Baby Why," Dot, 1957.
"Love Letters in the Sand," Dot, 1957.
"Remember You're Mine," Dot, 1957.
"April Love," Dot, 1957.
"A Wonderful Time Up There," Dot, 1958.
"It's Too Soon to Know," Dot, 1958.
"Sugar Moon," Dot, 1958.
"If Dream Came True," Dot, 1958.
"Twixt Twelve and Twenty," Dot, 1959.
"Fools Hall of Fame," Dot, 1959.
"Welcome New Lovers," Dot, 1960.
"Moody River," Dot, 1961.
"Big Cold Wind," Dot, 1961.
"Speedy Gonzales," 1962.
"Wish You Were Here Buddy," Dot, 1966.
"Texas Woman," Motown, 1976.
Howdy, Dot, 1956.
Pat Boone, Dot, 1956.
A Closer Walk with Thee, Dot, 1957.
Pat, Dot, 1957.
Hymns We Love, Dot, 1957.
Pat Boone Sings Irving Berlin, Dot, 1957.
Star Dust, Dot, 1958.
Yes Indeed!, Dot, 1958.
Tenderly, Dot, 1959.
Side by Side, Dot, 1959.
He Leadeth Me, Dot, 1959.
Pat Boone Sings, Dot, 1959.
White Christmas, Dot, 1959.
Moonglow, Dot, 1960.
This and That, Dot, 1960.
Great! Great! Great!, Dot, 1960.
Moody River, Dot, 1961.
My God and I, Dot, 1961.
I'll See You in My Dreams, Dot, 1962.
Pat Boone Reads from the Holy Bible, Dot, 1962.
State Fair, Dot, 1962.
I Love You Truly, Dot, 1963, 1994.
Days of Wine and Roses, Dot, 1963.
The Star Spangled Banner, Dot, 1963.
Pat Boone Sings Guess Who?, Dot, 1963.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, Dot, 1963.
Sing Along Without Pat Boone, Dot, 1963.
The Touch of Your Lips, Dot, 1964.
Pat Boone , Dot, 1964.
Ain't That a Shame, Dot, 1964.
The Lord's Prayer (and Other Great Hymns), Dot, 1964.
Boss Beat!, Dot, 1964.
Near You, Dot, 1965.
Blest Be Thy Name, Dot, 1965.
Great Hits of 1965, Dot, 1966.
Memories, Dot, 1966.
Wish You Were Here, Buddy, Dot, 1966.
Winners of the Reader's Digest Poll, Dot, 1966.
Christmas is a Comin', Dot, 1966.
How Great Thou Art, Dot, 191967.
I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman, Dot, 1967.
Look Ahead, Dot, 1968.
Departure, Tetragrammaton, 1969.
In the Holy Land, Lion & Lamb, 1972.
New Songs of the Jesus People, Lion & Lamb, 1972.
Born Again, Lion & Lamb, 1973.
Family Who Prays, Lion & Lamb, 1973.
I Love You More and More Each Day, MGM, 1973.
Pat Boone S-A-V-E-D, Lion & Lamb, 1973.
The Pat Boone Family, Word, 1974.
Songs from the Inner Court, Lion & Lamb, 1974.
Something Supernatural, Lion & Lamb, 1975.
Texas Woman, Hitsville, 1976.
Country Love, DJM, 1977.
The Country Side of Pat Boone, Hitsville, 1977.
Pat Boone Sings Golden Hymns, Lion & Lamb, 1984.
Let's Get Cooking, America, Hunt-Wesson, 1987.
Tough Marriage, Dove, 1987.
Pat Boone with the First Nashville Jesus Band, Lion & Lamb, 1988.
I Remember Red: A Tribute to Red Foley, LaserLight, 1994.
Family Christmas, LaserLight, 1995.
20 Hymns Featuring Pat Boone, Benson, 1997.
The Fifties—Complete, Bear Family, 1997.
In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, Hip-O, 1997.
Baby, Oh Baby, Bear Family, 1999.
