From Elvis Presley to Speedy Gonzales, from Ronald Reagan to cancel culture: the world’s longest interview with 1950s superstar Pat Boone

Pat Boone, I'm in Love with You, from Pat Boone's private collection and archives © to the owners

I’m in Love with You by Pat Boone

This is not for starters. If you don’t have around three days to finish reading this, do not even commence. Either way, your three days will make just about 10% of the time it took me to prepare, run, transcribe and complete this interview. And it’s all time well spent getting to learn more about this extremely interesting and absolutely inspiring Tennessean artist by the name of Pat Boone – somebody who made the history of American rock ‘n’ roll ever since the early 1950s.

This is a very long article discussing very extended and complex topics, reconstructing memories from a past that started even before The Beatles came into play. If I was to sell this article to some paper and be paid by the word at a standard rate, I wouldn’t actually get a penny because I would have ninety per cent of the article censored.
Guaranteed.

Pat Boone from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone in the 1960s © to the owners

They’d probably only keep the part when Pat speaks about the Fab Four, but they would still cancel my question about the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory, because it always starts as a joke and then it ends up in a minefield that nobody really has the intention to explore.
Princess Diana took action against minefields, and look how she ended up.

The reason this interview would be heavily edited elsewhere it’s because it contains some very extreme content. Yes. Topics of discussions here range from the Bible and the concept of God up to the decadence the Western world has fallen into. And if you don’t think these topics are extreme at all, hold off, because we are also going to present your next public enemy here, a notoriously hostile and threatening individual, a dangerous character that must be kept away from children.

Speedy Gonzales film 1955 © to the owners

Speedy Gonzales, 1955 © to the owners

Yes. You got it right. I’m talking about Speedy Gonzales, The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico.
Yes, the adorable vintage cartoon mouse created by Warner Bros that we used to watch when the kids were still allowed to be kids and not the indoctrinated little monsters they are today. Yes, there had been toys, dolls and figurines of Speedy Gonzales ever since the 1950s, and he also appeared on your collectable Nutella glassware alongside Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner for decades – he was cool, he was entertaining and he was everywhere.
All gone.

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone single cover

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

Mr Boone never hid the fact that he is Republican, Christian and conservative – which, in theory, is something the Democrats should respect for the very fact that they call themselves democratic, and so, right after Joe Biden was elected President of the US, an op-ed published in a famous American newspaper proclaimed to the masses that Pat Boone’s 1962 tune Speedy Gonzales is offensive and conveys stereotypes against the Mexicans. In the same appalling article, it is said that, in his pursuit of a female black cat, the funny cartoon skunk Pepé Le Pew “normalised rape culture”.

Pepé Le Pew © to the owners

Pepé Le Pew © to the owners

A quick flashback out of context about the kind of behaviour you can expect from that newspaper: back in 2010, the outlet in question published WikiLeaks documents about war crimes and corruption simultaneously with other four major media groups. Profits for that year increased to $234 million, more than triple the $74 million they reported in 2009, and the paper even won the 2011 Payne Awards for Ethics in Journalism in recognition of its WikiLeaks coverage. Now that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing extradition and 175 years in prison in the US and – according to Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard this is because of “political motivation“, you can easily find out with a single click into the paper’s internal search engine how many publicly available articles about Assange they have written since he lost his freedom: It’s less than one a year since the persecution began in 2012, whilst the further developments about the case may fill an entire encyclopedia.
For the records, the other four media outlets that took advantage of WikiLeaks’ findings twelve years ago are not screaming their heads off to raise awareness about the case either, but this is exactly what newspapers are like, and that’s another story.

Speedy Gonzales Pat Boone criticism comment defendingIf you surf the net looking for criticism against Speedy Gonzales, all you’ll get is actually a flood of comments, mainly from Latinos, calling this cancel culture ridiculous and defending the faster mouse in all Mexico. Pat Boone himself reacted by telling Fox News: “Hey, how stupid must you be to think a cartoon mouse is a bad influence? Is Mickey an insult to other rodents? Goofy to slow dogs? The Road Runner to Wile (Coyotes)? Elmer Fudd to hunters? Let’s be truly concerned about jobless people, hungry children, maimed veterans and war widows… and leave the few harmless things we can still laugh about alone; let grandma and the three little pigs win once in a while – c’mon!” He also confirmed that Speedy Gonzales is still a favourite of his Hispanic fans, and that he gets asked to perform it each and every time he goes to South America.

But you know what? As a citizen of Italy, it is, therefore, my undeniable right to feel offended by The Godfather because it conveys stereotypes against the Italians. And how about Ratatouille, the cartoon? Full of baguettes and stereotypes against the French. And what about Puss in Boots? The sexy voice of Antonio Banderas dubbing the cat is a clear stereotype against the Spanish. And don’t you think that the character of Mr Bean portrays the Brits as mentally retarded and should therefore disappear from the screens? Not to mention Mr Bean’s teddy bear. Let’s talk about it. Why is it brown? What did they really mean by that? Did they mean that dark-coloured teddy bears can easily be abused as opposed to their pale stuffed equivalents?

Why don’t we call a socially-distanced worldwide forum about it all that would start with some rumination about climate change and terminate with a list of what else we can destroy from our culture and history, so to distract people from the fact that governments all around the world are tearing apart human rights and civil liberties in the name of a virus?

Pat Boone bienvenido in Mexico early 1960s, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone in Mexico, 1960s © to the owners

I expect just anything from our so-called “artists” these days after Jon Bon Jovi reportedly dismissed his own 1994 masterpiece Always as “a sick little twisted lyric… so many people feel it’s so romantic and so wonderful, but truthfully, this guy is practically a stalker. He’s a sick human being” – but it is indeed offensive that an industry authority like Pat Boone, after having been around for nearly seven decades (yeah, you heard it right – he spent almost 70 years making music, and he’s still active), is now expected to prove himself and apologise for singing a tune about a cartoon character.

How about questioning him on the history of American rock ‘n’ roll, instead? How about mentioning that he holds a world record for having had at least one single in the US charts for 220 consecutive weeks?

Pat Boone in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park 1989, from Pat Boone's private collection and archives © to the owners

Pat Boone at the Walt Disney World theme park 1989 – © to the owners

Pat Boone got 6 number one hits in America out of 25 singles that all reached the top 20 of the US singles charts, starred in 27 films, had a television show in the 1950s, released 73 studio albums and 68 compilations, shared the stage with Elvis Presley, came up with an idea to make money out of The Beatles in America, gave Speedy Gonzales a voice and raised four beautiful daughters whilst in his early twenties.

He is still the most recorded single artist in history; Frank Sinatra recorded 1500 lyrics, Bing Crosby made 2000 tunes and Pat Boone has recorded more than 2300 separate songs across 7 genres of music. In 2020, he made a record called Can’t We Get Along, a song he wrote in 1992 when the Los Angeles riots erupted and that was repurposed in 2021 by the runner-up of The Voice in the US, Wendy Moten.

