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Pat Boone: I'm Too Busy To Retire

After more than 50 years in show business, Pat Boone has absolutely no plans to hang up his white bucks and retire.

"My wife is begging me to, for about, well, seven or eight years now," Boone told The Showbuzz, from Branson, Mo. where he was Grand Marshall of the Veterans Day parade. "The ability to initiate things and, of course, the offers keep coming in and it's hard to turn them down if all your life as a professional you responded to good offers. So it's hard to turn down a state fair tour each year and a Christmas tour since I'm one of the few who still does that."

The 72-year-old singer got his start as a 1950s teen idol, crooning ballads like "April Love" and "Love Letters In The Sand" and selling more records than anyone else in that decade except Elvis Presley.

In the 1960s and 70s, Boone's clean-cut, conservative image became the antithesis of hipness. As his style of music fell out of favor, Boone found success in country and gospel music instead of pop.

In 1997, Boone famously made an attempt to turn his image on its head with the heavy metal album "In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy."

His appearance in leather biker gear on that year's American Music Awards freaked out many in his conservative Christian fan base. The album didn't win him any heavy metal fans, either.

But Boone won back his gospel music audience, and a few years later was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

In November, Boone released "Pat Boone's America: 50 Years," a 150-page coffee table book with 200 pictures spanning a half-century in show business.

Looking back over the past five decades, Boone said that it was actually his work as a film actor that provided his most memorable career highlight.

"I think perhaps (it was) the world premiere of 'Journey to the Center of the Earth,'" he said. "At that point 'Cleopatra' was about to sink the studio, they were in such deep debt because of (Richard) Burton and (Elizabeth) Taylor and their highly publicized romance delaying filming."

Although the studio still had a lot of financial trouble ahead, Boone said the success of the film helped stave off foreclosure for a little while.

"It really proved to people I was something of an actor," added Boone. "I played a young Scottish lad, Alexander McEwan, with a Scottish accent and I wasn't just a singer kid from Nashville. There've been command performances with queens and presidents, but that's what pops into my head."

Throughout his career, Boone has been guided by his beliefs as a devout Christian, turning down roles that weren't in line with his values.

He is deeply patriotic and expresses his views in his weekly column for conservative Web site, World Net Daily. In the column, he's defended Mel Gibson after the actor's anti-Semitic tirade this summer, criticized the Dixie Chicks for being unpatriotic, and lashed out at the ACLU.

Boone's latest project started with "For My Country," a patriotic song he wrote about the National Guard. He filmed a music video for the song, featuring the aptly-named trio Valor and directed by Darren Thomas.

At Thomas' suggestion, Boone produced a documentary about the National Guard that accompanies the song and music video on the "For My Country" DVD, which was released on Veterans Day.

"The National Guard dates back to colonial days," Boone said. "They don't just fight our wars; they're there for civil defense as well."

He's hoping the song will have the same success that "Ballad Of The Green Berets" did in 1966. At a time where many musicians were writing songs of protest against the Vietnam War, Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's song was the No. 1 single in the country for six weeks.

Boone says he will send "the song to every station in America and the video to every video channel." A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the DVD is earmarked for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

In addition to "For My Country," Boone recently released an R&B album with new versions of classic songs with the original performers including James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang.

"It's a whale of an album," said Boone, "but it's kept me extremely busy."
By Judy Faber

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