Pat Boone is a descendent of the legendary U.S. pioneer Daniel Boone. He has been a top-selling recording artist, the star of his own hit TV series, a movie star, a Broadway headliner and a best-selling author in a career that has spanned half a century. During the classic rock and roll era of the 1950s, he sold more records than any artist except Elvis Presley.
Now 72, Boone continues to be a beacon for moral values in the entertainment industry. He is also a regular columnist for the leading internet news site worldnetdaily.com, commenting on important issues such as marriage, evolution, the de-Christianization of Christmas and more.
The Interim recently arranged for this exclusive interview with Boone by telephone, in which we asked him about his latest endeavours, his thoughts on the moral decline in North America and what he believes the role of the arts should be in fostering a healthy society.
More information on Boone can be found at his websites: patboone.com, patsgold.com and formycountry.us.
The Interim: What are your latest projects; what have you been up to lately?
Pat Boone: I’ve got a brand new book called Pat Boone’s America: 50 Years. It’s a memoir, a big table-top kind of book with pictures, a lot of surprises, a whole account of my career, life and interaction with kings, presidents, Presleys and Eldridge Cleaver (laughs) and all kinds of people. It’s also a look at our society, our culture, and the way it has changed in the last 50 years – technologically, in some ways, very good, promising, helpful. In other ways, not good. I talk about the spiritual, moral climate that we’re all living in and that has changed so dramatically in the last 50 years, maybe more than many people realize.
And then there’s two or three new albums – one is of R and B classics with the original performers; new versions of their classics that we do together. Like James Brown and Earth, Wind and Fire. Smokey Robinson and the Four Tops. Sister Sledge and Kool and the Gang. And on and on. Great songs and very good new versions of those hits. I’ve written a song about our National Guard, For My Country, the ballad of the National Guard (for) the volunteer men and women who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and stationed in Korea and other places around the world. Because we face an enemy who does not wear uniforms and isn’t restricted by national boundaries. There’s a plethora of stuff I had the opportunity and felt the need to do.
The Interim: I wanted to hone in especially on what you said about what’s been happening the past 50 years. We’re certainly seeing a huge moral decline in the West and, as you might know, in Canada we’ve already legalized same-sex “marriage.” I’m wondering why you think we’ve descended to this point and what can we do to try to turn things around.
Pat Boone: That’s a great question and one I ponder all the time. The main thing is – I read through the Bible every year from beginning to end in a programmed way … Today, I read in Proverbs, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” We have a lot of educated fools in important positions, particularly in education, media and some in government. They think they are so wise and they are determined to be “progressive” and to liberate society from these notions of there being a God to whom we are responsible. To a great extent, they’re succeeding.
As you take God out of school in our country, forbid children to have even a voluntary general-type prayer at the beginning of the day, take the 10 Commandments off any type of public display, keep on removing any mention or notion of God and responsibility, then of course we find ourselves living in a society where there aren’t any hard and fast rules, no absolutes, everything relative and changing, one man’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s … It becomes sort of a moral anarchy. That’s what we’re seeing …
I think there is only one answer … “Read the directions” … We won’t ask directions … We just keep coasting along, doing what we think we want to do, what we think will gratify us, getting worse and more and more lost and messed up. The only answer is to get out the manufacturer’s handbook and read the directions. The Creator who put it all together and knows how it works will instruct us. But if we think we can muddy along on our own, we’ll just get more and more lost.
The Interim: You’re known for having refused music and movie roles in the past that conflicted with your morals and principles. What role do you think the arts can play in terms of a revival?
Pat Boone: With every freedom comes a responsibility. Unless those freedoms are exercised with a sense of responsibility, they becomes licences – the illicit freedom to do whatever you want and feel like … That’s what’s happening with so much of entertainment, music and everything else. It becomes more and more depraved, debauched, violent, sordid, dark, hedonistic … I think any healthy society must censor to survive … Art should be limited in the same ways. We’ve had decency and obscenity laws in the past … Now, all the limits and all of that are just disappearing. We’re letting it happen. I’m not sure the citizenry will ever gather the gumption to say, “Wait a minute. We’re going to impose some limitations. We don’t want our kids buried under profanity, obscenity, filth, immorality. We’re insisting that we have some guidelines.” That may sound prudish to some; okay, let it be.
Our great American philosopher Ben Franklin said a long time ago … “Only a moral and virtuous people are capable of freedom.” The more corrupt and vicious a society becomes, the more it has need of masters. I chew on that and think about it a lot … Otherwise, freedom becomes licence, anarchy and eventually the society collapses.
The Interim: The Christian music market has grown exponentially in recent years. Do you see that as a positive development?
Pat Boone: Yes, of course. I’ve been involved in Christian, gospel music for my whole career. I had the first million-selling gospel album. It’s called Hymns We Love … I’m now in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame … I do it because I enjoy it and because it is a positive influence and reflection of a vibrant and real spiritual life and recognition, acknowledgement and gratitude to a God who cares about us. You sure don’t get much of that in the pop world.
It bugs me no end when, at awards shows, some rapper whose records are filled with sexual innuendo and even admonitions to violence and sexual braggadocio, gets an award and thanks “my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” They wear a cross and are thanking God. I can almost hear God from heaven saying, “Look, I had nothing to do with that. Don’t attach my name to that filth and decadence …”
I want to let people know about a place where people can sort of link arms and say, “Wait a minute. We are concerned.” We do recognize what’s going on here and if we’re going to retain a society we inherited and try to pass it on to our kids and grandkids, we’re going to have to defend it. We’re going to have to make some personal insistences and demands on behaviour. That’s not easy. It’s not easy. It’s unpopular.
For an entertainer like me, you can be labelled a prude, a religious whacko or whatever. But I’m not. I’m a Columbia University graduate and know what’s going on in the world. But I don’t like a lot of what I see because I care about my kids’, grandkids’ and our two nations’ futures.
The Interim: We appreciate your being a positive influence in the entertainment industry and wish you all the best in the coming years as you continue.
Pat Boone: I thank you and I’m sure glad you’re where you are, shining a little light!
Highlights of Pat Boone’s life
Born in Jacksonville, Fl., June 1, 1934.
Boone is a direct descendant of the American pioneer Daniel Boone.
Grew up in Nashville, Tenn.
Boone married Shirley Lee Foley, daughter of country music great Red Foley and singer Judy Martin, in 1953.
Four daughters: Cherry, Lindy, Debby, and Laury.
Began recording in 1954.
1955 version of Ain’t That a Shame was a huge hit, selling far better than Fats Domino’s original version.
His recording of the theme song from the 1957 film April Love topped the charts for six weeks and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 1958.
Refused a role opposite the decade’s reigning sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe.
From 1957 to 1960, he hosted his own television series The Pat Boone/Chevy Showroom.
A devout born-again Christian, he was raised in the conservative Church of Christ, but has been a member of a Pentecostal church, the Church on the Way, since the late 1960s.
Appeared in 15 films, including Bernardine, April Love and State Fair.
In 1961, he released Moody River, which was to be his fifth and final number one song.
In the 1970s, he switched to gospel and country.
In the 1970s, the Boone family toured as gospel singers and made gospel albums, such as The Pat Boone Family and The Family Who Prays.
In 2003, the Gospel Music Association of Nashville, Tenn. recognized his gospel recording work by inducting him into its Gospel Music Hall of Fame.