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The Pat Boone Interview

I interviewed Pat on one of his many tours to Australia. I was part of the media crammed into a suite in a hotel in Sydney. Pat asked me to stay behind and we later had brunch in the deserted hotel restaurant and quite a long conversation. Pat was very open and shared quite a number of personal things which never went to print.

 

Don: Could you bring us up to date with what's happening with Pat Boone and family?

Pat: We are very much in transition. My older three daughters are married; it shocks me when I think of it. I have the pictures upstairs to prove it. Cherrie and Dan live in Hawaii working with Youth With A Mission. They have been giving their time totally to Youth With A Mission, earning their living some other way. Dan is working on books with a Christian doctor psychiatrist in Seattle. Dan goes to Seattle once in a while, but they live in Hawaii and have been working primarily with Youth With A Mission. Doug and Lindy have two children, Ryan and Jessie.

Doug worked with me in Lamb and Lion Records for about two years and has now moved over to MCA, where MCA has committed money and their whole machine to try to build a new contemporary gospel label at a secular company: a big one. It's a great breakthrough and Doug's heading that up along with Chris Christian. I notice you have written some good things about Chris and are as impressed with his production as I am. That's a great opportunity there and it remains to be seen what will come of it, but their first artist is Dan Peek who was with 'America' and is the first Christian artist on a Christian label to ever get way up in the charts. His song All Things Are Possible has been on the Easy listening or the MOR charts for 2 or 3 months now, and MCA has bought his record from Word. It's still a Lamb and Lion record and it thrills me to think that, (and it's a great answer to prayer), because I have been trying to get Christian music out into the secular market place for eight years.

That's the whole reason for Lamb and Lion Records, not just to do Christian music, but to get it out into the top 40 stations. Well, it's happening now with Dan Peek and we have changed the name of our label for MCA at least, (it's still Lamb and Lion), but also there's an auxiliary label called Pinewind, with thanks to the Talbots in Sparrow (that musical they did), so there’s that great opportunity. MCA thinks they can make Dan Peek a successful solo artist commercially and secularly and a growing number of people know that he's just as serious as Bob Dylan is and it even happened before Bob Dylan. So Doug's right in the heart of that. Debbie married Gabriel Ferrer (it's interesting, Debbie who's such a good singer would marry a Gabriel) but they grew up just around the corner from each other in Beverley Hills, and Gabriel is a Bible Teacher and has had bible studies in his home for other young people for several years now, and it was his spiritual strength and growth that really attracted Debbie to him.

You have had a few problems with Debbie?

PB: Yes. Debbie was the most rebellious and I don't know that she meant to be rebellious, I don't think she did, I think she just meant to be herself totally: she didn't want to necessarily have to do what Shirley and I wanted her to do just because it was expected of her. I could really identify with her because I was not outwardly stubborn or independent as Debbie, but growing up, even though I was the oldest in my family, I didn't want to do what was expected of me at a certain age, for instance baptism. In our church background, that's expected. I got to be twelve and finally thirteen before I did it, even though my brother `jumped the gun' and he's a year younger than I, and he was baptised slightly before he was twelve. So through my twelfth year and well into my thirteenth, I was not stubborn, but I just wanted to know that I was doing this because I knew why, and because it was important, and not just because it was expected. When I walked down the aisle I knew it was a commitment of my life, and it really was, so I could understand that in Debbie and sympathise.

