Pat Boone was the most successful of the teen idols; only Rick Nelson came close to his thirty-eight Top Forty hits. His accomplishments are tainted, however, because many of his early hits were cleaned-up cover versions that outsold the aesthetically superior originals, including Fats Domino’s "Ain’t That a Shame, the El Dorados’ "At My Front Door," Little Richard’s "Tutti Frutti" and Long Tall Sally," Ivory Joe Hunter’s "I Almost Lost My Mind," Joe Turner’s "Chains of Love," and the Five Keys’ "Gee Whittakers!"
Allegedly a direct descendant of frontier legend Daniel Boone, he lettered a three sports and served as student body president while attending high school in Nashville. Marrying country & western star Red Foley’s daughter, Shirley, he attended David Lipscomb College in Nashville before transferring to North Texas State. While there he won a local talent show, which led to an appearance on Ted Mack’s program and then a one-year stint on Arthur Godfrey’s amateur hour.
In the mid-1950s Boone recorded a number of modestly successful singles for Nashville’s Republic Records. He recording of "Two Hearts" (Dot 15338; 1955) was the first of fifty-nine charting singles (through late 1966) for that label. His number one hits included "Ain’t That a Shame" (Dot 15377; 1955), "I Almost Lost My Mind" (Dot 15472; 1956), "Don’t Forbid Me" (15521; 1956-1957), "Love Letters in the Sand" (Dot 15570; 1957), "April Love" (Dot 15660; 1957), and "Moody River" (Dot 16209; 1961). During the late 1950s, he was arguably surpassed only by Elvis Presley as a pop culture hero. He starred in fifteen films, most notably Bernadine (1957), April Love (1957), and State Fair (1962). In addition, he had his own television series, The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom (ABC) from 1957-1960.
When the hits stopped coming, Boone continued recording for various labels, including Tetragrammaton and Curb. He continued to write books dispensing advice, including Pray to Win (1981) and the teen-oriented Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Between You, Me and the Gatepost, and The Care and Feeding of Parents. Since 1983 he has hosted a contemporary Christian radio show heard nationwide on approximately 200 stations. In addition to appearing on many TV programs, he has starred in a number of stage productions (e.g., The Will Rogers Follies in Branson, Missouri). [Romanowski and George-Warren. 1995]
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