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

His most recent single is a touching male version of Enya’s Only Time released in late 2021, and he is also involved in a plethora of other activities, including starring in an upcoming biopic film about President Ronald Reagan who was a close friend of his. He is also doing a podcast called The Pat Boone Hour on SiriusXM ‘50 Gold, he is hosting the auction event for the Talisman of Napoleon, an object of art once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte which was discovered close to Waterloo in 1938, with the bidding starting at 21 million dollars.
This gentleman is also a proud descendant of the American pioneer and frontiersman Daniel Boone, who became famous in the 1700s for his exploration of what is now Kentucky and about whom Lord Byron wrote the epic poem Don Juan in 1822.

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

In the world’s longest interview with Pat Boone, we’re going to discuss all that, and possibly more. Pat Boone is really into Biblical studies, he has strong beliefs and opinions that will sound old-fashioned and strict to many, but the integrity and trustworthiness behind his point of view about a range of things spanning from education to rap music, from politics to current affairs deserve to be respected, whatever opinion you may hold about these things.

Damn, I didn’t mean to sound democratic here, but if the meaning of the word as “someone supporting democracy or its principles” hasn’t been cancelled from the dictionary yet, then apparently it is what I am – as long as it doesn’t come with the first capital letter, which is something to watch out after capitalising has suddenly become a communist thing.
Yes, the pun is intended, but no, it won’t make anyone laugh.

Pat Boone and Speedy Gonzales, original picture from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone and Speedy Gonzales by The Shortlisted © [original picture © to the owners]

What an honour, Pat. I love your songs.

You’re too young.

Pat Boone at a Savvy Chic Event from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone at a Savvy Chic Event © to the owners

I love old stuff. Old songs, old movies, old telephones.

Well, that speaks well of your intelligence because that means that you’re not just caught up totally in whatever the current trend is – which most of the current trend I find to be really reprehensible anyway. I mean, it’s just garbage, just garbage. Yeah, there’s still good stuff, but most of it’s garbage.

This is actually quite an accurate description of what’s going on. By the way, why are you called Pat when your real name is Charles Eugene?

Pat Boone and Shirley Boone, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat and his late wife Shirley © to the owners

You’re right, you’ve done some homework. My parents expected a girl, I was the first and there was no amniocentesis, and they’d already named her Patricia. So when I was born, on closer inspection, they realised “Wait a minute, this is not a girl”- as it was noticeable, and so they named me after my two grandfathers Charles and Eugene, and they kept calling me Pat anyway. My wife [Shirley Boone passed away in 2019] looked up at the meanings of words in names and she found out that my last name Boone originally did not have an E on the end of it. And Boon without an E on the end is an Anglo-Saxon word for blessing: “The king granted a boon to the subjects…” And so my full name Charles Eugene Boone means wellborn man of blessing. But I’ve always been called Pat anyway. And I always have to explain it, and on my birth certificate there was Charles Eugene Boone but it causes problems with security at airports and I so have to write Charles Eugene parenthesis: Pat, you know, to put Pat in there, too. So that’s the explanation. My parents expected a girl. And I turned out to be a boy. So they named me Pat!

Let’s talk about Speedy Gonzales. 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the song.

Does it? I’ve lost track of the actual count even, but I know that I did Speedy Gonzales in the late 1950s. I think maybe it’s the early 1960s.

The release date seems to be 1962.

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

Speedy Gonzales by Pat Boone

That must be. Yeah. Because I’ll tell you why it’s confusing to me. I had 41 chart records in the 1950s – people today have no idea. I had an 11-month headstart on Elvis, a six-month headstart as far as age is concerned as I’m six months older. My career began in the March of 1955, with my first record, which was a million-seller, Two Hearts, Two Kisses, and the next was in May of that year, titled Ain’t That A Shame. That’s Fat Domino’s R&B hit; his was a number one hit and sold 150,000 copies, which was huge in the rhythm and blues market. I recorded it and we called it rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, mine was a rockier version than his… he was a roll and mine was rock! Then there were three or four more records until January 1956 and then, when Elvis Presley hit with Heartbreak Hotel in February 1956, I already had 6 million-selling singles by then over that 11-month period. So, people today have no recall at all and no awareness that Elvis and I matched each other hit after hit for the rest of the 1950s. I had 41 chart records and he 40, but then again, I had an 11-month headstart on him. We were two friendly rival Tennessee boys, and of course, that continued until he passed but in the 1960s, I had I think 23 chart records more than anybody but The Beatles so anyway, it was an incredible beginning, but of course it was so long ago that even I don’t remember!

How do you feel about Speedy Gonzales? 

a Speedy Gonzales figurine, 2012

Speedy Gonzales, 2012 figurine

Yeah, it is such a captivating, fun, rhythmic memorable song! I was in the Philippines, I was appearing at the Araneta Coliseum, I think I performed 10 shows for 240,000 people in total, in eight days, and one night I had a late-night respite and I went with somebody to a nightclub, like a little supper club where other entertainers hung out after their gigs. And there this guy got up and sang this song Speedy Gonzales, and I said “What is that?!” They said, “It’s an American artist, David Dante on RCA, is that a hit in America, is that number one?” And I was like no, we don’t know anything about it. Well, it was so captivating that I had him sing it twice, and then I had to get up and sing some of mine as well, but I brought the CD home – well, it wasn’t a CD, it was a 45 RPM record and I eventually got Randy [Wood, the record producer] to let me record it about a year later. And as soon as Speedy Gonzales hit the charts, it went to number one quicker than any record I’ve ever had. And it’s just so contagious. Elton John confessed to me that he borrowed the la la la la la la la la la for his Crocodile Rock practice. He confessed, he looked at me sheepishly and he said “I thought I was afraid you were gonna sue me”, and I was like “Really? What a compliment! You took on something from one of my records!” So yeah, Crocodile Rock and Speedy Gonzales are related!

Speedy Gonzales was recently made the target of some – in my opinion – ridiculous criticism, and I know that you already stepped out to defend the character and the song. How far do you think they’re going to take this cancel culture? And what the long-term effects of this are likely to be?

a Speedy Gonzales figurine, 1967

¡Arriba Arriba!

a Speedy Gonzales figurine, 1967

¡Andele!

They’ll take it as long as decent-minded people let it happen. A long ago, I read a book called You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists) [by Frederick Charles Schwarz] and to do what they say and exactly what they’re gonna do: they’re gonna first take over education of the young, which is happening now in America. They’re changing all of our history books, they’re tearing down the monuments to our foundations and the creators of our nation.

