We are herewith highlighting those men and women who sparked the flames of rock and roll and gave it the chance to move in all kinds of directions as it became one of the most important musical genres of the latter half of the 20th Century. Where it went and what it has become today is largely because of these icons to whom we dedicate this series.
Our first installment featured Elvis Presley, The Undisputed King of Rock and Roll. That was followed by a tribute to The Everly Brothers, who were important influences on many rock and roll artists, especially The Beatles. When Elvis was hailed as the King of Rock and Roll, on one occasion, he turned and pointed at the audience and said, "There is the true King of Rock and Roll!" He was pointing to Fats Domino, who was the subject of Installment #3. Part 4 led us to someone with whom many of us grew up through the art of television. Ricky Nelson became part of our household just like his family did.
Ricky, Elvis, The Everly Brothers and Fats Domino owned the charts back in the late 50's. No series of this sort would be complete if it did not include that young man who took the then "raw" songs of rhythm, blues and soul, added a little toothpaste to clean them up, and infused a whole enchilada of charm into those songs as they reached the top of the charts, thus affording the "originals" more sales and air play than they would ever have had without his help. Not yet inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we suspect that event is coming. Although some have tried, no one can really dispute the part played in the story of rock and roll by
JUNE 1, 1934
According to Billboard, Boone was the second biggest charting artist of the late 1950s, behind only Elvis Presley but ahead of Ricky Nelson and The Platters, and was ranked at No. 9—behind The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney but ahead of artists such as Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys—in its listing of the Top 100 Top 40 Artists 1955-1995. Boone still holds the Billboard record for spending 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with one or more songs each week. His cover versions of rhythm and blues hits had a noticeable effect on the development of the broad popularity of rock and roll. During his tours in the 1950s, Elvis Presley was one of his opening acts. Artists like Fats Domino and Little Richard (whose hits he had covered), have said they owe him a great amount of thanks for bringing their music to the forefront and for helping to initiate the rock and roll era. He sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood movies. Boone's talent as a singer and actor, combined with his old-fashioned values, contributed to his popularity in the early rock and roll era.
At the age of twenty-three, he began hosting a half-hour ABC variety television series, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, which aired for 115 episodes (1957–1960). Many musical performers made appearances on the show, many of which were black soul artists. As a prolific author, Boone had a No. 1 bestseller in the 1950s (Twixt Twelve and Twenty, Prentice-Hall). In the 1960s, he focused on gospel music and is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He continues to perform and speak as a motivational speaker, a television personality, and a conservative political commentator.
His first charted hit in 1955 , a version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" was only the beginning. (Domino even complimented Boone's rendition.) This set the stage for the early part of Boone's career, which focused on covering R&B songs by black artists for a white American market. Randy Wood, the owner of Dot Records, had issued an R & B single by the Griffin Brothers in 1951 called "Tra La La-a"—a different song than the later LaVern Baker one—and he was keen to put out another version after the original had failed. This became the B side of the first Boone single "Two Hearts Two Kisses", originally by the Charms - whose "Hearts Of Stone" had been covered by the label's Fontane Sisters. Once the Boone version was in the shops, it spawned more covers by the Crewcuts, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra. A No. 1 single in 1956 by Boone was not so much a cover as a revival of a then-seven year old song "I Almost Lost My Mind", which had been covered at the time by another black star, Nat King Cole, from the original by Ivory Joe Hunter, who was to benefit from Boone's hit version not only in royalties but in status as he was back in the news. According to an opinion poll of high school students in 1957, the singer was nearly the "two-to-one favorite over Elvis Presley among boys and preferred almost three-to-one by girls..."
Two somewhat recent articles put into quick perspective the significant role of Pat Boone in Musical History and his importance to American life and culture as well as to rock and roll. These are the links:
In the years since his phenomenal run of hits on the pop charts, Pat went on to become more than just a rock and roll icon. He became an iconic musical legend, whose vocal mastery in any musical format is second to none.