There were times, a lot of times, when she just lowered her eyelids and gritted her teeth, and I could see that no matter what I said she was not going to do it just because I said to do it. I went along with it when I could, but sometimes it was simply a clash of wills. Of course, spiritually as well as emotionally, I guess I felt it was important that it be established that I was the boss in our' home because God expected me to be, and if she was rebelling for rebelling sake, refusing to do what the others had done in direct disobedience to my directive; then it had to be dealt with an that level. It was awful and I hated it I don't know if you have read in "The Honeymoon Is Over", the last time I spanked Debbie, it was horrendous. She was about eighteen or seventeen. I was seventeen when I got my last spanking. President of the Student Body in High School; already going steady with Shirley, my future wife, and I came to school and I felt like I couldn't sit down. My mother had taken a sewing machine belt (it's just a hard piece of leather that would bite) and she would turn my brother and me over the bathtub because we had been physically fighting about our clothes; who's going to wear what. She said "Boys, go to the bathroom," and we went in there and we were looking at each other like "could this be happening?" It had been several years since we had been spanked, but she took that sewing machine belt and lashed us till we couldn't stand up straight, much less sit down. I went to school late and Shirley said "What happened to you?" I said, "You'll never believe it." I think I wore the welts from that for a month, so that was not why I was spanking Debbie. We had had a disagreement on the road and a flare up. She had spent time with a couple of musicians.

Perfectly innocent, but there was an element of disobedience in it and we got into an argument. She got sassy and I threw her down on the bed and spanked her in front of the other girls and Shirley. It was a very traumatic scene, and I went to my room in a stupor. I sat down and thought again, "this can't have happened." Shirley and I talked for a long time and prayed. I finally went into the girls' room and they were on the bed now. I apologised and I said "I know it doesn't mean a lot, but I feel like I have mishandled things. When you are old enough you should not have to be spanked. I am not saying you were right, but I am saying I was wrong in handling it the way I have and I am sorry." I apologised to Debbie because it was bad for all of us and as her father I should be able to handle things in a better way. They all knew I felt rotten, but they didn't let me off the hook that night. Silence.

DG: The whole lot of them?

PB: Yes, especially Debbie. She could be an iceberg for weeks if she wanted to be. The next day though, Debbie showed me one of the bruises on her leg and again I felt awful. She made some joke (I can't remember what it was) and laughed. We all laughed hysterically on the plane. The people in the first class section of the plane could not figure why we were all laughing but it was a great release.

Debbie said, "I have got this big bruise and I am going to carry it for a long time, but it's okay Daddy." That was the last time, but Debbie and I came to understand each other so well because we are so much alike. There's almost a fierce determination to be independent and not just to be herded along like sheep. Of course, I think it's also good to be sheep sometimes, and Debbie is learning that and I think I have pretty well learned that too. There are times when it is really good just to be part of the pack. Just to go along and do what '' everybody else does because it right and because it is expected of you for good reasons. I find myself hungry now to get to Church on the Way or to a church life centre or any of the churches: sit in and do whatever the minister says to do, worship and just be part of the whole crowd. It does something very good for me. I have got to the place where I recognise a craving for it.

DG: I don't know whether you saw some of the letters we got in Keystone referring to "You Light Up My Life".

PB: Yes I did, about the "it feels so right".

DG: How did Debbie feel about that?

PB: Debbie had to really cope with it. It didn't bother her when she was singing it, because she was singing it to the Lord and her whole focus was "it can't be wrong to commit myself totally to You because I have this inner feeling that it is right." Later people said, "Can't that be an excuse for anything that feels right - don't worry about it: it can't be wrong, it feels right." Debbie said "Well, that's the way other people may see it but that's not what I was thinking or saying." It was the most amazing thing because she had never made a single record, and now she was going into totally unfamiliar surroundings, a big cavernous studio in New York City and in fact the band was already done. To show you how miraculous this was, the record had already been done and was already in the movie by this other girl, but Warner Bros. wanted to put the single out and was having trouble signing this other girl, who was a very successful studio singer in New York.

She knew this one sounded like a gift and she wanted it better than the average beginning contract so she was giving them a hard time and they couldn't sign her. Also I think she had a falling out with the Producer/Writer Joe Brooks, so Mike Curb saw the movie first, heard the song and said that sounds a lot like Debbie, but I think Debbie could do it even better. He talked to Joe Brooks, who said, "We have already got a record, already got a girl, nobody could sing it better and this is good enough." Mike said, "Let me do a demo tape with Debbie." So he got a copy of the instrumental track, put Debbie's voice on it and sent it to Joe Brooks. He thought it was so good, he said, "Come on up to New York! We're having trouble signing this other girl anyway."

