Af­ter 51 years, Boone still sell­ing records, con­ser­va­tive views

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Chrissie Thompson

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.”

Bert V. Goulait / The Wash­ing­ton Times

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.

File photo

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.

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