​Pat Boone: Proudly square

Charles Eugene Boone was raised in Nashville, a church-going kid who thought he'd wind up as a teacher or a preacher.

But with a movie star's face and a voice to match, he became a true American idol -- that is, until that group from Liverpool landed.

So, what did The Beatles' arrival in the U.S. do to his musical career? Boone said, "I thought, 'Boy, these guys are good.' Well, when they became huge, suddenly they were selling almost all the records. Mine -- I mean, Tom Jones, the rest of us, Elvis, we were begging for our part of whatever was left!"

He knew he'd never beat The Beatles on the pop charts, so he tried something else: Boone commissioned portraits of the Fab Four, and sold them by the truckload.

"I got the contract from Seltaeb -- 'Beatles' spelled backwards, their licensing arm -- and I made more money selling Beatle pictures that one year than I was making from my records. So, I just got on the Beatle bandwagon," he said.

Seems he's always had an eye for something different, like his 1997 heavy metal album.

"Was that a mistake?" asked Smith.

"No! No, I'm so proud of that," Boone said.

It got him kicked off of Christian TV for a time, but "In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy" was a hit.

And there's something else he's proud of: Boone bought a one-acre Beverly Hills estate in 1960, and it's been his home ever since.

"I didn't want a tennis court," he said. "I wanted grass. I'm from Tennessee. You're walkin' barefoot, see? You can do that here.

"Lately, in the last year, we've had realtors coming and offering us, first one price, the next. I will say we've turned down $10 million. Then we turned down 12. We turned down 14. We turned down $16 million for the place we paid $159,000 for."

Clearly Pat Boone holds on to things he loves. He married Shirley Foley in 1953, when they were both 19 years old.

Smith asked, "How did you know that this was the woman that you could and would be with for the rest of your life?"

"I don't know how anybody knows it. I felt I did," he replied.

Shirley was at his side at a Grammy Museum reception celebrating another new album.

Sixty years in showbiz, and he's not done yet.

When asked if they think their dad will ever retire, daughter Debby said, "He will entertain my mother with that notion, but he's not really going to really entertain it himself."

Daughter Lindy added, "As long as people ask him to sing, he's gonna do it."

And they're still asking: Two weeks ago he and Debby packed a hall in Shipshewana, Indiana.

Debby, you might recall, had a monster hit of other own ("You Light Up My Life").

But Pat Boone can't please every crowd: he's a longtime, outspoken, Tea Party conservative, and he says he's paid a price.

"It's had its difficulties," he said, "because there's a lot of parties and events I hadn't been invited to for a long time."

"Because of your politics?"

"Yeah, sure. And movie parts that I would've been very good for and wanted. Directors have said, 'You know, I don't need, I don't want a guy of his political persuasions,' or they might call me names or whatever."

"Does it bother you if people hear what you're saying about politics and say, 'Oh, I want nothing to do with this guy'?"

"It only bothers me 'cause I think they haven't thought it through, and they maybe think less of me. So It doesn't bother me. I don't like it. I'd like to be loved by everybody, but nobody is."

Call him what you will: right wing, old school, square. Pat Boone just calls himself happy.


For more info:

  • patboone.com (Official site)
  • "Pat Boone: Duets - 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition" (Pat Boone's Gold Label); Available via Amazon and iTunes