They took the other girl's voice off the finished record and put Debbie's voice on, 'cause Debbie just signed a straight, regular contract. She wasn't looking for the moon. She got it but she wasn't looking for it. On the way to the plane she said, "Mommy I could sing this song to the Lord, that's the way I really feel about Him - You light up my life and You give me hope to carry on." Shirley said, "Well sure, we do." Debbie just went into the studio and closed her eyes, and Joe Brooks said, "Look, let's run through it and get started here" - you know, he thought it was going to be a long process. The very first time, Debbie was standing there with her eyes closed, not looking at the music or anything, singing this song, and Joe was getting goose bumps, the engineer said, "Wow, man, she's been working on that song or something." And Shirley said, "Yeah." So he made a few little corrections, he didn't work on it very long because there wasn't a whole lot to produce; there was such raw emotion and feeling and Brooks didn't know that she was singing it to the Lord Later Debbie said so often that Brooks was asked about it, and was quoted in the paper as saying all he cared about was that it was a hit, he just wanted a big song and this idea that it was sung to the Lord - he didn't like that at all.

Debbie can only answer for what she was saying and was communicating when she sang it, and the interesting wonderful thing about it was that she spent a year working with emotionally disturbed kids, which has been her special interest, and she recorded this song which became the anthem of all the handicapped kids all over the country, and around the world.

Children have been so galvanised by that song, the blind kids and handicapped kids and little children because there is something about that song and the way she sang it and it touches them. Time after time we have been in cities together, and sometimes she without me and the news media or somebody would bring a little blind kid 3 or 4 years old who knew the song and wanted to sing it for Debbie, and Debbie would just sit there crying and everybody crying while this little blind child would sing "You Light Up My Life" to Debbie, because the kid identified so with Debbie. What touched her so much was deaf kids. They had deaf kids in the Academy Awards doing sign language, and they weren't all deaf, many just hard of hearing. Isn't that incredible, ‘that she would devote a year of her life ~ looking after kids, and the Lord says, "O.K., here’s’ a song for you to really communicate with these kids."

D.G.: Is there any truth in the rumours I heard that there was a connection between Debbie and Bob Dylan. Over here, the minute it broke out, the media said he was baptised in Pat Boone's swimming pool.

PB: No, it originated in the States. I was asked about it everywhere I went. And I said "I wish I could tell you it was true, but it isn't. I haven't even talked to Bob about it. I met him only one time, and it might have been the fact that he is at the Vineyard and Debbie is associated with the Vineyard fellowship. And the media just put two and two together and come out with `Bob Dylan has been converted by Debbie Boone.' It's also a standard thing over there, that because we have used our pool so many times for baptising people, and simply because there aren't many churches with baptismal fonts, they would ask if they could use our pool. So now, whenever someone gets baptised in Hollywood, the media says, "Oh, it must have happened in Pat Boone's swimming pool."

DG: With the three girls being married, does that affect your family devotionals? Do you still continue? Do the others come around?

PB: Shirley and I do. Laurie is in Rhema Bible Training Centre in Tulsa now. She's the first and only one of our daughters that went away to school, because I have always told the girls that I had provided for their education and they could go to any Christian college that they could get into, as long as they could be home for dinner. So I was not about to let them very far away. I have just never subscribed to the idea that it was good for a young girl to go away to school and I have seen too many of the bad results. Laurie's twenty one, and she wanted to go to the Kenneth Hagen Bible School in Tulsa. For the first and only time, Shirley and I felt that it was alright. Well, she's a grown young woman and it's a Bible School of intensive bible study training for the ministry and Laurie has turned down her recording contracts to go there.

