More Mr. Nice Guy: How Pat Boone Seduced a Rock Critic

By Schoemer, Karen | American Heritage, February-March 2006 | Go to article overview

More Mr. Nice Guy: How Pat Boone Seduced a Rock Critic


Schoemer, Karen, American Heritage


Pat Boone Says: You Don't Have to Wiggle

... Do I think performers have a moral obligation to their fans? Well, I do. I have had considerable success in the rock-and-roll field, but I think that some of its exponents, usually the instrumentalists, are giving it a black eye. They are way off-base with their onstage contortions. I don't think anything excuses the suggestive gyrations that some rock-and-rollers go in for.... I like rhythm, too. But the human body consists of about 200 separate bones and I don't think it's necessary to call all of them into play even on a jittery ditty like, "Long, Tall Sally." I belong to the finger-snapping school myself. That, and a little tapping of the feet, is enough to satisfy my soul. And it seems to satisfy my audiences, too.

--Pat Boone, This Week Magazine, July 7, 1957

PAT BOONE IS ROCK 'N' ROLL'S FAVORITE whipping boy. People love to kick him around. It's an extreme sport for unathletic, hard-living liberals. Boone's white buckskin shoes, milk-fed complexion, combed hair, and croony baritone voice make him an ideal villain for a genre that glorifies emaciation, bed head, screeching guitars, and raw-throated yowlers. Boone has helped his detractors' case by broadcasting his conservative values. But his greatest sin is a musical one. In the mid-fifties he recorded tidy, buttoned-up versions of R&B hits like Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Fats Domino's "Ain't It a Shame" (he tweaked the title to make it "Ain't That a Shame"). Little Richard loves to beef about Boone: "The white kids wanted [my version] 'cause it was real rough and raw, and Pat Boone had this smooth version." And so the white kids would take mine and put it in the drawer and put his on top of the dresser." Fats Domino also grumbled: "That hurt. It took me two months to write 'Ain't It a Shame,' and his record comes out around the same time mine did." White guys join the fray too. Upon his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, Billy Joel made a de rigueur swipe: "I was into the originators, the real R&B--not stuff like Pat Boone and Frankie Avalon."

Boone is aware of these criticisms, and in his unerringly polite, love-thy-enemy way, he enjoys telling his accusers to F off. "This revisionist idea has sprung up, somehow, that when pop artists covered an R&B record, we were inhibiting the progress, instead of enhancing the progress, of the original artists. But in those early days R&B music did not get played on pop radio. It was too raw, rough, unfinished-sounding, garbled. You couldn't understand all the words. People were used to big bands and polished production. Deejays weren't ready to play it and people weren't ready to receive it. But when we would do a more polished pop version of a song, it had a chance, and it began to catch on. People don't understand the necessary role the cover versions played. It was pop artists doing R&B music that focused the spotlight on the original artists and opened the door."

We were sitting in the offices of Pat Boone Productions on Sunset Boulevard in L.A., not far from rock 'n' roll landmarks like the Whisky A Go-Go, where Jim Morrison dangled off the roof during a Doors performance, and the Hyatt hotel, where members of Led Zeppelin dumped a TV set off a balcony. Pat's location on the Sunset Strip seemed meaningful; it was as if he was saying that clean-cut, letter-sweater propriety had its rightful place alongside debauchery in rock history. The offices were decked with enough gold and platinum records to blind the eye; there were also stage photos, posters from Pat's films, and assorted memorabilia. An L.A. Rams football helmet sat on a cabinet beneath a framed letter from Frank Sinatra, written after Pat had broken his jaw in a motorcycle accident. The letter said: "Dummy! Next time use this. Love ya, Frank."

Boone wore a red sweatshirt, jeans, and a baseball cap. His face was lined but handsome. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

More Mr. Nice Guy: How Pat Boone Seduced a Rock Critic
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.