Anne and I met Pat Boone in 1999 while in Los Angeles
Pat Boone was the second most popular singer of the late 50's [behind Elvis Presley] and sold many, many records. His trademark was his white bucks, an unusual style of shoes that became fashionable for a time in the 50's.
He was born Charles Eugene Boone in 1934 in Jacksonville, Florida, and moved with his family to Tennessee in 1936. He began his professional singing career while a student at North Texas State College. In 1953, while still in his teens, Pat married Shirley Lee Foley, a marriage that has endured to this day. The following year he appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and Ted Mack's Amateur Hour, winning both. He signed his first recording contract with Republic Records in 1954.
A short while later Pat was signed to the Dot label, one that he would stay with throughout his run on the charts from 1955 to 1962. His first top forty song was Two Hearts, a cover of an R&B hit for the Charms which went to number sixteen for Pat in 1955. It was common at the time for white artists to cover R&B hits, and more often than not the disc jockeys would play the cover version. Pat Boone had a smooth style, a clean-cut image, and of course, his white bucks. His next offering was a cover of Fats Domino's Ain't That A Shame, a song that propelled both Fats and Pat to stardom. Both versions entered the charts in July, 1955 with the former's going to number ten, and Pat Boone's version going all the way to number one. He followed with another cover of a song from a black artist, this time the El Dorados' At My Front Door [Crazy Little Mama], which quickly became his second record to reach the top ten.
Pat Boone was doing good R&B songs, and doing them in his own smooth style, which was quite different from the way they had been done originally. Some found it laughable, but the formula worked and the records sold well. He took on Little Richard, recording Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally, both of which he made into big hits. He was successful with the Five Keys' Gee Whittakers! and Ivory Joe Hunter's I Almost Lost My Mind, the latter of which in 1956 became Boone's second number one hit. He covered Joe Turner's Chains Of Love, and had another number one with Don't Forbid Me.
By 1957 Pat Boone's popularity had skyrocketed and the movie and television producers began to come calling. He appeared in 15 films, including Bernardine, April Love, and State Fair. From 1957 to 1960 he hosted his own television series The Pat Boone/Chevy Showroom. He somehow managed to finish his degree, graduating from Columbia University in New York City in 1958. And all the while, the hits kept coming: Why Baby Why, Love Letters In The Sand [which held the number one spot for seven weeks], and April Love [number one for six weeks] were huge hits in 1957. The following year he continued to put records in the top ten, including A Wonderful Time Up There and Sugar Moon.
In 1959 and 1960 Pat Boone continued to sell many records, although his production of top ten songs slowed down a bit. Some of his songs during this period included With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair and Twixt Twelve and Twenty. In 1961 he came back with Moody River, which was to be his fifth and final number one song. His final top forty song was a novelty record, Speedy Gonzalez in 1962. The female backing voice on this song was Robin Ward, and it peaked at number six.
Pat had always been a very religious person. After fading from the pop music scene in the mid-60's, he made some bad investments and had some marital difficulties. He credited his faith with seeing him through some hard times. Pat and his wife Shirley had four daughters: Cherry, Lindy, Debby, and Laury. In the 60's and 70's the Boone family toured as gospel singers and made gospel albums, such as The Pat Boone Family and The Family Who Prays. From 1975 to 1980 he recorded more gospel albums on the Lamb & Lion label, such as Born Again and Golden Hymns. Pat also had a number of country hits in the 70's, with singles Indiana Girl and Texas Woman and albums I Love You More And More Each Day and The Country Side Of Pat Boone. Pat has always been popular in the UK, where he had 27 records reach the top forty, only one of which made number one. That was I'll Be Home in 1956.
Pat Boone is related by blood or marriage to a number of well known people. He is a direct descendant of pioneer Daniel Boone. His wife Shirley is the daughter of legendary country music singer Red Foley and the sister of singer Betty Foley. Pat's younger brother is singer Nick Todd, who had a top forty song of his own with At The Hop in 1958. Pat's daughter Debby married Gabriel Ferrer, who is the son of Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney. Debby had an illustrious singing career for a brief time, winning Grammy awards for her tremendously successful You Light Up My Life, which was the biggest selling record of 1977 and held the number one position for ten weeks.
Pat Boone surprised some people when he appeared at the American Music Awards in 1997 dressed in chains and a leather vest and sporting fake tattoos, but without his trademark white bucks this time. He was promoting a new album that he had made of covers of heavy metal music. The songs were recorded in his original Pat Boone style. It was a formula that had worked quite well for him in the 50s.