Speedy Gonzales Nutella glass 1999 © to the owners

Speedy Gonzales, 1996 Nutella glass

They’re making it very hard to ever quote the Bible in any way because they call it hate speech, because it contradicts the culture that they’re committed to. These people, some unwittingly, are committed to this because they make it sound appealing. But it is corrupted, I call it demonic. The United States Declaration of Independence says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, so we know that our freedoms and liberties and the rights that we have as human beings come not from the government, they come from our Creator. But these people are absolutely committed to taking away all considerations of God, or what we think of as morality, in terms of equality: everybody the same, and big governments that will tell you what you can have and what you can do and what you can’t do. One of our founders and President, Thomas Jefferson, said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have”. And that’s what we’re facing. So you ask the question “what’s going to cause it to cease?” Only right-minded, sensible, rational people standing up and saying “Enough, we’re not going to take this anymore, we’re going to go back to rock-solid, foundational principles of humanity, and divinity as well”.

How do you think this is going to end up?

Speedy Gonzalez at the Celebration Parade at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Ventura, California, by Brokensphere Licence CC BY SA 3.0 ©

Speedy Gonzalez at the Celebration Parade at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Ventura, California, by Brokensphere ©

Well, look, I’m a Bible person, and I believe the Bible. And I believe God was able to give us the Bible that came through several translations, and there are many translations of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. But it predicts in no uncertain terms, the end of that time and the end of civilisation as we know it. It’s called the Day of Judgment. And there is a battle coming over literally Israel. And it’s the enemies described in the Old Testaments as Gog and Magog, which have been identified by some as China and Russia. Well, guess what, China and Russia are forming a much stronger alliance right now, and especially as it pertains to Israel and in the Middle East. And the time is coming, when, and probably in our day and not long from now, it’s been prophesied by current Jewish prophets, and by American people with some prophetic gifts that the time is drawing very near. And the signs are the things that are happening right now, the destruction of everything that holds up morality, that holds up real rights and promotes government as the sole authority and people having to submit to this benevolent government that will give you everything, and this is happening. But little Speedy Gonzales Pat Boone criticism comment defendingIsrael is a thorn in the side in the Middle East, and so the prediction in the Bible is that China and Russia will combine in a mighty army, at one point of 200 million soldiers and will decide to wipe out little Israel. And at that point, the Almighty God will have had enough, And there will be something called Armageddon. Armageddon is when the whole vast army coming against Israel would perish and be wiped out, that vast army will be obliterated by fire from heaven, earthquake from below, it will take seven years to clean up the mess, after which the evils that have been taking over the world will be vanquished. And there the Bible seems to indicate that there will be a re-instituting of a sort of God’s plan, the original plan for mankind, which we have managed to mess up so badly that it is not recognisable now. Abortion, for example, is now accepted even in Israel. And here in America, on the altar of expediency, we have permitted and endorsed and called it the right of women to slaughter on the altar of expediency 65 Speedy Gonzales Pat Boone criticism comment defendingmillion babies, and most of these could have been prevented because the people creating these babies knew what they were doing. In some cases, rape or incest, that’s a different matter, and if it’s forced on a woman, of course, that woman I think has a right to do something about that, and in some cases that means destroying the life – otherwise, if women don’t want babies, just don’t let it happen. I don’t know how God has managed to hold off this long, over 60 million babies. And now it’s celebrated as a right, and we’re going before our Supreme Court not to permit abortion after the child is about four months along, when his heart’s beating, he has distinguishable features and everything, and it’s actually where babies have survived after that point. And we’re trying to get the law passed that you cannot abort that child, but there are all kinds of opposition. They’re celebrating it as freedom and, I mean, I don’t talk about this much, of course, because here I am in the middle of Hollywood that celebrates it all.

The challenge is probably enforcing the law on abortion without promoting the culture of abortion.

Pat Boone and daughters, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone and daughters © to the owners

But you know, there’s still a lot of good in the world. And there are a lot of innocent good people. But we’re being swept along by the forces that are really anti-God, anti-morality, anti-sanity – I mean, when you have men with moustaches and beards, competing with women in women’s sports by claiming they’re women and going into the women’s locker rooms, even in schools – and pity the poor girls that happen to be in there when these guys professing to be girls come in and rape them. I mean, this is happening. And it’s a sign of the times of, of our losing our way, morally. You know, I’m a father of four daughters and was married to a wonderful woman for 67 years, and we lived in this house in Beverly Hills for over 60 years, and it was an all-girl house. Even our animals always seem to be female. And so I adapted and I came to really treasure femininity. I was a pretty watchful, if not strict, dad – all four of my girls lived here at home until they were married at 21, 22 and 23. Debby, who had a huge record, You Light Up My Life [Debby Boone is the only daughter of Pat Boone to have become a singer], was living at home. And I had told him, I would pay for any Christian college that would admit them, so they could get a college education in a Christian environment as long as they could be home for dinner. They weren’t going to go away to some other school somewhere at 17 or 18, live in a coed dorm and suffer the consequences of all that? No, no. And so they thought dad was pretty over-strict, I guess, but we always had conversations, I explained it all and they understood. Well, now we have 16 grandkids and 13 great-grandkids, and we’re still a very close family. And this is the way we’ve lived right in the middle of Hollywood, in Beverly Hills and, and in the entertainment business, and I’m still performing and still doing what I’ve always done. But I’m a Bible guy. And these are the rules of my life.

What achievements are you most proud of, at this stage in your career?

Pat Boone graduation at Columbia University 1958, from Pat Boone's private collection and archives © to the owners

Pat Boone’s graduation, Columbia University 1958 © to the owners

Well, obviously, my family, because that is an achievement that occurred in the middle of, and in some ways as a result of my career. We had four daughters, who are only less than four years apart, all born separately, by the time we were 23, and I graduated from college at 23 with four children, four little girls. From 1957 to 1960, I had a big television show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and I was the youngest guy ever to have his own musical variety show with the great singers coming on as my guests every week, and in the summertime, I was making movies as a break from TV, and then I was taking my courses at Columbia University in New York where I graduated Magna cum Laude in 1958, and I was on the cover of TV Guide with my cap and gown, and there’s a picture of my wife and my four little girls I should have been perhaps… neutered, or fined, or something, for inflicting this on my wife, but she was a perfectly willing accomplice to have four children in less than four years.

Pat Boone, Shirley Boone and daughters, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

The Boone Family in the 1960s © to the owners

But then we raised those girls right here in the middle of Hollywood, right in Beverly Hills, subject to all the temptation, and not one of them ever smoked pot. None of them ever went into all the things that all their friends were getting involved into, and so to preserve that, as they were all becoming teenagers, I created The Pat Boone Family Show with my wife and my four daughters joining me on stage. And no other pop ever did this, to bring his family into his shows as his live stage performing act. Singing together they became a singing group as good as any singing girls group you can imagine, and they stayed here at home until they were married. So that to me, is my greatest accomplishment.

You must also be proud of having recorded as many as 2300 songs.

The Pat Boone Family Act, Pat Boone's wife and daughters, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

The Pat Boone Family Act © to the owners

Of course, I’m proud of my 2300 songs and the record I hold in the record business of being in the charts for 220 consecutive weeks. I think the closest to that is Elton John with 157 weeks. But you may say things like “How about Mariah Carey? How about all these other artists that seem to always be on the charts?” Well, not always. Because on the single charts, in most cases, a big record stays on the charts as long as it’s still selling, and when it pops off the chart, you come with the next record. But we didn’t do that, and so when my record dropped from number 7 to number 10, out came the next record, and if it dropped from number 32 to 40, it outpaced the next record. So for 220 consecutive weeks, I always had at least one and sometimes two – usually two – records on the charts, one going up and the other going down. And it maintained that momentum, but that was not intentional. We only knew that it had happened years later. We were doing it and it was when we finally saw the record, we realised that it was a record and that maybe somebody will surpass it, somebody will be so popular for so long, and so continually that will be on the single charts for more than 220 weeks. But right now, I’m very proud of it.

And you are very popular on Spotify, too.

I have, at this point, some 600,000 people calling into Spotify every month to listen to some of my early hits. And now we’re, Spotify is willing to let me put all 2300 songs that I’ve recorded on the platform. Frank Sinatra recorded some 1500 songs, and Bing Crosby, who was my role model, some 2000 songs, but I have recorded 2300 songs in many genres. And the reason I want them on Spotify is because, yes, I love the hit records like Speedy Gonzales, Love Letters In The Sand, April Love and all those other great songs – but many of the songs that I like even better with beautiful orchestras, singers and the best singing I could ever do – and there are several 1000s of them, but they are in albums. So, unless you bought the albums, you don’t know that I ever recorded those songs. But if they’re on Spotify, and you start sneaking through, and you pick out the songs, like your favourite songs of all time, you can say “Hey, Pat Boone recorded this, let me hear his version”. And then we find that they like it as well as any other version that they’ve heard. And so 2300 songs, and I’ve just recorded three more recently added to the mix. And I’m not through yet!

Which one of your songs are you most attached to?

Pat Boone and Shirley Jones in April Love

Pat Boone and Shirley Jones in April Love

Well, of course, I love April Love, which became my theme song was the title of my second movie. A couple of Academy Award writers, Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Fain, wrote this song about innocent sweet young love, and April Love is a movie I made with Shirley Jones, it was my second movie. And when these Academy Award writers sat down to play this beautiful song, when they finished playing I said “Fellas, this is beautiful. I am flattered that you would write this for me. But you know, right now it’s rock and roll time, and this is just a lovely ballad. I’m not sure that it can be a hit unless we can do something that makes it seem a little more exciting in the arrangement”. And they said, “Like what?” And I said, “I don’t know, maybe bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, you know – an intro that makes it sound like something exciting is about to have April Love!” They said they could do that, which is what we did in the movie and record. Connie Francis borrowed that bop bop bop bop later for her Where The Boys Are, just like Elton John borrowed Speedy Gonzales’ la la la la la la. I came up with some things that other people have imitated, but April Love not only was a number one huge hit, but my wife’s birthday is April 24. And so that was also not just my theme song for my performances that I hope to be remembered for, but it’s also a tribute to my own living April Love, my wife Shirley.

Do you remember the first time you heard one of your songs playing on the radio?

I use a Hebrew word for that, which is melt, and means listen and repeat! The first time it happened to me it was during my second record Ain’t That a Shame. The first record had been Two Hearts, Two Kisses, it was in the top 10 and sold over a million records but didn’t go to number one. And because Two Heart, Two Kisses had just been recorded by Frank Sinatra and Doris Day, and by two groups called The DeCastro Sisters and The Lancers, and I was still in college, and because I was a newcomer, I was the only unknown in the group, and I was 20, the head of the company sent me on a tour of 20 cities in 18 days to promote the record at TV stations, radio stations and department stores where the record buyers were buying a lot of records. I mean, 20 cities in 18 days. And we just had our first child and we were expecting our second already, we were in Denton, Texas, and I said “I can’t live this life, it is so demanding, it is so tiring”. But because Ain’t That a Shame became an instant hit as soon as it was released in May 1955, I knew I had to move to New York, so I took my wife and the kids and we moved. And I was going into a taxi across New York, it was late summer, in the night, and I saw a car full of teenagers waiting at a red light, and my taxi pulled up next to that car. They had the radio on, they were hearing my record Ain’t That a Shame, and they were just jumping up and down and singing a lot Oh, you made me cry when you said goodbye, and I melted, I quelled. I thought “Whoa, that’s what this record business is like!” I wanted to say: “Hey, kids, that’s me!”, But I didn’t. But the feeling of hearing these kids spontaneously so excited about something that I did in a studio is a feeling that I’ve never gotten enough of, really, I mean, that’s why I’m a recording fool. I keep recording all the time. I write songs now more than I used to, and the reason is that feeling of knowing that people are listening. Like now, some 600,000 people a month are tuning on Spotify to hear some of my early records: by their choice, they’re going to hear things that meant something to them in years gone by, or maybe they’re just discovering them. But they’re choosing to pick out one of my songs or more of my songs and listen to them now. I can’t describe that, I can’t describe that feeling. It’s more than an accomplishment. It’s approval. It’s validation. And even though a lot of people in my business think I’m something from another age because of the things I believe in and that are not popular, still – they have to admit that I must have done something right. And I’m still getting blessed for it!

Do you think there is a social responsibility for musicians today to address social and political issues?

Pat Boone with President Truman, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone with President Harry S. Truman © to the owners

Well, that’s a good question. That’s really a good question. Because I was my first answer would be that we all have a responsibility, every one of us. But if you have an undue influence on other people, and they’re likely to believe what you say, just because you say it, then that is an extra responsibility. If you’re going to speak out about political things, and support candidates and policies, then you’d better be thinking really seriously about what the end of those things that you’re promoting is. And what is the real character of the person that you’re promoting, is he gonna be better than the other candidate? You just don’t want to add your popularity to perhaps popularity of the wrong cause, or the wrong candidate, and you will have to bear some of the consequences for what happens as a result. So it’s a big responsibility if people in the public eye that are not considered politicians take political positions, which I have, but only if I’ve thought it through very carefully.

How do you decide who and what to support?

Pat Boone by Gage Skidmore Pat Boone speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 12, 2011 CC BY-SA 3.0. ©

Pat Boone in 2011 by Gage Skidmore ©

The way I try to judge everything is by asking myself if something is godly, if it is righteous. It doesn’t have to be Christian or Jewish, specifically, or even Muslim or Hindu, but it is righteous? Is it morally good for people? Will it promote humanity and equality and an acceptance of other people on an equal level? Suppose the things I have to take into consideration as a performer who has had some influence; I’ve helped some candidates get elected, ad I won’t say always, but at least a time or two, I was not proud that some of the candidates, even presidents that I had not known well enough to have been as supportive of their names, eventually turned out to be less in terms of character than I thought. And so I regretted supporting them. But God and the Bible points out that none of us is without failings, not one of us hasn’t already committed in our lives some things that we are sorry about. And that’s where he comes in because he can forgive us. I’ve just finished taking part in a movie called The Mulligan. In golf, the mulligan is a do-over, a second chance you ask for after your first has gone badly. And so you ask your partners “Can I have a mulligan?” And there are some spiritual applications to that in this movie, which comes out in the week after the Masters Gold Tournament in Spring. I think it’s going to be a big film. I play a retired ex-pro golfer. But so, yeah, all my long-winded answer is that if, as political entertainers, we have the right to speak out, we also have a great responsibility to have done more than just go along with the tide and say, “Hey, I like that because it’s popular”. We need to ask ourselves: what’s the character? What are their real policies? What will they do to this nation if they are elected and if they have power over us? And then if it’s bad, then we bear some of the responsibility and are sorry for some candidates that we have supported. Not any policies, though. I don’t remember any policies that I supported that I regret, because they were all grounded. The policies I support are all grounded in righteous principles. Godly biblical principles. Like not undue debt for one thing, and unpayable debt is a sin. But we’re doing all kinds of things that biblically are sins, and we’re promoting them as rights. And we’re going to pay the consequences. So I just say yes, you have a right to use your position, but bear in mind, you also will bear some of the consequences if it turns out to be you are choosing the wrong candidate or the wrong policy.

What do you think of the current state of music and cinema?

Pat Boone performing © to the owners

Pat Boone © to the owners

Well, like I told you in the beginning, it is pure, filthy garbage. I mean, I have to single out certain performers. But you know, we have this big thing, this big football game, the Super Bowl. And the halftime at Super Bowl is a major production, and major stars come and they perform, And I’ll just say that a famous female performer was asked to perform recently, two or three years ago and was going to do a pole dance wearing almost no clothes. And this is for millions and millions of people, and teenagers tuning in to watch this football game. And then on the shows, the awards, the Grammy Awards, they became so decadent. They look like riots. They did a couple of shows with rappers singing and burning a car on stage and celebrated it in music. And of course, I’m not going to say all these things because I know I’d be quoted about what I call rap and hip-hop.

Please be nasty. I don’t care for rap.

You know, beat me if I’d known, I don’t know the answer to that one!Well, there’s a lot of good in it and it is artistry. But sometimes I think it’s like Rembrandt doing graffiti on a bathroom wall. I mean, it’s Rembrandt doing it, but it’s not worthy of his art, it’s not really even being called art. It’s being done by artists, good musicians, good singers, but it’s stuff that’s highly unworthy of their talents and to be presented. Well, I don’t mind being quoted on this one, but several years ago, the Academy Awards couldn’t find anything better than a song called Hard Our There for a Pimp to be chosen as Best Movie Song of the Year [the song from the movie Hustle & Flow is from DJay featuring Shug and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006]. So they couldn’t find anything better to call the Song of the Year Hard Our There for a Pimp, about someone who is selling women’s bodies. I mean, how far and how deep into oblivion, we can dig if we don’t demand some kind of principles and some kinds of morality in art, there’s lots of stuff called art that are not worthy of being called art even though they were done by artists.

When you compare the 1960s to today in terms of music, what’s the single most evident difference you find?

Pat Boone in Main Attraction, 1962 from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

Pat Boone in Main Attraction, 1962 © to the owners

Rock and roll was so lively and musical. And like most trends, it started to cave in on itself. I mean, the music industry is very repetitive and imitative. And so things that stand out are something different. Groups like Coldplay are like no other group, and very hard to define, really. But when The Beatles came along, there was such a vibe, they were so vivacious, they were so spontaneous and so happy and so energetic. They weren’t copying anybody. Now they did. They did do their versions of rock and roll songs that they liked and that influenced them. Of course, The Beatles were borrowing from the R&B artists, they were picking up on their songs and some of their flavour, but with an energy that was so spontaneous, and it was not, it didn’t seem imitative. But then what happens in rock and roll, and in almost any other kind of music, and even other kinds of art, is that people start imitating what’s successful, and they start trying to make things that sound like what is successful. And meanwhile, after a while, the ones that were originally successful sound like they’re imitating themselves, it gets to have a sameness to it. But The Beatles, and I use them as an example, were constantly exploring other new things. Now this Disney special series [The Beatles: Get Back is a 2021 Disney documentary series] show them in their sessions, they were taped when they were creating the songs and they were collaborating, and each was coming up with ideas. And it was not imitating some other group. But you asked about the difference between music then and now – and now, it is sort of imploding on itself. Whatever has a breakthrough appeal, everybody else has to do things that sound like that and borrow from the success of this other thing that was maybe original when it first happened. I’m not condemning, but I’m just saying it’s the way it goes. And I’m glad that right now I’ve done my version of the terrific song by Enya, Only time.

I love your version of Only Time. How did you come up with that?

I love that record, I have loved it all these years [Only Time was first released by Enya in 2000], as millions have. But I got out the lyrics because I could never understand what she was saying in her lyric. And in her two videos that I’ve seen it’s just her walking in beautiful settings, and pictures of her lip-syncing and walking through, but it doesn’t tell you what the song is really about. But when I got the lyrics, I saw that it’s a four-part story. The first is about a love affair that is in progress… but will it last? Only time will tell. The next is like Oh-oh, things aren’t going well… what do you do when your heart lies, when your heart cries, when your love lies? And it breaks and it’s coming apart? What’s going to happen, only time will tell. Am I ever going to find the right one? Is it possible that I can find that one? Only time will tell but the last verse is Is this the one, can this be it? Only time can tell? Well, it’s a wonderful story. And I did my version of it with an arrangement by my great arranger Dave Diggs, it’s his daughter doing the la la la the parts that don’t have words. And you can understand the words as I sing them. Now you can hear the story, and I insisted on the instrumental thing, but I had to get to the arranger to get those bongs bongs bongs in there. I think it’s important. We’re not making karaoke. It is just a record that is obviously derivative from the original, but I think I’m making it better and that you can understand the storyline here and understand the words, and I’m the only male I know of to record that beautiful, beautiful song.

The videoclip is also very nice, with the old couple dancing.

These were my mom and dad who had done something on Barry White’s country song called That’s the Love I Want, Love That Lasts. And my mother had a video in which an older couple with other couples were dancing, and somehow my mom and dad got into that in their 80s, and they were dancing this slow dancing during the song, and then at the end of it, my mom takes my dad’s face in her hand and kisses him. And the story ends with love that did last; my mom and dad had a 70-year marriage. And so yes, I will borrow something from somebody else – a song or an idea, but then I’ll do it my way. And that’s at the end of my video of Enya song, Only Time.

What did you Enya say about it?

Well, I don’t know. I didn’t contact her. Once the song is out there, anybody can do it. If it goes well, she will get paid for it because she wrote the song and she published the song I’m sure. I hope she makes a million bucks because that will mean the record has made a million bucks! But yeah, I mean, I didn’t have to pay The Beatles or Elvis, when I recorded their songs. I did a whole album of Elvis’ great hits in my way, and he was very complimented by the way I did his songs.

So what is the biggest difference in the entertainment industry between yesterday and today?

Oh, well, I don’t recognise it. And I don’t want to be part of it.

You are part of it. You’re still very successful.

And I’m still entertaining, but I’m not part of any of the big celebrations. I’m not in any of the award shows. In fact, Elvis and I didn’t get a Grammy in those times because we preceded the Grammys. I mean, Elvis and I, and our big hits, were all before the Grammys started in 1959 he and so well, we had Grammys, but they were not on TV. And when the Grammys first began, I had recorded a song By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and the late Glen Campbell played rhythm guitar on my record, and then he recorded his own version too. His record was given the Grammy for the best male vocal performance, and I was presenting it! It wasn’t on TV yet, I don’t think it was even broadcast, it was just a live event in an auditorium at dinner, and I was giving the award for the best male vocal performance… I opened the envelope and it was to Glen Campbell for By the Time I Get to Phoenix. And while he was coming to the stage to get his Grammy, I said that he also played the guitar on my record of that song. But by the time I was on Dot Records, which was now losing its influence in the business, and he was on Capitol Records, and Dot Records was on dark by the time my record of By the Time I Get to Phoenix became a hit. And because Capitol was much more aggressive in promoting his record, then that was, although I had made a good record too. I’m just saying that because it’s a picture of what it was like back then. Elvis didn’t get Grammys back then because they weren’t Grammys being given until most of us had done most of the big hits during his lifetime. He eventually got a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971 for his gospel recording. He recorded several gospel albums in the last part of his life. [Elvis Presley also won three Grammys out of 14 total nominations, all for gospel recording]

How did you first meet Elvis Presley? What was he like?

Elvis Presley and Pat Boone on TV Parade

Elvis Presley & Pat Boone on TV Parade in 1956

I don’t know if I told you that when Elvis and I first met, he was my opening act. It was October of 1955, in Cleveland. Nobody knew who he was, they only knew who I was because I’d had three records that year that were million sellers. So I was the headliner, and the sock hop DJ Bill Randle brought Elvis in. Because his manager Colonel Tom Parker had just bought his contract from Sun Records to release him on RCA Victor, Elvis had only made one record at the time, which was a bluegrass country song called Blue Moon of Kentucky, which he did in what we call a rockabilly style but had not caught on yet, so the kids didn’t know who he was. So I met him backstage when he came in from Shreveport, Louisiana, to be on this sock hop, and to lip-sync his record, and I said “Hi Elvis, I’m Pat Boone!”. And he said “Nice to meet you”, and I said, “Bill Randle says he thinks maybe some big things may be ahead of it”, and he said, “I don’t know, but I hope so”. And he leaned back against the wall, and his buddies, his guitar player and bass player, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, sort of closed in around him. And I could tell he was shy and maybe scared, you know because he was going to face about 600 kids who didn’t know who he was.

What happened that night?

Elvis Presley and Pat Boone, Rockin' Rivals by Passport International ©

Elvis Presley and Pat Boone, Rockin’ Rivals by Passport International ©

And so Bill Randle introduced him, and he came out and did his song Blue Moon of Kentucky in his way, which was not rock and roll back then. He was wiggling around the stage strumming his guitar. And the audience liked him, but they didn’t know who he was And then he did his rhythm and blues thing which worked out well and sold to the audience, and then they wanted more but it was all he had, so he left. And then I was introduced, and because I was currently the teen idol at the moment, I got all the screams from the girls and l lip-synced my three records, and when I came off, he was gone.

And years later, you became friends.

Yes. About two-and-a-half years later, we were both renting homes in Bel Air whilst making movies at 20th Century Fox, and we got reacquainted. And I said, “Elvis, that first time we met there in Cleveland that night, I was a bit worried. You seemed shy, it’s like you were nervous”. And he replied, “Well, I didn’t know how to talk to you, man, you were a star!”. And I was like “Me?! A star? I had been recording since March and it was just October!” And he was like “Yes, but you were on the charts and I didn’t know how to talk to you”. So he just showed what a nice young man from Memphis, Tennessee, he was. And I was trying to be a nice young man from Nashville, Tennessee. So we were Tennesseans and we were buddies of all years of his life, and we met for the last time at an airport in Memphis. He was on his way to Las Vegas, to the International Hilton for another month-long engagement, and I was on my way to Orlando with my wife and kids because we were now a family act and we were going to a big Tupperware convention. And I patted him on his stomach and I asked: “Do you carry the money with you here?”, and he said, “Oh, I’ve been eating too much off in Las Vegas”. That was the last month of his life. And then he said “Where are you going?”, and I was like “Orlando”, so he said I was going the wrong way. He turned to his buddy and said “He’s always going the wrong way”. He was just kidding. He repeated that I was always going the wrong way, and my last statement to him was “Well, Elvis, it depends on where you’re coming from”. That was the last thing we said. And a month later, he was gone. And here I am.

Have you got a favourite memory about your time with Elvis Presley you would like to share? 

A favourite memory about him? Well, oh, I’ll tell you what it was. There were many. But when he opened again at the International Hilton, and he hadn’t been performing live for two or three years as he was just making movies. And so, you know, everybody was curious about how it was going to be when he would be back on stage and perform live with a full orchestra, and singers and his gospel quartet. And I went over to Las Vegas to be there that night, and then he was phenomenal. And I went up to see him in the penthouse which had become where he was going to be staying for the month-long engagement, he took me back into the big walk-in closet, just he and I, so we could talk a minute alone, and he said: “I wish I could go to the church like you do”. And I said “You can, why don’t you?”, and he was like “Oh, I can’t do it, man, I make a big distraction, the kids want my autographs and I would be taking the attention away from the minister”. And I said, “Don’t you think it happens to me when I go to a church that is not where I’m normally going? I just tell the kids that want my autograph to wait outside after church”. But Elvis said “No, I can’t do that, I just think it’d be a big distraction and they’d be looking at me”, and I asked “Aren’t you used to people looking at you?! Let them see that you’re here for the same reason they are and they’ll leave you alone, and so when they’ll take your autographs to school the others would be like where did you get this? Elvis Presley, or Pat Boone, was at the church, so can we come? Let it be an outreach, you know?” But he said no, he was just socially uncomfortable. He said he would have liked to talk to Oral Roberts, a minister who was always on television, and I so said “Let me give you a clue. Your name is Elvis Presley. You get on a phone call with the Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you said your name and that you’d like to talk to Roberts, and in 40 seconds he’ll be on the phone!” But he was like “Oh no, I can’t do this”.

Did you make the call for him?

Yes, he was not comfortable making an approach to somebody else, so I called Oral Roberts and he flew out to Las Vegas and had a great session with him. And what Roberts told me later was: “This man is spiritually hungry. He grew up in churches just like you did, with his family, his parents. And he’s never in a church anymore, and he’s surrounded by guys who are leading him into all kinds of other Eastern types of religions and self-realisation and all these things. And there’s a curiosity in his search for spiritual moorings, but not what he’s familiar with. And he misses the Bible and the church songs”. That’s why he began to sing church songs in his shows, and why he recorded the albums that won him a posthumous Grammy. But yeah, you asked about the most memorable and precious moment, I think it was then when I could share something like that with Elvis and encourage him to stay on that serious spiritual search that he was on.

