In 1954, Boone made his first recordings for a small label called Republic Records, and a year later followed with his first Top 40 song on the Dot label called "Two Hearts", a cover of an R&B song by The Charms, which went to #16. It was a common practice in the '50s for White artists to cover R&B hits, and Pat's next offering was a cover of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame", a song that propelled both Fats and Pat to stardom. Both records entered the charts in July, 1955 with Domino's rendition reaching #10 and Pat Boone's version going all the way to #1. He followed with another cover of a song from a Black artist, The El Dorados' "At My Front Door", which quickly became his second Top Ten hit when it went to #7.
After releasing "No Arms Can Ever Hold You" (#26) and a cover of The Five Keys "Gee Whittakers" (#19) in 1955, Boone scored his third Billboard Top Ten hit in less than a year with "I'll Be Home Soon", which climbed to #4. Next up were copies of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" (#12) and "Long Tall Sally" (#8), before taking Ivory Joe Hunter's "I Almost Lost My Mind" to the top of the Billboard chart in the Summer of 1956. After enjoying a #5 hit with "Friendly Persuasion", he covered Joe Turner's "Chains Of Love" (#10), and had another chart topper with "Don't Forbid Me".
By 1957, Pat Boone was so popular, movie and television producers came calling. He appeared in fifteen films, including Bernardine, April Love, and State Fair. From 1957 to 1960 he hosted his own television series, The Pat Boone/Chevy Showroom. He even managed to finish his degree, graduating from Columbia University in New York City in 1958. All the while, the hits kept coming with "Why Baby Why" (#5) and "Love Letters In The Sand" (#1). During the following two years he continued to put records in the Top Ten, including "Remember You're Mine" (#6), "April Love" (#1), "A Wonderful Time Up There" (#4), "It's Too Soon To Know" (#4), "Sugar Moon" (#5) and "If Dreams Came True" (#7).
Pat Boone's star faded a bit by 1959, but he still managed to have four more Top 30 hits that year. His TV show was canceled in 1960 but 1961 saw a comeback of sorts when the haunting "Moody River" went to number one, becoming his fifth and final chart topper. The record itself has an interesting history. In need of another hit, Pat's producer, Randy Wood remembered the song from when it appeared earlier on the Country And Western charts by Chase Webster. Convinced that it could be a Pop hit, Pat recorded the tune and then went home for the night. Wood was so anxious to promote the record, he brought an acetate made from the master tape to a local Top 40 radio station. The staff listened to the song and liked it so much, they named it their pick of the week. Boone was still on his way home when he was shocked to hear the song he recorded only a few hours before, coming over his car radio. In 1962, Pat recorded a novelty tune called "Speedy Gonzalez", which peaked at #6 on Billboard's Hot 100. It would prove to be his last Billboard Top 40 hit.
When The Beatles hit the U.S. shores, Boone was left far behind as his white buck shoes were now viewed as hopelessly out of style. Bad financial investments and some marital difficulties troubled Boone and he would later credit his religious beliefs with seeing him through some hard times. Pat, his wife Shirley and their four daughters, Cherry, Lindy, Debby, and Laury, toured as Gospel singers and recorded albums like "The Pat Boone Family" and "The Family Who Prays". From 1975 to 1980 he recorded more Gospel albums on the Lamb & Lion label, such as "Born Again" and "Golden Hymns". Pat also had a number of Country hits in the '70s, with "Indiana Girl" and "Texas Woman" and the albums "I Love You More And More Each Day" and "The Country Side Of Pat Boone" for Motown Records. Pat had always been popular in the UK, where he had twetny-seven records reach the Top 40, although only one of which made number one, "I'll Be Home" in 1956.
Pat's daughter Debby married Gabriel Ferrer, who is the son of Jose Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney and released a single of her own in 1977 called "You Light Up My Life". The song held the number one spot for ten weeks in the U.S. and was recognized with a Grammy Award that year. When asked who it was that lit up her life, Debby said it was God that she was singing about.
In 1981, Pat published a book called Pray to Win, and in 1983 he began hosting a contemporary Christian syndicated radio show, all in addition to his extensive charity work. While his recording career continued to taper off, he did issue "Let Me Live", which became an anthem for the anti-abortion movement. For the most part, Boone spent much of the 1980s and 1990s out of the secular media spotlight, but in 1997 he made a splash with the LP "In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy", a tongue-in-cheek collection of covers of Heavy Metal tunes like "Smoke on the Water" and "Stairway to Heaven." Much of the singer's Christian contingent failed to get the joke however, and after Boone appeared at the American Music Awards accompanied by his friend, Shock-Rock icon Alice Cooper, clad in black leather and sporting temporary tattoos, he was dismissed from his Trinity Broadcasting Network program Gospel America.
In 2005, Pat announced the end of his fifty-year career. "I'm going to tip my hat and call it a day," he said. "My wife has been begging me for years, 'Please let us drift into some kind of private life, while we can still ambulate.'" That retirement didn't last long. Pat held a press conference on September 20th, 2006, announcing the release of his latest project "Pat Boone R&B Classics - We Are Family", which includes appearances by Smokey Robinson (on "Tears of a Clown"), The Four Tops ("I Can’t Help Myself"), Kool & the Gang ("Celebration"), KC & the Sunshine Band ("Get Down Tonight"), Sam Moore ("Soul Man"), Sister Sledge (on the title tune), Earth, Wind & Fire ("That’s the Way of the World"), Ray Parker Jr. ("A Woman Needs Love") and James Brown doing "Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag". The album started receiving radio air-play and entered the Billboard R&B charts in February, 2007.
Pat was always outspoken about religion and politics, strongly objecting to gay marriage in a December, 2008 article written for WorldNetDaily. In August, 2009 he wrote another strongly worded piece in which he compared liberals to cancer, describing them as "black filthy cells." That same year he also stated that he believed that Barack Obama was not eligible to serve as the President of the United States. Boone also said that Obama is fluent in Arabic and read the Koran in Arabic as a boy. He has also complained that President Obama "hasn't celebrated any Christian holidays in the White House."
Boone received a lifetime achievement award at the 38th annual Conservative Political Action Conference held in February 2011 and continued performing from time to time. In late October, 2015, he announced a new album called "R&B Duet Hits", where he performs R&B classics with the original artists, including James Brown, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops and Sam Moore.
Pat Boone's place in Rock 'n' Roll history was solidified by the fact that from 1955 to 1962, he had 38 Billboard Top 40 singles and for four consecutive years, 1955 to 1959, he was never off the American Pop charts. During that time, only Elvis Presley sold more records.
For more, be sure to read Gary James' interview with Pat Boone