A Wonderful Time Up There, DJ Specialist, 2002.
American Glory, The Gold Label, 2002.
Thank You, Billy Graham, The Gold Label, 2003.
Glory Train: The Lost Sessions, Oak, 2005.
Ready to Rock, Infinity Nashville, 2005.
Boone, Pat, Between You, Me and the Gatepost, Dell, 1960.
Boone, Pat, A New Song, Creation House, 1970.
Clarke, Donald, editor, Penguin Encyclopedia of Pop Music, Viking, 1989.
Christianity Today, February 5, 1990.
Library Journal, August 1990.
Newsweek, August 19, 1957.
Roctober #28, Summer 2000.
Rolling Stone, April 19, 1990.
"Pat Boone," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (September 2, 2005).
Additional information for this profile was obtained from interviews with Boone in 2000 and 2003, and from material provided by Pat Boone Enterprises, 1994, from which quotations in this entry were drawn.
"Boone, Pat." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boone-pat-0
"Boone, Pat." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boone-pat-0
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During the 1950s Pat Boone was second only to Elvis Presley in rock music popularity; dozens of Boone’s songs were hits, songs written and first sung in many cases by black artists such as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard.
It seems fitting that the singer, born Charles Eugene Boone in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1934, claims direct descent from notable American pioneer Daniel Boone. A genial southerner, Boone lettered in high school varsity sports, was elected student body president, and was voted most popular boy at Nashville’s David Lipscomb High School. There he met Shirley Foley, daughter of country and western star Red Foley. In his first year at David Lipscomb College, Boone married Shirley. Later he would transfer to Columbia University, graduating magna cum laude in speech and English in 1958.
In the early 1950s Boone won a talent contest and was selected to appear on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. This exposure led the young baritone to a year-long string of appearances in 1954 on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show and some recording for Nashville’s Republic Records. But it was a 1955 Dot recording, a mellow version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame,” that hit Number One and marked the real start of Boone’s career.
Early rock pianist and singer Little Richard, for one, claimed not to resent Boone’s cover versions of his songs. In an April 1990 Rolling Stone interview, Richard stated that Boone’s versions were “a blessing” and added, “I believe it opened up the highway that would’ve taken a little longer for acceptance. So I love Pat for that.” Nonetheless, decades earlier, after being outsold by Boone on the rocker’s own creation “Tutti Frutti,” Richard put “so many tricks in ‘Long Tall Sally’ that [Boone] couldn’t get it.”
In other interviews, though, Little Richard has taken a harsher view. In the 1987 documentary Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll, the fiery-tempered Richard admitted to “wanting to get” Boone, who he’d felt was stopping his progress. Boone was interviewed in the same issue of Rolling Stone and took the opportunity to defend himself. Boone pointed out that in those days, 95 percent of radio stations wouldn’t play R&B. Boone remembered, “When I covered his [Little Richard’s] music, he was washing dishes in a bus station in Macon, Georgia. His record was out there, but it wasn’t going to sell enough for him to quit his dish-washing job until I covered it.”
For the Record…
Born Charles Eugene Boone, June 1, 1934, in Jacksonville, FL; married Shirley Foley, c. 1952; children: Laury, Lindy, Cherry, Debby. Education: Attended David Lipscomb College; graduated magna cum laude with a degree in speech and English, Columbia University, 1958.
Appeared on Ted Mack Amateur Hour, early 1950s; appeared on Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts, 1954; recorded for Republic Records, Nashville, TN; recorded for Dot Records, 1955; appeared on weekly television program The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom; appeared in films, including State Fair, Mardi Gras, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and April Love; published ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty, 1960, Between You, Me and the Gatepost, 1960, and A New Song, 1970; appeared in The RV Video Guide, Paramount Home Video, 1989.
Awards: Israel Cultural Award, 1979; named one of ten “most watchable men in the world,” Man Watchers Inc., early 1980s.
