Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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BOONE, Pat

(b Charles Eugene Boone, 1 June 1934, Jacksonville FL) Pop singer, said to be a direct descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone. He began his professional career while still at North Texas State College, and was signed to the Dot label by Randy Wood, who was looking for a white kid to cover R&B hits. His first record 'Two Hearts' (written by Otis Williams for the Charms) was the first of 38 USA top 40 hits '55-62, ten top tens and six at no. 1.

His style was distinguished only by smoothness; his clean-cut image and trademark 'white bucks' (shoes) made him the second most commercially successful singer of the late '50s after Elvis Presley. He covered Fats Domino's 'Ain't That A Shame' (no. 1 '55: label boss Wood resisted Boone's suggestion that they change the title to 'Isn't That A Shame') and Ivory Joe Hunter's 'I Almost Lost My Mind' (no. 1 '56), but his versions of Little Richard were risible; he later claimed he didn't know what the words meant. White kids sorted each other according to who bought Richard and who bought 'Baboon'.

After Richard's 'Long Tall Sally' beat Boone's cover in the chart Boone switched to ballads, including 'Don't Forbid Me', 'Love Letters In The Sand', 'April Love' and 'Moody River', all chart toppers; his last top 40 entry was novelty 'Speedy Gonzales' (no. 6). He made films Bernadine and April Love '57; State Fair '62; had his own TV series '57-60. Married to Shirley, Red Foley's daughter, he had four daughters: Laury, Lindy, Cherry and Debbie. His fade from the pop scene was accompanied by bad business investments and marriage trouble but his religious belief provided strength: they made gospel albums The Pat Boone Family (Word, '74), New Songs Of The Jesus People, The First Nashville Jesus Band, The Family Who Prays; he continued with Born Again, S.A.V.E.D., Golden Hymns, Just The Way I Am (all on his Lamb and Lion label, '75-80). Debbie became a successful white gospel artist. He also had country hits 'Indiana Girl' (Melodyland '75), 'Texas Woman' (Hitsville '77); albums I Love You More And More Each Day (MGM '73), Country Love (DJM '77), The Country Side Of Pat Boone (Hitsville '77). His label went broke; he appeared with vice- presidential candidate Dan Quayle in a gospel sing-in, and was offered Jim Bakker's job as a religious TV host after Bakker's scandal, but turned it down.

Pat Boone In A Metal Mood: No More Mr Nice Guy '97 included songs by Van Halen etc backed by a big band, the guitars replaced by trombones (we did not make this up).