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What’s with this? Gold Label Artists is promoting the coming release of a new project. But with “Pat Boone” and “The Ink Spots” on the label, shouldn’t it be classified a “golden oldie?”
Actually, it’s older than most golden oldies and as new as YouTube and American Idol. It’s a flashback to the beginning of Boone’s remarkable five-decade-plus career with a tribute to one of the biggest influences on rhythm and blues and rock and roll thrown in.
The title is “Pat Boone Sings a Tribute to the Ink Spots, Featuring Take 6,” and it is scheduled to be released next month. It honors the original Ink Spots, who were highly influential in the R and B and rock ‘n roll genres and played a role in the launch of Boone’s entertainment career. Boone had recording contracts, movie projects and other accomplishments by his early 20s, an age when many American Idol participants still are “hopefuls.”
Boone told WND that he began work on the project because of the way the Ink Spots and other rhythm and blues headliners figured in his own career. He said his work then brought an appreciation for that music to the larger mainstream music community in America.
Boone’s legendary career includes work as a singer, actor, television host, songwriter, author, motivational speaker, WND columnist, TV pitchman, radio personality, record company head, TV station owner, sports team owner, family man and humanitarian.
He’s No. 10 all time among recording artists, according to Billboard. He’s sold some 50 million records, had 38 Top 40 radio hits and multiple Gold and Platinum RIAA certified records.
He contacted Take 6, the 10-time Grammy- and Dove- winning vocal sensation that has created a stir in the music industry, and the work was on.
The result, he said, is a new tribute to the Ink Spots, with covers of their titles, “You Always Hurt (The One You Love),” “Christopher Columbus,” “Cow-Cow Boogie,” “Do I Worry,” “Java Jive” and others.
He told WND that although he was born in Jacksonville, Fla., he grew up in Nashville during a time in America when music audiences were different. Talented, he approached the music industry and thought he might sing ballads like Perry Como.
“I was a big Bing Crosby fan,” he said.
But coming off a sensational run of appearances on “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour,” Randy Wood of Dot Records pushed him another direction.
“Here I was, this white kid from Nashville, and he had me singing what then was called ‘race music’ – rhythm and blues.”
Among his first titles were “Two Hearts, Two Kisses,” originally by a group called the “Charms,” as well as “Ain’t That a Shame,” by Fats Domino.
Boone noted that Domino’s recording of “Ain’t That A Shame” sold 150,000 copies; when Boone did the song, it told 1.5 million.
He recalls being in New Orleans later where Domino was performing, and he was called down to the stage. There, Domino flashed a piano-shaped diamond ring on his finger and told the crowd, “Folks, this man bought me this.”
He was referring to the royalties from the song.
Boone said he worked and watched as “pop” radio gradually adopted the best of the rhythm and blues, and his projects included studio time with James Brown; Earth, Wind & Fire; Kool and the Gang; and Smokey Robinson.
A goal, he said, was convincing the “huge white audience” to appreciate the songs of the black community.
Boone said the newest project is a return to his roots: taking the work of a group like the Ink Spots and re-introducing it to the large audience that he still in many ways commands.
He told WND that growing up in a Christian household, he was more or less oblivious to the issue of black-and-white. He said that attitude stood him in good stead in his career.
His early years were a rocket upward, with Columbia University, a number of hit records, three movies, a family with four children and other accomplishments by the time he was 23.
One of his works was a television show sponsored by Chevrolet, featuring guests such as Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. Then one day Harry Belafonte, then one of the premiere headliners in Hollywood, asked to be a guest.
“You’re not going to believe this,” he told his next production meeting. “Harry Belafonte wants to be on my show.”
He was met with sober looks.
“We can’t do it. He’s creating some stir with civil rights statements,” Boone was told.
It was his turn to have a sober look.
He told WND he informed his program team that if he was told to refuse Belafonte’s offer, they would have to find someone else to finish the show’s season.
He got his way, although schedule conflicts ultimately did not allow the entertainers on the same show the rest of that season.
He also explained how when in 1960 he was invited to a concert tour in South Africa, he insisted that apartheid be suspended so anyone with money for a ticket could get into his concerts. He said the government agreed on the condition he not publicize the concession.
He said his concern that a modern generation would miss out on the talent of the Ink Spots was raised when Debby gave him the album. His solution was to reach out to Take 6 and propose the tribute.
The new album “lives up to all my hopes,” Boone said. “It’s’ just a great combination [honoring] the Ink Spots, a seminal black group to cross the lines and be welcome on anybody’s television show.
“It’s going to introduce the songs and musicianship of the Ink Spots to another generation,” he said.
Boone rates No. 6 among artists with the most consecutive Top 10 hits, No. 10 with the most Top 40 hits and No. 16 with the most No. 1 hits. He’s done 14 movies, sharing the billing with Ann Margaret, James Mason, Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis.
He became the youngest person to have his own weekly musical variety show, on ABC, which at times was the No. 1 show in television. He was 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with more than one song, and has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his music, television and movies.
He’s been honored with the Israel Cultural Award, been a spokesman for March of Dimes, the National Association for the Blind, the National Easter Seal telethon and has his own Cambodian relief organization.
He’s been married to Shirley for more than 50 years, and they have lived in the same Beverly Hills house for 40 years.
But Boone’s five decades in the recording industry appear to be just a beginning, as he now has his own record company, The Gold Label, which is designed for legendary artists of certifiable talent.
So far, Glen Campbell, Jack Jones, Roger Williams, Patti Page, Cleo Laine, Sha Na Na and others, including Boone himself, have lived up to the founder’s idea, as more than 30 albums have been released.
A brief look at the original Ink Spots:
And here’s a glance at Take 6: