July 18, 2014
Two weeks ago I wrote that it didn’t get any better than Ricky Nelson and Roy Orbison having back-to-back number one hits 50 years ago. That streak of excellence came to an end when “Moody River” by Pat Boone topped the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart 53 years ago.
Pat Boone was the vanilla milkshake of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll. He would take rhythm & blues hits of the day and turn them into homogenized pop songs. His versions usually outsold the originals and deprived many R&B artists of the day a great deal of crossover commercial success.
There can be no denying that this formula proved successful, as he sold 45 million albums, and had 60 singles reach the charts, including six that ascended to number one. It was, however, the British Invasion that brought his commercial viability to an end.
“Moody River” was released May 1, 1961, and although it took a while, it finally reached the number one position, June 19, 1961, where it remained for seven days. It was a depressing song of suicide and death. Frank Sinatra, Johnny Rivers, and John Fogerty’s Blue Ridge Rangers would all later record better versions of the song, but none would have the success of Mr. Boone.
Pat Boone had only one more Top 10 hit during his career after this before becoming a caricature of the music world and fame. As the 1960s progressed, the world of music and its fans quickly changed, and his move toward fundamental Christianity pushed him further away from mainstream success.
Still, there is no taking away the success that made him one of the stars of the early rock ‘n’ roll era and it was 53 ago that he had his last hurrah at the top of the charts.
August 5, 2013
Pat Boone was starring with Shirley Jones in the movie APRIL LOVE, when he released the title song as a single. It was written by Sammy Fain and Paul Webster who had won an Academy Award for “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.”
The rock and roll era was in full spring an Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and The Everly Brothers had topped the charts during 1957. “April Love” was an easy listening pop song but it managed to top all three of BILLBOARD’S Singles Charts.
Best Sellers In Stores Chart – 12/23/57 – 2 Weeks At Number One.
Most Played By DJ’s Chart – 12/16/57 – 6 Weeks At Number One.
Billboard Top 100 – 12/30/57 – 1 Week At Number One.
Pat Boone was a huge star during the last half of the 1950s. His television show, THE PAT BOONE-CHEVY SHOWROOM, premiered on ABC in October, just before “April Love” became the last number one song of 1957.
May 16, 2013
Elvis Presley was the most commercialy successful artist of the 1950s. Pat Boone was number two.
Many of his biggest hits were covers of rhythm & blues songs. Many radio stations would not play music by black artists so Boone would record their hits, which would then get airplay. Many of the artists would collect royalties but his success left him open for a lot of criticism. The biggest hit of his career, however, was originally recorded in 1931 and had been covered by the likes of Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby.
Boone had signed to star in the movie Bernadine. There were originally no songs in the film but the producers decided to find a few songs so he could sing. One of the songs chosen was “Love Letter In The Sand.” It was not Boone’s favorite hit but it ws the biggest of his career as it topped all three BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Singles Charts for multiple weeks.
Beat Seller In Stores Chart – 6/3/57 – 5 weeks at number one.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – 6/10/57 – 7 weeks at nuber one.
Billboard Top 100 Chart – 6/10/57 – 5 weeks at nuber one.
During the last half of the 1950’s be would place 39 singles on the Hot 100 Chart but none bigger than “Love Letters In The Sand.”
March 28, 2013
Pat Boone was one of the stars of the 1950s and early 1960s. He placed 58 singles on the BILLBOATD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts, 1955-1964, with six reaching number one.
By 1957 Pat Boone’s career was in full swing. He had already had two number one hits and five more reach the top ten when he released “Don’t Forbid Me” during early December of 1956. It quickly became the third number one of his career. While it stopped at number three on the Best Sellers In Stores Chart and number tow on The Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart; it spent one week on top of the Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart (2/23/57) and the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (2/9/57).
Pat Boone was the exact opposite of the image Elvis Presley projected. When the Beatles arrived in America, he became a relic of his era. Despite the loss of huge commercial success, he has remained active for the past half-century.
February 16, 2013
Pat Boone was the second most successful artist of the 1950s, ranking only behind Elvis Presley. He was the safe rock and roller for parents unlike Elvis, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. He had a number of hits that were covers of rhythm & blues tunes and many of his releases out sold the originals.
“I Almost Lost My Mind” was written by Ivory Joe Hunter who reached number one on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Rhythm & Blues Chart during 1950.
Pat Boone’s version was very pop and reached number two on the BILLBOARD Best Sellers In Stores Chart, Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart, and the Top 100. On July 28, 1956, it reached the top of the Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart where it remained for four weeks to become the second number one song of his career.
November 14, 2012
Pat Boone has not worn well down through the years but during the last half of the 1950s, he was a superstar. Only Elvis and Ricky Nelson were more commercially successful during that time period. He had 38 singles reach the American top 40 with six reaching number one. He acted in 12 films and had his own television show, 1957-1960.
He has received a lot of criticism for covering songs by black artists and selling more copies than the original artists.
His second chart hit was a cover of Fats Domino “Ain’t It A Shame,” which he changed to “Ain’t That A Shame. Fats version reached number ten while Boone’s topped the Billboard Magazine Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart for two weeks starting September 17, 1955.
Domino was one artist who did not complain about Boone as he was the writer of the song and laughed all the way to the bank while collecting his royalties.
May 10, 2010
I have never been a big Pat Boone fan despite the fact that many of his records adorn my collection.
Charles Eugene Boone placed sixty songs on the American singles charts between 1955 and 1969 with five reaching the number one position.
Many of his early hits were covers of rhythm and blues songs of the day which would prevent their artists from reaching a wider pop audiance. Songs such as “Tutti Fruitti,” “Ain’t That A Shame,” and “Long Tall Sally” all became hits for his middle America pop sound.
His biggest and best hit was a cover of an old 1931 hit by Ted Black & His Orchestra. “Love Letters In The Sand” would top the American charts for seven weeks during the spring of 1957. It would rank as the number twelve song of the entire decade.
It was a wonderful ballad and love song that was very different from his usual fifties fare. His voice was really geared toward this type of song and it remains a nostalgic listen over fifty years after its initial release.