Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? Pat Boone, the churchgoin,’ milk-drinking, white bucks-sporting purveyor of easy-listening pop hits, is doing a metal album. He’s thinking of titling it Pat Boone: No More Mr. Nice Guy. He plans to cover “Stairway to Heaven,” “Smoke on the Water” and “Jump,” among other songs. This from a man who wanted to change the Fats Domino classic to “Isn’t That a Shame” when he covered it back in 1955. Sixty-one-year-old Boone explains himself from his home in Los Angeles.
Can you hang on a second? It’s warm, and I want to take off my shirt. [Pause] There, now I’m topless! In keeping with my new image!
Pat, you certainly are confounding people.
This isn’t the first time this has happened. I played the Playboy hotel in New Jersey once.
You’ve never been to the mansion, have you?
I was invited a time or two, but in the few issues of Playboy I’ve seen since then, I’ve noticed that when anything happens there, they take a lot of pictures.
Now wait a minute! Do you subscribe?
No, no. But there have been several issue situations that have interested me. Knowing Frank Sinatra so well, I just could not believe that Nancy Sinatra was going to do what she did. So I did get ahold of a copy and check that out.
You may be the only person ever that I actually believe reads the magazine for the articles.
[Silence] I tell you, years ago I did….Like 30 years ago, I did, uh, have a subscription. One day I was on the Dinah Shore show with Hugh [Hefner]. Dinah turned to me and said, “How would you feel if one of your daughters said she wanted to be a Playboy Playmate?” I said, “Well, I guess I would just talk it over, and then I would turn her over my lap and spank the fire out of her.” All Hugh said was, “Well, we couldn’t use her with those marks on her bottom.”
Pat, you can roll with it.
I’ve never ducked from confrontation. I was on Politically Incorrect, and Bill Maher said prostitution was the world’s oldest profession. I said, no, it isn’t. Gardening is.
You are a bundle of surprises for a guy with a clean-cut image.
Maybe I’ll start wearing a patch now over one eye. I thought about growing a beard. If I looked like Kenny Rogers, I might do it. And Tom Selleck ought to keep that mustache on for the duration. Man, he’s fabulous-looking with it!
Tell me something to dispel that image.
Gee. I’m afraid the image is not an image. You know, Rolling Stone did a cover story of me in the mid-’70s [RS 205], saying what you see is what you get. It was such a nice complimentary article, I sent 50 cartons of milk in ice up to the editorial offices in San Francisco.
So how did this metal album occur to you?
It was a joke I had with my musicians. One day I said, “Are there any metal songs that are actually good? Maybe we should put together a list of songs that I could do a different way.” To my amazement, I started finding ones that I really liked — Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple.
Have you been to a show?
It’s high time I went to a couple of metal concerts. The only contact I’d had with metal was when a couple of my nieces went to an Alice Cooper concert. I was appalled because I’d heard wild things — about what he did, what he sang, the whole bizarre thing of a man calling himself a woman’s name. So they went and they described Cooper — I mean Vince. I’ve met Vince since then, and we’ve played golf together.
How’s his game?
Oh, he’s good. So anyway, this whole thing is a theatrical creation of his. It was so ghastly that my nieces could hardly talk for a couple of days. So that was the impression I’d had of the whole metal genre until I started finding terrific songs. Judas Priest has one song about “Living After Midnight” that I like.
Are you doing that?
I can’t because it’s about a guy that only comes to life after midnight and he’s loaded, and that would be stupid for me to do. I’m already getting calls of great concern from people saying, “What is Pat doing? Doesn’t he know that Kiss stands for Knights in Satan’s Service?” But I can identify with that Alice Cooper song “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Funny thing is, I’ve been so critical, as many of us have, about these cars driving fast with their windows open and the high-decibel amplifiers roaring this music out. Now I’m driving down the street in a Camaro and …
Did I hear you correctly? You have a Camaro?
Oh, yeah. A Z-28. It’s just pure muscle, this car. So I play these metal things up loud so they nearly shatter the darkened windows. Anyway, we’re going to do rhythm songs that we believe can be done very effectively with a big band.
This isn’t so strange. You covered a lot of R&B back in the day.
My records were tame by comparison to the originals, but they had to be if they were going to be accepted. I was walking a real tightrope.
You knew Elvis back then. What was surprising about him?
His loneliness. That’s not so surprising now. It was then. Most of our relationship was before he was married. He would come over to our house in Bel-Air in his Rolls, with his dark glasses, his jumpsuit, his turnedup collar, and he’d just sit around by the pool, and the girls would jump in his lap and get him sopping wet, and he just loved it. Hang on one second [pause]. My wife just reminded me that I hadn’t eaten my breakfast. I had some good heavy-fiber toast earlier, but now I’ve got some chopped-up fruit and nuts with honey over it. It’s delicious and very healthy and even good for the voice! Which I’m gonna need.