This is a tough one. How did a devout born again Christian, who attended Columbia University, who is a direct decedent of Daniel Boone, a cousin of the late Richard Boone (Have Gun will Travel), a ballad singer from the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and Arthur Godfrey Shows end up connected to “My” Rock and Roll. Well I will tell you how, he was one of the first and maybe the biggest Cover Record Artist to come out of the Fifties.
I think a lot of people would say that Pat Boone was not on their radar. Well, we lie. In the mid-fifties things where changing fast (you had to be there) and we where desperate for new music. The (white) Cover Artists would take the Black Music, cover it, out-distribute it so that it was the most accessible thing to purchase, and we did would buy it (both Russ and I – even owned a pair of White Buck Shoes, that Pat made famous). After buying cover songs, once we could find the original, and it was difficult, well there was just no comparison.
So I will take you back and show you what the 14 to 16 year old’s faced in that era. It is not anywhere near what exists today, “You really just had to be There”, it was so very exciting. I was not a big fan of his music, but unlike my partner, Russ, do concede to the part Pat Boone played in the Rock and Roll Explosion.
I will present a subset of his music. In doing so I will, for the early songs, also give you the original artists he covered.
All of Pat’s records where made for Randy Wood’s Dot Records! Pat had a shrewd business sense and realized in 1955 that cover records could get him air play. Pat covered a lot of Black artists until finally finding his own niche in late 56 & 57. He became the Pop Ballad singer he was meant to be.
1. Two Hearts (R&B hit for the Charms in 55/ Dot 15338/ 4/2/55/ # 16 Billboard
2. Ain’t It A Shame (original name) – Antoine Fats Domino
2. Ain’t That A Shame/ Dot 15377/ 7/9/55/ # 1 (2) Billboard – Pat Boone cover
3. At My Front Door (original by the El Dorados)
3A. At my Front Door/ Dot 15422/ 10/29/55/ # 7 Billboard – Pat Boone – cover
3B. No Other Arms/ B side/ 11/19/55/ # 26 Billboard
4. I’ll be Home (the original by The Flamingos)
4. I’ll be Home/ Dot 15443/ 2/4/56/ # 4 Billboard – Pat Boone cover
4. Tutti Frutti (original by Little Richard and the Upsetters)
4. Tutti Frutti/ B side/ 2/4/56/ # 12 Billboard – Pat Boone cover
5. Long Tall Sally (original by Little Richard and the Upsetters)
5. Long Tall Sally/ Dot 1547/ 4/28/56/ # 8 Billboard – Pat Boone cover
6. I Almost Lost my Mind/ Dot 15472/ 6/9/56/ # 1 (4) Billboard – Pat Boone cover of Ivory Joe Hunter’s version
— Start of Pat’s own niche —
7. Friendly Persuasion (Movie)/ Dot 15490/ 9/29/56/ # 5 Billboard
8. Chains of Love/ B side (hit for Ivory Joe Hunter)/ 9/29/56/ # 10 Billboard
9. Don’t Forbid Me/ Dot 15521/ 12/22/56/ # 1 Billboard
10. Why Baby Why/ Dot 15545/ 3/23/57/ # 5 Billboard
11A. Love Letters In the Sand/ Dot 15570/ 5/13/57/ # 1 (7) Billboard
11B. Bernadine/ B side/ # 14 Billboard
12A. Remember You’re Mine/ Dot 15602/ 8/12/57/ # 6 Billboard
12B. There’s a Gold Mine In the Sky/ B side/ # 14 Billboard
13. April Love (Movie)/ Dot 15660/10/28/57/ # 1 (6) Billboard
14A. A Wonderful Time Up There/ Dot 15690/ 2/17/58/ # 4 Billboard
14B. It’s Too Soon To Know/ B side/ # 4 Billboard
15. Sugar Moon/ Dot 15790/ 5/12/58/ # 5 Billboard
16. If Dreams Came True/ 7/14/58/ # 7 Billboard
17. Moody River/ Dot 16209/ 5/22/61/ # 1 Billboard
18. Speedy Gonzales/ Dot 16368/ 6/30/62/ # 6 Billboard
Charles Eugene Patrick Boone (known as Pat Boone) (born June 1, 1934) is a singer whose smooth style made him a popular performer of the 1950s. His cover versions of African-American rhythm and blues hits had a noticeable impact on the development of the broad popularity of rock and roll. He is also an actor, a motivational speaker, a television personality, and a conservative political commentator.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, Boone is a direct descendant of the American pioneer Daniel Boone. He grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, attended David Lipscomb College and began recording in 1954 for Republic Records. His 1955 version of “Ain’t That a Shame” was a huge hit, selling far better than Fats Domino’s original version. This set the stage for the early part of Boone’s career, which focused on covering R&B songs by black artists for a white market. Previously, rock ‘n’ roll had had only limited exposure outside of the African American community. Pat Boone’s pale covers gave attention to the more authentic original artists, such as Little Richard and Fats Domino and to rhythm and blues in general. In addition, the songwriters and copyright holders benefited even when individual artists did not.
