Pat Boone

(b. 1934)

Clean-cut singer/actor Pat Boone had a lengthy run as a major recording star in the years prior to the British Invasion, scoring 38 Top 40 hits and becoming a familiar, wholesome presence in films and TV shows. Boone is notable figure in Rock and Roll’s early history for his smooth covers of then-current hits by such black artists as Little Richard and Fats Domino, which critics blasted as “watered down” versions aimed at listeners and radio stations for whom the originals were too musically — or racially — incendiary. While rocking out may not have been Boone’s forte, he was a skillful pop vocalist, as he demonstrated on a series of swoony hits ("Don't Forbid Me," "Love Letters in the Sand," "April Love," "Moody River") that were arguably better suited to his persona and abilities.

By the '70s, Boone was recording mostly Christian material, although he also had a few minor Country hits and recorded duets with his daughter Debby, who in 1977 scored a major solo hit with "You Light Up My Life." Boone was active mainly in Christian broadcasting and conservative politics in the 80s and 90s, but won mainstream media attention for his 1997 comeback bid In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, a jokey set of laid-back Heavy Metal covers that Boone promoted wearing leather and temporary tattoos. Among those who didn't get the joke were Boone's bosses at the Trinity Broadcasting Network, who fired him from his job as host of the network's Gospel America program (although he was eventually rehired). A longtime resident of Beverly Hills, Calif., Boone continues to perform and to make appearances as a motivational speaker.