Addresses: Office —Pat Boone Enterprises, 9200 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 1007, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Of course a few years later, the pathway paved, radio stations began playing songs by the original black artists. And not long after that, both Little Richard and Pat Boone alike were swept away in the tidal wave of the Beatles. Boone recalled how in the early 1960s his royalties dwindled and he and a painter named Leo Jansen supplemented their income with sales (presumably unauthorized) of Beatles portraits.
Boone always knew that Little Richard touched audiences in away that he could not. He admitted that it took a dozen listenings for one of Richard’s performances to strike Boone as anything other than wild and formless. He did not attempt to imitate this style and watered down the impact of Richard’s work further by altering sexually charged lyrics. For example, “Boy, you don’t know what you do to me” became “Pretty little Suzie is the girl for me.” But sometimes the changes didn’t sit well; Boone suggested retitling the Fats Domino number “Ain’t That a Shame” to the more grammatical “Isn’t That a Shame,” but the owner of Dot Records rejected this idea.
A “blandly handsome” Pat Boone graced the cover of the August 19, 1957, issue of Newsweek. The singer, hair neatly Brill-creamed, square jawed, dressed in a light plaid shirt and yellow sleeveless sweater, casually fingered an acoustic guitar. The magazine crowed that at 23, Boone had in two years cut a dozen singles selling over 13 million copies. And the singer had signed a three-million-dollar, five-year contract for a weekly TV show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom. Hollywood was offering the star a million dollars for a multipicture deal. Boone subsequently made some 15 movies, including State Fair, Mardi Gras, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Among its breathy pronouncements about Boone’s career, Newsweek did admit that the star’s voice was “quite unspectacular by any standards.” Yet even superstar Frank Sinatra was charmed; the Chairman of the Board was quoted as saying that Boone was better than Elvis Presley and would last longer. Noting Boone’s membership in the Church of Christ, the article reported that Boone adhered to church rules prohibiting smoking and drinking, though this cost him TV sponsorship by alcohol and tobacco companies. Boone went so far as to refuse to kiss actress Shirley Jones, though the shooting script of April Love called for it. Boone’s rendition of the film’s title song produced yet another hit.
“Even TV columnists, notoriously tough nuts to crack,” reported Newsweek, “respect him.” One such nut was quoted as remarking, “Wiseacres say he’s corny but he’s a good boy.… Hell, he may even get them [the kids] closer to religion.” Rehabilitation of youth was, in fact, on the nation’s mind: Boone shared the Newsweek cover with a banner headline from an article concerning less successful young men that blared: “Why Boys Kill—Why We Can’t Control Them, OUR JUVENILE JUNGLES.” Toward the end of the magazine’s profile, a critic proclaimed, “The teen-agers are finally revolting against the musical delinquents.… [Boone’s] full of charm, extraordinary poise, and ease. Why, this boy is the new [pop crooner] Bing [Crosby].”
By the time of the Newsweek article, Boone had already fathered three daughters, and a fourth arrived the following year. Their names were Laury, Lindy, Cherry, and Debby. Debby became famous as a singer in her own right, earning Grammys in 1977 and 1980 (for best inspirational performance). The song “You Light up My Life” made her an overnight sensation.
Boone’s status as “the good Elvis,” with docile hips, a smile instead of a sneer, and his signature white buck shoes, qualified him to publish a teenage advice book, ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty. All royalties were donated to the Northeastern Institute of Christian Education. The book’s Number One best-seller success required a companion volume, which appeared in 1960, discussing romance “from first date to love and marriage.” The tome was titled Between You, Me and the Gatepost. This book, too, did well. In one passage, “a pretty co-ed” who, lamenting America’s materialistic obsession with clothes, cars, and televisions, noted, “It’s a terrible thing to discover that we spend more time … collecting and redeeming Blue Chip stamps than we do in prayer.” Boone agreed, though he straddled the fence somewhat by adding that there was nothing really wrong with “a nice TV (especially if you watch the Pat Boone show).”
