After 51 years, Boone still selling records, conservative views
The kid in the white buck shoes no longer wears his signature footwear, but not much else has changed about Pat Boone in his 51year recording career.
He’s still selling records. His 2003 pro-Pledge of Allegiance single “Under God” hit No. 15 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. And he’s still an icon of rock ’n’ roll — and the conservative cause.
In 2003, Mr. Boone became the national spokesman for the 60 Plus Association, a conservative senior-citizen advocacy group that focuses on repealing the estate tax, preserving Social Security for young people and achieving energy independence.
He arrived in white boots — not bucks — to promote his book “Pat Boone’sAmerica—50Years:APop Culture Journey Through the Last Five Decades” with an appearance at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
“TheAmericathatIstartedoutin isdifferentnow,”hesaid.“Ihope[the book] will be seen as a benign but helpful social commentary.”
Mr. Boone’s book, released last month, covers his recollections about his career and pop culture experiences.
Famous for his squeaky clean image — he was preaching on Sundays in 1954 in Slidell, Texas, the same year he won two talent shows that propelled him to rock ’n’ roll stardom — Mr. Boone still holds the No. 10 spot on Billboard magazine’s all-time best-selling artist list.
Speaking on NOv. 29 at the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Boone called for a new American Revolution — not against the British, as in the 18th century, but against “cancerous growth from within.”
“Our valiant ship of state [. . . ] is threatening after only 230 [or] 40 years to sink into the abyss of history,” he said. “We won our first revolution, under God. Now, because of the inroads that have been made already against many of the values that we hold dear [. . . ] I call for a new revolution.”
Mr. Boone attributed the “leaks” in the sinking “ship of state” to ignorance, apathy, judicial activism, a combination of materialism and need, and the “unholy trinity” of humanism, immorality and godlessness.
Hecalledforsocialresponsibility as the answer to the growing neediness in the U.S. instead of relying on “big government,” a phrase he said means “the groaning taxpayers.”
When speaking of the “unholy trinity,” he said many U.S. citizens havethewrongideaaboutfreedom.
“They want freedom of filth,” he said of television and radio personalities. “Our Founding Fathers would have had them tarred and feathered and whipped in the public square. [. . . ]
“Freedom depends on personal responsibility, and if we’re not going to exercise personal responsibility, then the freedom will be abused and finally lost.”
Mr. Boone also kidded about throwingactivistjudgesintothesea, like colonists did with tea during the Boston Tea Party.
“It won’t hurt the robes, and the [. . . ] jurists can swim right out of themandenrollinConstitution101,” he said.
Mr. Boone first became a recordingartistin1954afterwinning“The Original Amateur Hour.” He first made a No. 1 single with his 1955 cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and at age 20 became the youngestpersontohosthisowntelevision show, “The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom,” from 1957 to 1960.
His career has included 45 million units sold and 38 songs that made the top 40. Only Elvis Presley, who once opened for Mr. Boone at a 1955Clevelandsockhop,surpassed him in records sold in the 1950s.
WhenMr.BooneheardMr.Presley would open for him, he said, “He’s a hillbilly. You think they’re going to like him in this rock ‘n’ roll time?”
While Mr. Presley now rests in peace, Mr. Boone’s recording is still going strong. He released six albums in 2005 and 2006, all highlighting different genres, including patriotic, country, gospel, love ballads, R&B, Latin and Celtic music.
Even though Mr. Boone became successful after winning a talent show, he does not approve of many aspects of “American Idol,” including the judges’ demeaning comments about participants.
“We see people crumble before our eyes when they feel that their cherisheddreamisnotgoingtohappen;therefore,they’reworthlessbecause they’re not American Idols,” he said. “Where would our country be if that’s all we had?”
Mr. Boone credits his recording successtohisChristianfaith.Hetold The Washington Times he made God his agent.
“As‘AmericanIdol’hasdiscovered, lots and lots of people can do what I do,” he said. “I don’t consider myself anyexceptionaltalent—butIprayed asakidthatGodwouldusemylifein some way meaningful to Him.”
Jim Martin, president of the 60 Plus Association, said Mr. Boone’s outspoken conservatism has hurt his career.
“Hemakesnosecretaboutwhere he’scomingfrompolitically,”hesaid. “Most people in Hollywood don’t agree with his view, but even some who do agree with it don’t want to say it out loud because they don’t want it to hurt their careers.”
Mr. Martin said he asked Mr. Boone to serve as spokesman for the organization because Mr. Boone had long donated to the 60 Plus Association.
“I just looked some day and said, ‘Myheavens,that’sPatBoone,’”Mr. Martin said.
Mr. Martin, who popularized using the phrase “death tax” to refer to the estate tax, said Mr. Boone is articulate in explaining the organization’s views.
It’s a message Mr. Boone said is important to him personally.
“I’ve been able to make some money and build an estate that I want to not just leave to my kids but to do good things with,” Mr. Boone told The Washington Times. “The government wants to step in and take half of everything I’ve already paid tax on just because I died [. . . ] so when Jim Martin contacted me andsaid[...]‘Weneedaspokesman,’ I said, ‘I’m your guy.’ ”
Supporters of the 60 Plus Association enjoy meeting Mr. Boone, Mr. Martin said, quoting what one 67year-old woman told him:
“If growing old means you get to meet Pat Boone, I guess there’s something good about growing old after all.”
Pat Boone is using his considerable musical fame as a platform to pursue a different talent: writing. The singer has penned a book, “Pat Boone’s America — 50 Years: A Pop Culture Journey Through the Last Five Decades,” which provides conservative social commentary.
Pat Boone (left) soared to popularity after winning “The Original Amateur Hour” hosted by Ted Mack (right) in 1954 and subsequently became one of the all-time best-selling recording artists.