What was your relationship with The Beatles and the British Invasion?

Oh, wow, it was very good. In fact, I did business with the Beatles.

I heard that you purchased a licence from their manager Brian Epstein, you commissioned a painter to portrait The Beatles and you made money selling Beatles memorabilia in the States.

The Beatles 1964 portait by Leo Jansen commissioned by Pat Boone, from Pat Boone's private collection and archive © to the owners

The Beatles 1964 portrait by Leo Jansen © to the owners

Yes! You knew that?! Ah, The Beatles. Goodness. I first heard them when their record From Me To You came out in 1963. I love that song. I brought a copy of their record, and I wanted my record company to let me record it in the States, but it had already been released by them on another label, and it was not a hit at that point in the States because people didn’t know The Beatles and that record was not a hit when it was released here, so the head of my company said: “Look, it’s not a hit, why would you do it?” Well, eventually I did do it in an album of hits from the 60s. I did my version of that and I also did my version of Yesterday – but anyway, so when The Beatles came to this country, they were suddenly selling all the records, and every all of us other artists was scrambling to try to keep our record sales alive. And so I got in touch with Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager, and I said “I have an idea, I want to have a painter to paint beautiful oil paintings, single portraits of each of The Beatles and then a group portrait of all four, and I need a licence”. And he said “Hey, great idea”. And so I signed the contract and he gave me the right to do it and I had this painter painting these beautiful single solo portraits of each of the guys, and then a group portrait. And I sold those in Sears stores in the States, and I made more money selling Beatles’ pictures that year than from my own records!

Did you ever meet The Beatles?

I have pictures of John Lennon and Yoko – and I think also one of Paul wearing Pat Boone Fanclub buttons, as when they came to the States they wanted people to know that they were aware of what was happening in America, and thankfully, I was still very popular at that point, having my own hit records. And so they proudly wore Pat Boone Fanclub buttons! So yes, when they came to do their first shows in America, and they were at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, I and my family were on the front row. We actually brought 300 people from all over the countries to those first two concerts: when they bought a Beatles picture, there was a number tag, and their name and address was on it, and so we drew 300 names and we got in touch with the people and flew them to Las Vegas to The Beatles concert! So, some two or three hours before they did the show, I went back visiting the four guys, and my daughter Laurey sat on Ringo’s lap, my daughter Cherry was talking to John, and Linda was talking to… who was left out?

George Harrison?

Yes, George. And then, of course, I was talking to Paul. And he said, “You know, Brian, our manager, put out our names and faces on a lot of crap, but we like these pictures that you had painted, because, you know, they’re very flattering. We like them”. Well, when I went to Liverpool eventually for singing and concerts, I went to The Cavern Club, where they first made their first success, and those pictures that we had painted are on display. And yes, so we were friendly, I was in business with them. I’d like to say that we had more communication, but we didn’t. I liked Paul very much because he kept his marriage together, and family was very important to him. I guess maybe eventually so to George, and to John and Yoko. But you know, it was a turbulent life they were living and I knew what that was like. But I felt like that Paul and I had more in common maybe than I would have had with any of the others, though I had great admiration for all of them.

Have you heard of the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory

What?

Many people out there believe that the real Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced with an imposter by the name of Billy Shears Campbell.

It’s stupidity. Stupidity. He’s still proving his artistry by recording and by writing songs and performing.

They believe it’s not the same person. A lot of pictures and videos show that he looked taller after 1966, the voice seems louder and his face looks longer, George Harrison called him the new fella in The Beatles Anthology Series, Olivia Harrison was caught calling him Billy. And then, there is his strange reaction to John Lennon’s death and the fact that The Beatles quit touring after 1966 – and many other things, too. A lot of people all around the world believe this. 

Well, they should talk to Ringo. I mean, you can’t talk to John now, or George, of course, and if anybody knows who the real Paul McCartney is, it’s Ringo Starr. Yet a clue, what an idiotic idea that is. He’s proving it all the time. He’s doing interviews continually, you know? And he knows facts and figures that no imposter could possibly know.

While in the UK, you did two command performances for the Queen and the Royal Family. Anything to declare about that?

The Royal Family was always so good to me. When I did my first command performance, I was still in university and having rock and roll records, and I was asked to come to perform for the Queen, which I did. And I was warned that I could look up into the royal box when I was performing when I finished a song, and if the Queen kept her hands in her lap, then I wouldn’t expect big applause because the audience was also looking at her. But if they really applauded, and Princess Margaret and the others were enthusiastic about the performance, then I would get a big hand. I was instructed what do to when she came through, I wouldn’t have to extend my hand unless she offered hers. You would just bow your head and say “Your Majesty”. I remember Princess Margaret was very young. She was a fan. And the Queen Mother was very obliging and hospitable. And Prince Philip… I mean, the whole gang. Now, several years went by and I came back for another command performance. Now I was old and so I knew what to do, and I was a little blasé about it. There were Claudia Cardinale, Peter Finch and Peter Sellers, they were all nervous, and I was acting like I was not nervous. But as the Queen came down the road toward me, I started to get fluttery in the stomach, and I remembered ok, when she stands in front of me, I bow my head and I say “Your Majesty”. But as she extended her hand, she said “We met before”, and I responded “We did?” I mean, did she really remember?

She probably did. They all say she’s got the memory of an elephant. 

But I just said “We did?” to the Queen who said, “We met before”. What was that, really?! Imagine how embarrassing that was! And she seemed a little nervous after that, her face twitched a little bit. Then well, of course, there’s a picture of the Queen and me you could find in London newspapers that day in which she’s smiling at me. But I’m looking like this: stunned at what I had just said, that was not what I meant to say, and this came out. I meant to say “Do you remember that? I didn’t think you would remember that we met before”. But instead, it came out “We did?” I hope she’s still around, I hope she reads this article and she remembers that I was so terribly embarrassed. I had no way to apologise. I mean, I was pleasantly stunned that she did remember, and Princess Margaret as well. Anyway, that’s it!

In 1966, you also travelled to Italy to perform at the Sanremo Music Festival. What do you remember about that?

Pat Boone Sanremo Mai Mai Valentina Giorgio Gaber

Mai, Mai, Mai, Valentina by Pat Boone and Giorgio Gaber

I was a fool to do that. My manager let me go there to sing three new Italian songs in Italian and competing with the Italians, with an estimated 100 million people seeing it live. I was a fool to do that. It went well because one of my three songs, a song called Mai, Mai, Mai, Valentina became a big hit that year. I think the other song was Volare, but I’m not sure my recollection is right, and I remember Quando Quando Quando by Tony Renis. He let me write the English lyric of the song, and he was very happy when I did a literal translation but adding up a little bit of my own to it. Engelbert Humperdinck, Michael Bublé and so many others have recorded the song and they’re recording the English lyrics that I wrote, and I’m very proud of my own recording, but it was not the hit recording. But I bet if you go to Spotify, hopefully, you’ll hear my record of Quando Quando Quando! Anyway, the Sanremo Music Festival was very good but it was also so nerve-wracking though, because the writers wanted me to do their songs well because of the competition, and I had tried to learn these three Italian songs, but we were about an hour before the show went live and I was trying to remember but I didn’t know what all the words mean. They’re good songs and I knew basically what they were saying, but I didn’t know the meaning of the individual words. So I was trying, but I had them written out and then I said, “Where’s the teleprompter?”, and they were like “Well, there’s no teleprompter”. And then I was like “No teleprompter? I need the words on the teleprompter. I need to have them. Because that’s Italian. I have to know that there’s no teleprompter! Well, are there cue cards? Can I have cue cards? At least?” But they said, “No, no cue cards”.