Chris Christian and others have said, "Look, I have got a song that I think would be great for you to do. I think it could be either a commercial hit or a Christian hit," and Laurie said, "I'm not ready to handle it yet," in much the same way that Debbie did. Debbie didn't feel that she was ready, and certainly neither did we, for a professional career until she got some real good bible teachings. She went to the Y.W.A.M. School for a year, although that was in Sutherland (it was about an hour's drive), but she was home for dinner. She also spent a year in voluntary work in an emotionally disturbed children's place. The Y.W.A.M. School training really established in her own mind way down deep who she was, what was really important, what the basis of her decisions would be. So when a song came and an opportunity came she could keep it in context, and I think she has done an amazing job. Gabriel, of course, fits into that picture beautifully because he is a teacher and I feel really good about him and Debbie. I know that Laurie thinks she's already met her guy, but we are not all sold. We offered to pay his way in Rhema too, and his training, but he decided not to do it. He is sort of a foot loose, drifter type, a Christian musician, and Laurie really thinks he is great.

He has a lot of good qualities but Shirley and I still do not feel he is the right one for her, particularly because he is a drifter, he doesn't seem like a guy who would commit himself to any group or anything for long. It is one thing to be independent and another equally important thing to be willing to be committed. I was glad to hear Larry Norman talking possibly about some kind of church roots because for a long time he and a lot of other Christian musicians were on the road all the time. They were not at any kind of regular fellowship at all, were not submitted to elders, had no real spiritual oversight, and were not answerable to anybody. Laurie and I and Shirley spent a couple of evenings with Larry and Pamela because they were going through some hassles, just because there was no spiritual umbrella over them, they were sort of mavericks. Drifting, doing good things with all the good intentions in the world, but they were exposed, sort of targets. Our family is so separate now, that the only time we can have any kind of devotion together is when we are together for T.V. specials.

DG: How are the T.V. specials going?


PB: They have done fine. I go from here to Japan, have concerts there with Debbie and go home to do a big Christmas special for ABC. I have Rosemary Clooney, a children's chorus, and I think the Hudson Brothers, and stars of a big T.V. show called "The Ropers" in the States. But I have made it very plain to our staff that I wanted to have a big section of real Christmas music, the old carols and things that people like to hear and sing at Christmas. So many of our Christmas specials in the States have gotten away from that, and they figure "that's been done so much, let's do something different." This might be our last family special because as I say we are in transition.

Debbie and Cherrie have their own families to start, and Doug and Lindy have already got a good start on theirs. Gabriel and Debbie said they are not going to have kids for a while, but Shirley and I said that too. So I don't think it is going to be possible to get our family together for any other specials after this one, so I want it to have a real strong Christian witness. Fortunately it is a Christmas special, so I told them I want to end the show with Silent Night. There will be comedy sketches and all of that. We are going to have eight or nine songs, just about Jesus' birth. I want it to have a stronger Christian witness that any secular special I have ever been able to have before. You don't get the "Midnight Special" here, do you?

DG: We used to.

PB: I know in your interview with Randy Stonehill you talked about his appearance with Debbie on the "Midnight Special", and the only time I've hosted that show it was a Christmas special. I think it may have been last year; anyway it was a Christmas special of the "Midnight Special". I was hosting the show and I started out singing some rock songs, but then we did a whole big Christmas song section that I had put together for Japan when they asked me to go over there and do a Christmas concert. Christmas is so big in Japan,, and somehow or other I have become ', their Bing Crosby.

My songs are associated with Christmas in their minds, which is great, and gives me the opportunity to go to Japan for a month to do concerts. What I did was construct a twenty minute section, which I had to cut down for the "Midnight Special", of music all about Jesus' birth and all the ' well known hymns and carols, and lead ' up finally to his death and resurrection II and ended it with "Alleluia" to make sure they got the message. I put together a whole slide presentation too, so that there were these pictures and they got the whole story. The Japanese promoter came back about the second show and said, "People are crying out there. Japanese don't do that. You have got to convert us." So for twenty three cities I did that show.
I cut the medley down and did the same songs in the "Midnight Special", with my girls singing with me, and they have not asked me back, but I've had these opportunities. Some Christians that I hear from, from time to time say, "You didn't say it enough, you are not open enough," and "Why don't you tell Johnny Carson that he needs to be saved?" or something like that. I always write them back because I want to in no way dampen their enthusiasm, but I really understand that when you get into this area, if you seem too rabid, too fanatical, you are finished. I have been trying to walk this tightrope for a long time, to be an entertainer and to be welcome in the entertainment situations and yet to be an infiltrator too, almost a spy.