In fact, only six of Boone’s many hit singles were R&B covers, and only four of those were rockers. All were released in the first two years of his long career. These were “Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino and “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard, and “At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)” by the El Dorados. The other two R&B covers were well-chosen blues ballads, “I Almost Lost My Mind” by Ivory Joe Hunter and “Chains of Love,” a hit for Big Joe Turner and later B.B. King that had been written by Ahmet Ertegun.
By 1957, Boone was concentrating on the middle-of-the-road music that dominated his career. He never recorded another R&B cover.
Known as “The Kid in White Buck Shoes”, Boone sported a clean-cut image that appealed to white teens and parents. His singing style, a rich baritone, followed in the tradition of his idol, Bing Crosby.
Preferring to carry on in the Crosby tradition, he soon began turning more and more to ballads. Some of his biggest hits included “Love Letters in the Sand” (with the instrumental break featuring Boone’s whistling), “April Love”, “Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)”, and “Don’t Forbid Me”.
His teen idol popularity in the late 1950s was second only to that of Elvis Presley, and, like Presley, he soon tried his hand at acting. Boone’s pictures included 1960’s Journey to the Center of the Earth alongside Hollywood notable James Mason.
A devout born-again Christian, he was raised in the conservative Church of Christ, but has been a member of a Pentecostal church for more than thirty years. Boone has refused both songs and movie roles that he felt might compromise his standards, including a role opposite the decade’s reigning sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. Among his other achievements, he hosted a TV series in the late 1950s and began writing in the early 1960s, a series of self-help books for adolescents, including Twixt Twelve and Twenty.
The British Invasion effectively ended Boone’s career as a hit maker, though he continued recording throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s, he switched to gospel and country, and he continued performing in other media as well, most importantly radio.
Boone married Shirley Lee Foley, daughter of country music great Red Foley and singer Judy Martin, in 1953 and they had four daughters: Cherry, Lindy, Debby, and Laury. In the 1960s and 1970s the Boone family toured as gospel singers and made gospel albums, such as The Pat Boone Family and The Family Who Prays.
In the early 1990s, Boone joined Amway and spoke at many motivational seminars. He was also a distributor. He never reached the coveted Amway rank of Diamond.
In 1997, Boone released In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, a collection of heavy metal covers revamped to fit his style. To promote the album, he appeared at the American Music Awards in black leather, shocking audiences and losing his respectability among his largest constituency, conservative Christians. He was then fired from Gospel America, a TV show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
About a year later, the controversy died down and many fans, including Jack Hayford, accepted his explanation of the leather outfit being a “parody of himself”. He was re-hired by Trinity Broadcasting and Gospel America was brought back.
In 2003, the Gospel Music Association of Nashville, Tennessee recognized his gospel recording work by inducting him into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Boone and his wife live in Los Angeles, California. They are members of The Church on the Way in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. His one-time neighbor was Ozzy Osbourne and his family. Boone’s cover of Osborne’s song “Crazy Train” became the theme song for The Osbornes. (It appears on The Osbornes Soundtrack.) Osborne said that Boone “never complained once” about living next door to his less-than-traditional family.
Boone once claimed to use his own surname in lieu of curse words when upset.
In 2006, Boone penned an article for WorldNetDaily in which he argued that Democrats and others who are against the Iraq War cannot, under any circumstances, be considered patriotic. He also recently was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News, where he expressed his outrage against the opponents of George W. Bush (namely the Dixie Chicks) that their criticisms of the President showed they did not “respect their elders”.
He is currently working as the disc jockey of a popular oldies radio show and runs his own record company which provides a much-welcomed outlet for new recordings by 1950s greats who can no longer find a place with the major labels.