Sounds like a typical Italian mess.

And so I had to try to write some of the words that I knew I was going to have a lot of trouble remembering on my hand. But I was so nervous that my hand sweated and it just took a bunch of black ink on my hand.

Oh, no. 

Yeah, and so I did the best I could. It would have been a lot more fun if I’d had the words out there where I could read them. But I had to do the best I could to remember their words in a language I don’t speak and I’m sure that the writers of the songs that I sang were not happy with me. It was a terrifying experience because of having no cue cards or teleprompter.

Welcome to Italy, Sir. 🤦‍♀️🍝

I still have a favourite memory from that trip, and it’s when I went from there to Modena to buy a Ferrari called Superamerica Sports Car and have it shipped home. A fantastic car. And so I called to make an appointment to be there in Modena to take possession of the car so, for tax reasons, it would have come to America as a used car that I took possession of up in Italy. Enzo Ferrari himself was going to be there, so he invited me to have lunch with him, so I had lunch with Enzo Ferrari in the upper room where all the designs of future models were being laid out there and they were designing future Ferraris.

That is cool, wow!

And so he said, “Do you have children?” And I said, “Yes, I’ve got four daughters”. And he replied: “Oh, so you don’t want a Superamerica, you want a Ferrari 2+2 with four doors”. And I said “No, Mr Ferrari, this is not for my daughters, this is for me, I want a Superamerica Sports Car”, but he was like “No, no. I take you for the drive”. So Enzo Ferrari took me for a drive in this new model, 4-door Ferrari 2+2, saying “This is what you want for your children”, and so I eventually bought a car I didn’t want! I bought the 4-door Ferrari 2+2. I never bought the Superamerica!

Hahaha!

The ex-Pat Boone 1966 FERRARI 330GT SERIES II 2+2

The ex-Pat Boone 1966 Ferrari 330GT series II 2+2

Well, now I got it. Picked it up in San Francisco with my wife, we took a train to San Francisco and then drove it down the Pacific Coast Highway in a Superamerica!  The 2+2 had air horns that played April Love: if you press the button, it would play April Love in the air horns and well, that was fun for a while, but it was still a 4-door car and it looked like, I think, a Chevrolet Corvette, it didn’t look like a Ferrari, and I sold my Ferrari that I didn’t like to Tommy Smothers of the comedic duo Smothers Brothers. So the car may not be in this house, but for me, for car aficionados, to know that Pat Boone took a test drive with Enzo Ferrari himself driving the car, then you’ll understand why I bought a car I didn’t want! I’m doing a podcast coming up soon, and we’ve done several additions and will soon show these pictures, but we found a picture on the internet of Enzo Ferrari showing me the Superamerica and demonstrating there was no room for my four daughters!

This is a great story.

That’s a great memory from that time when I was at the Sanremo Music Festival, but all of my performances through Italy and throughout Europe, Scandinavia, all of them were so enjoyable. I mean, for me to be received like that everywhere I went to foreign countries… I even was in front of Buckingham Palace, and my wife and I tried to get one of the Beefeater guards to smile or say something when a dark-skinned man who was watching came up to me and was like “Are you Pat Boone? We love you in Persia!” And I was like “No, you won’t even know who I am”, but he said “Oh, yes, we love you in Persia, Iran” and then I found that the same was true in China in Russia because of Armed Forces Radio and other shortwave radios playing American music.

What are you going to do right now? What are the plans for the future?

Governor Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan meet Pat Boone and guests at Pepperdine's Birth of a College dinner 1970 University Archives Photograph Collection [digital resource], Pepperdine University Special Collections and University Archives ©

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan meet Pat Boone and guests at Pepperdine’s Birth of a College dinner 1970 by University Archives Photograph Collection [digital resource], Pepperdine University Special Collections and University Archives ©

I’m about to host an event dealing the Talisman of Napoleon Bonaparte which he wore into battle and was discovered in 1938 3 miles from Waterloo in a 15-foot ditch that was a water aqueduct connecting his camp to the scent of the battle. It is now being feathered on eBay. Also, I’m starting a podcast, I have done 7 episodes already that are in post-production to add music… it is me singing songs and other artists’ songs with clips from various shows I’ve done over the years. We think it will be highly entertaining as well as informative. When it comes to recording, in addition to the new release of my version of Enya’s Only Time for which I have very high hopes, I’ve just recorded a new version of the Grammy-winning You and I with Crystal Gayle who originally sang it in Eddie Rabbitt in 1982. She, along with Warner Bros, wanted me to do the song again with her, and I’m waiting to hear about when it will be released. I just finished leading roles in three movies, and two are yet to be released. The most recent release was God’s Not Dead 2, in 2016, in which I play the grandfather and another film called Miracle In The Valley released on Amazon Prime in 2016 in which I play an older village doctor in a town that actually exists, called Boonville. There are also two other Christian-themed films for secular releases including The Mulligan, in which I play a significant role as a famous golf pro; that film will be released in April 2022 right after the Master’s Golf Tournament and will be heavily promoted. And I am playing a significant role in a very expensive film made on President Ronald Reagan that will come out in the Spring. I was a very close friend and confidant to him… our kids went to school together!

Thank you so much for your time, Pat.
You know what, this is so important to me because I’m having this conversation with you, but I haven’t had this conversation with my great-grandkids. I mean, they’re too young. My grandkids are becoming adults and they now know that their grandfather, who’s still around, has been performing and making movies and they’re used to that, but their kids, and the kids that come after them are going to not know who this old guy was, but I want to be able to show them things like this. So what we’re doing right now, if I can preserve it somehow to show for my grandkids and for them to show their kids about who that old fellow was, it will be precious.

★ If you enjoyed the Pat Boone interview and you love music from the 1950s and the 1960s, you may also like our other interviews with the man who introduced The Beatles to Brian Epstein: Bill Harry of Mersey Beat, The Animals, ‘Mr American Pie’ Don McLean, Gerry’s Pacemakers, Maggie Bell of Stone the Crows, The Tremeloes , The Zombies, Jeff Christie and The Merseybeats

Unless stated otherwise, the pictures published have been provided from Pat Boone’s private collection © belongs to the owners

About The Author

Founder of The Shortlisted Magazine

The one behind the wheel.