It has gotten to the point in the entertainment business where you have to be sort of covert about what you do, and just let it sort of happen almost accidentally that you seem to be singing or talking about Jesus (oh, was I?) or "Yeah, that's just a song that I ran across," or something like that. On the Tonight Show I have sung a Danniebelle song, a Janny Grine song "Cast Your Bread Upon The Water'", Dotty Rambo's "I Go To The Rock". Recently I did "Brother Love Salvation Show, "Had A Wonderful Time Up There" which is an out and out gospel sermon, but set to a rock beat and it is show cast to Neil Diamond's song "Brother Love Salvation Show", so I keep doing these things but as entertainment, and if the discussion goes to a different direction, if the host asks me for my opinion or gives me a chance to go further I will. In that way the doors have stayed open, but if I come on too strong one time, then that will be the end. In fact, I have hosted the "Tonight Show" quite successfully in the past, but last time the producer mentioned to me that he wanted to talk and set a date for me to host the show again, because I had made a particularly good appearance that night.

I made a terrible tactical blunder. I said fine, but when I host I would like to get Hal Lindsay along. He knew that I had been trying to get Hal on, (Hal had never been on any major tonight show - a guy that sold 14 to 15 million books), so he knew who I was talking about. That was the last time I heard about hosting the "Tonight Show". I just wanted to interview Hal, as a successful author who has written some huge best seller books, and talk about his theory that the end of the world is just around the corner. But no, that sounds too religious to them, so as a result it has been about two years since they have said anything at all about my hosting the "Tonight Show". I realise that if I hadn't said that about Hal Lindsay, then I probably would have been on, and after they had engaged me to host, then I could have said I would like to have as a guest Hal Lindsay on that list but they told me he was not available. I found out later he was, but they consider him freaky and they do not want anything overtly religious on the programme. It sure is not easy.

DG: Talking about the business side of things: with the Christian set up like Word Records and RCA and now the MCA thing, do you think Christians going through Christian channels is the best way to go, or do you think Christians should attempt to go through the secular channels?

PB: Both, in every way.

DG: Well, the whole Christian music scene seems to be in a Christian box and outside that, people are not hearing it.

PB: Yes I know, and that's so frustrating to me. When l started Lamb and Lion Records I had two albums. I had no way of distributing them, so I said to Jimmy Owens, "Let's go in and do it. - I want to do two albums and maybe Word Records could be the distributor, I don't know who, but I would pay for it, and I want to do exactly what I feel I should do." One was "Golden Hymns" just traditional old hymns done in the traditional way, and the other was "New Songs Of The Jesus People", and that started Lamb and Lion Records. Word Records took them both and they told me later they weren't really interested in the `Jesus People' one at all (that was about 1971), but they wanted the traditional songs. To their amusement they sold identically well. "New Songs Of The Jesus People" I think, has finally passed the "Golden Hymns" album, and yet I have done another album with much more updated songs, and songs written by Larry Norman and Randy Matthews and nothing much happened with that album.

I really don't know why, because it was the best contemporary gospel album I have done. Buck Herring produced, Michael Omartian arranged, good songs, and I felt like I did some of my best singing, but either it'll come out at the wrong time or got no promotion, or what really gave me pause was that maybe I had passed the time when young Christians would accept me singing that kind of song. I have already had to face that as far as pop music is concerned. I cannot sing a Beach Boys kind of song, or even some of the Billy Joel or other kind of pop songs because they may imply `young love' that is unbelievable for me, and so I realise I have got to find songs that people can identify with me, and believe, and while I love all these songs that I have done, these contemporary Jesus Music things, and feel them deeply and really get into them and really do a good job, then if it is just not believable for me I have got to let that go.

I feel that Evie is doing a great thing and for that matter George Beverley Shea and anybody who is doing any Christian music and reaching any kind of market, but the prime need, the largest need, is for people like Dan Peek and Bob Dylan and Cliff Richard. I would like to be in the group and I'm praying that I can be. We need to get out there in Top 40 radio where the millions are, who really do not care what the words are about, if they like the music. I think it has already been proven that it's the D.J.'s and the record companies who are uncomfortable about the lyrics, the kids don't care, they didn't care when George Harrison was singing Hari Krishna. That was not in their frame of reference at all but they liked the music, and I don't think they care if it is about Jesus, but the D.J.s find that difficult to handle on the radio and they would rather not mess with it. I have had to laugh when certain songs have come through anyway like "Jesus Christ Superstar".

Our Top 40 D.J.s all try to be risqué comedians on the air, and they want to slip 'I into all kinds of double entendres and ', be really hip, and indicate maybe that ' they are smoking pot and that it is alright with them, and whatever the kids want they want, and they appear to be very knowledgeable about pot and make jokes about it. It is hard to do that after "Jesus Christ Superstar" or after "O Happy Day", or "Amazing Grace". They might not have trouble with `All Things Are Possible", because they might not understand what Dan Peek's singing about. Bob Dylan has been amazing to me. They don't make jokes about it at all, after the cuts that I have heard here and in the U.S.
There is something so powerful about the name of Jesus.

I listened to a Randy Newman album yesterday. I taped it and brought it along because Randy's a friend of mine, his father is our doctor, has been our family doctor for twenty years. I knew Randy when he was just a little kid in school. When he started writing songs he used to bring them to me and I liked them. His dad asked me to listen to a couple of Randy's songs, in fact I think I may have been the first person to record a Randy Newman song. He would have worked for us as a writer, we would have been publishing all of his material, except he wanted $150 to $200 per month salary, and my manager would not hear of it because he was just a kid in school, so for the sake of that he passed up all these songs. But just as well, because unless I could have influenced him, and I think I could have, we couldn't have used it. I love Randy, but what I ' am saying is listen to his music. He refers to Jesus and God so much, but very cynically because he can't get into a frame where he can understand it, the seeming injustice and the contradictions ... but he mentions Jesus so much and Jesus Christ ... in one of his songs a guy that has just discovered that he has some terrible problem says "Holy Jesus", and it will give you goose bumps! James Taylor sang "Look down upon me Jesus", and it was not a Christian song at all, but the kids associate that with some kind of deep gut level feeling and they love it. They don't mind it. So somehow we have to preserve his own image, and the record people who really would rather nor have to cope with it, but they are starting to realise that this music is coming on and that is why MCA has said "Let's see if we can capitalise on it some way".

Their intentions are totally profit motivated, but at least they have had the sense of hiring a couple of Christians, in fact, three. One is Charlie Shaw, to set up their distribution and promotion, and Charlie has had a great deal of secular experience, then he worked for Word for a while then went into ministry with `Church on the Way'. With that background Doug and Chris recommended him to MCA as a guy who could have great rapport with the Christian market, and also to help them set up the secular outlets. I talked to Chris and Doug and said, "Look, you are right out there in the nose cone of the missile, and you are going to have a lot of problems. You are going to have to be committed and if you are going to be successful you are really going L'o have to stay committed, in prayer, and keep your own spirits clean totally, because the prince of the power of the air is not going to take this invasion placidly. He will discredit it and fight it and defeat it in any way he can."

DG: I have heard that because you are doing the secular clubs in Sydney and not doing `Christian' concerts, people are having difficulty in coming to terms with that.

PB: They may forget that last time I was here it was for the Festival of Light. I think we still hold a record for the Sydney Opera House, we filled it four times, four successive nights. It went really well. Some of the singers came to see me the other night in South Sydney from Castle Hill. But what people forget is that I make my living as an entertainer, and the same if I was selling insurance. I came here once on purely real estate business.

DG: I was going to ask you about Church on the Way. It seems to be a fairly music-oriented church with a lot of musicians fellowshipping there. How is the church run? What is the set up?

PB: Well, we have been there, Shirley and I and our family, since there were forty five to fifty people, and now it is over 8,000, and we never have any kind of membership drives, we just worship. The minister and people keep bringing other people, and it's the minister Jack Hayford. I am one of the elders and the last time we had the elders and their wives in our home, there were about seventy five elders, now I would imagine it is over one hundred elders and quite a staff.