Ironically, Boone’s own marital life fell prey to difficulty. In his 1970 autobiography, A New Song, in a chapter entitled “The Darkest Hour,” Boone revealed that though his wife had given up drinking, smoking, and dancing at his insistence, he himself had gradually acquired all these habits as a Las Vegas performer—and had picked up gambling as well. Yet Boone would not give them up when his wife asked. Shirley’s love for him and the children began to “slip away,” along with her faith in God. So Boone, in an emotional confession before a church congregation, began on a born-again path, and his wife soon found Christ, too.
The couple’s born-again faith was immediately tested. On a September day in 1968, Boone was forced to fly to Los Angeles to meet with bankers concerning a $700,000 overdraft related to a disastrous partnership purchase of the Oakland Oaks of the now defunct American Basketball Association. Then, calling home, Boone learned that Shirley’s father, Red, had just died.
Also that year, Boone’s 13-year contract with Dot Records expired. Poised to sign with comedian and television star Bill Cosby’s Tetragrammaton label, at the last minute Boone considered reneging, upset over cover art for the label’s other new release: nude pictures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the Two Virgins album. After much prayer, Boone, ready to opt out of the deal, met with label executives. They were sympathetic to his religious concerns and agreed to a “reverse morals clause”—Boone’s contract would lapse if the record company, not the performer, did something unseemly. Finally, it was agreed that no formal contract would be drawn up. This was fortunate for Boone, as a few months later the label went bust following Cosby’s departure.
Preparing to back out of the contract was a bold move considering the Boones’ money problems. The Oakland Oaks debt now amounted to two million dollars. Financial advisors told Boone he would soon have to declare bankruptcy. “It’s in God’s hands,” Boone replied, serene in his newfound faith. Two days later, one Earl Foreman walked into the San Francisco bank handling the singer’s affairs and tendered a check for two million dollars for purchase of the Oaks.
In the mid-1970s, often with his family, Boone recorded gospel albums, including The Pat Boone Family Album, on the Word label, and on the Lamb & Lion label, New Songs of the Jesus People, among others. He made some television appearances in the form of acne cream commercials with his daughters. Toward the end of the decade, he explored country music in albums such as Country Love and The Country Side of Pat Boone.
Throughout the 1980s, the singer strengthened his ties to the religious right, turning his talents to the antiabortion movement. In the late 1980s, Boone appeared on It’s Gotta Stop! Artists Against the Abortion Holocaust, a fundraising effort for the Christian Action Council. The most striking cut, according to a Christianity Today reviewer, was Boone’s “Let Me Live,” sung from a developing fetus’s point of view.
The always active Boone has not limited himself to singing. Aside from occasional TV appearances and a regular radio show, Boone and family narrated the 1989 Paramount Home Video production of The RV Video Guide, which Library Journal deemed “an excellent introduction to the types of vehicles, both motorized and towed.”
“Ain’t That a Shame,” Dot, 1955.
“I Almost Lost My Mind,” Dot, 1956.
“Speedy Gonzales,” 1962.
The Pat Boone Family, Word, 1974.
Country Love, DJM, 1977.
The Country side of Pat Boone, Hitsville, 1977.
Pat Boone’s Greatest Hits, MCA, 1993.
Pat’s Greatest Hits, Curb, 1994.
New Songs of the Jesus People, Lion & Lamb.
It’s Gotta Stop! Artists Against the Abortion Holocaust (includes “Let Me Live”), Diadem.
Boone, Pat, Between You, Me and the Gatepost, Dell, 1960.
Boone, Pat, A New Song, Creation House, 1970.
Penguin Encyclopedia of Pop Music, edited by Donald Clarke, Viking, 1989.
Christianity Today, February 5, 1990.
Library Journal, August 1990.
Newsweek, August 19, 1957.
Rolling Stone, April 19, 1990.
Additional information for this profile was provided by Pat Boone Enterprises, 1994.
—Joseph M. Reiner
"Boone, Pat." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boone-pat
"Boone, Pat." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved February 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/boone-pat