During the 1950s, his records outsold those of the “king of rock ‘n’ roll” – Elvis Presley.
From 1955 to 1962, he had 54 hit singles.
Between 1955 and 1959, he was never off the pop charts.
During the 1950s and 1960s, rock’s formative years, his records were outsold by only one other single vocalist or recording artist – Elvis Presley.
Yet, mysteriously, inexplicably this singer – more than 50 years after his pioneering rock ‘n’ roll career began – remains excluded from Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
His name is Pat Boone.
Not only did Boone have a legendary career in the music business, like Elvis, he used it as a springboard for a successful acting career.
In 1959, he played the lead in the film “Journey To The Center Of The Earth,” based on the science fiction novel by Jules Verne. In all, 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.”
With all of these accomplishments, how is it that Mr. White Bucks could be excluded from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame?
That’s what legendary radio man John Rook would like to know – along with thousands of Boone’s fans.
Rook has created a website – and a movement – to back Boone’s entry into the Hall of Fame. Thousands are signing a petition that will be presented to the Cleveland-based institution.
Maybe the strangest thing about Pat’s exclusion from the rock hall, besides his own overlooked stature, involves a comparison with current inductees.
Begun in 1983, few could argue with the hall’s first inductees: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. But did Boone not deserve to be among those early pioneers? That first round of performers was officially inducted three years later in 1986.
The next round included: The Coasters, Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Bill Haley, B.B. King, Clyde McPhatter, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Smokey Robinson, Big Joe Turner, Muddy Waters and Jackie Wilson. By the next round, a new era of performers had become eligible and they were dominating the new lists of inductees – the Beach Boys, Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Supremes, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and so on.
Had Pat Boone missed his opportunity?
Stranger still lesser stars and those with questionable links to rock ‘n’ roll – LaVern Baker, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Johnny Cash, Ruth Brown, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Etta James, Little Willie John, Parliament-Funkadelic, Lloyd Price, the Moonglows, Solomon Burke, the Flamingos, Gene Pitney and Buddy Guy.
As the list grows, more people are asking, “Where’s Pat?”
There are as many theories surrounding the question.
Pat Boone, himself, an outspoken Christian and conservative commentator for WND and on his own weekly radio show, thinks his omission may be politically inspired – acknowledging happily he doesn’t fit into the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” image of the industry.
He also hypothesizes that he may be excluded precisely because of the kinds of music he recorded so successfully. Some cynics, in fact, suggest he “exploited” rock ‘n’ roll’s black roots by recording cover versions of songs written and originally performed by black artists.
“The truth is that everyone records cover versions of rock songs – even Elvis and the Beatles did it,” says Boone. “Most of the early black artists will tell you this was biggest break they got during those early years. As the composers of those songs, most of them were very pleased. My versions of those songs took them into the mainstream.”
Pat Boone featured on cover of Rolling Stone, Jan. 29, 1976
Boone’s first big break came as a multiple winner of “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour,” a televised talent competition much like some of those popular today. The exposure led to a contract with Republic Records, and one of his first recordings, “Two Hearts, Two Kisses,” a cover of a rhythm and blues hit for the Charms, became Boone’s first hit single. He later moved to Dot Records.
In 1955 his version of the Fats Domino hit “Ain’t That A Shame” reached the top of the charts, and Boone followed up with a string of hits.
Boone recalls Domino pointing to his new Cadillac and explaining that Pat Boone had “bought it for him,” meaning that Boone’s hit delivered a big payday for the black recording star.
Boone followed up that hit with cover versions of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally.” In 1956, he had a hit with a cover of Ivory Joe Hunter’s “I Almost Lost My Mind.”
Few have experienced as much longevity as Boone has known in the entertainment business. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, his family, including Shirley, the daughter of country music star Red Foley, and daughter Debby, who had a smash pop hit of her own with “You Light Up My Life,” toured as gospel singers and recorded Christian music.
He also had international success touring the world. In the United Kingdom, he had 27 records reach the top 40 charts, including one No. 1 hit, “I’ll Be Home.”
Boone is still selling records today – even if they aren’t being given much airplay on the radio. His most recent endeavor has been to record a CD of standard patriotic songs, “American Glory.”
Does it bother Boone not to be recognized by his peers for his role in the pioneering days of rock ‘n’ roll?
He is surprised. There’s no question he would like to be included in the institution. But he’s not holding his breath and he hesitates to become involved in such a movement himself. He would prefer to let his career do the talking.
Meanwhile, the Rock ‘n’ Roll of Fame is not eager to shed light on the mystery. When contacted by WND, communications coordinator Jenny Williams passed the buck – the white buck, in this case – to public relations consultant Elizabeth Freund. Messages left with her this week went unreturned.
If you’d like to sound off on this issue, please take part in the WorldNetDaily poll.