More and more of the arrangement and responsibility is delegated. It is a big church, but the great thing is that we have not lost sight of the necessity to have small group experience because that is where we started. So the congregation is divided into about three hundred small groups. I was glad to hear that Christian Life Centre is doing something like this now. We meet one Sunday a month, so that each of the small groups does not come to Sunday worship, we meet in the home of whoever the head of that group is. So far that one Sunday a month we are just part of another little group - twenty, thirty, forty people.

We still invite people, and new people, but the nucleus; the main group, is just this small number of people, so that when you come back into the large group again for one of the four Sunday morning services, there is still a strong, deep sense of your identity with that fellowship. You are not just a face in the crowd, you are part of it. You look around and see other people in you own little group filtered through the larger congregation. The Church is there to do big things and think big and say, "We can affect the nation, we can affect the world." We meet every Wednesday night at 7.14 because the whole meeting is geared to II Chronicles 7.14, "If my people will humble themselves and pray...", and we do. We get on our knees and maybe spend thirty or forty minutes on our knees, as just part of the service, praying for our leaders, nationally and locally, about international situations, about major problems; then we spend 20 minutes coming against principalities and powers in a specific area, or storming hell on our knees about abortion or about political corruption or about lawlessness and crime.

We believe that when we come together and pray that way, that it has an effect, and that because we are serious about a God who will give us and our little group weapons and means by which we can affect those problems ourselves, that out of that one church have come musicals like "If My People" and "Come Together", "The Witness" and the T.V. specials. We organised a touring group for "If My People" and took it all over the nation in 1976 as our gift to the body and the nation. It cost us something like three to four hundred thousand dollars, but we and our congregation gave it and got very little help from anybody else. We just felt like the Lord was giving us the opportunity to go out and have a prophetic voice in the nation, and of course that spread around the world through these musicals and Barry McGuire and Second Chapter of Acts.

DG: I remember making a note when "If My People" came out, that it wasn't long after you had a change of government in America; that really twigged with me.

PB: That's right, and we got an avowed Christian there in the Office, and I really hurt for Jimmy Carter. I got off on the wrong foot with him.

DG: You were saying earlier that you heard from him.

PB: Yes. Because I went down into Georgia and I knew he was a Christian, and I didn't have any doubt about that, but I was saying we have a choice in this election between (you see I was supporting Ronald Reagan at first) a Christian governor, a Christian congressman or a Christian statesman. I was classing Ronald Reagan as a Christian statesman, Gerald Ford as a congressman and Carter as a governor, and that's fabulous. So Reagan wasn't nominated and then, being a Republican, I began to campaign actively for God, and they asked me to come down to Atlanta to do a big fund-raising dinner, and I got carried away.

I did three or four tasteless jokes about Carter. Well, in that room, it was O.K., for all these people who had paid $500 a plate. But I didn't know there was a reporter from the Atlanta Constitution standing in back against the wall, and it was on the front page of the Atlanta Constitution, the main paper, the next day, and of course right in Jimmy Carter's hands. There'd been something else in People magazine, in which I'd been quoted as referring to Jimmy Carter as a Christian McGovern who was ultra-liberal and would give the country away. So I dropped Jimmy Carter a note saying, "In case you ever read this, I did not say that." Well, I got a note back thanking me, saying, "Look, I understand about being misquoted and all that." It was a very nice note accepting my apology - but then in his own handwriting: "I just saw the Atlanta Constitution. Evidently you are saying some of these things." And he didn't sign Jimmy, just "J" Well, that was before the election. Now I felt lousy, and thought that if the guy's a Christian, maybe I did come on too strong, but I sort of dismissed it.

On the night of the election which showed he was winning, I sent him a telegram saying, "You're my President now and God's spoken with you and God's chosen you and I want you to know that my family and I will pray for you." I didn't hear from that note, I didn't hear a word. Later, Ruth Stapleton, his sister, was in our home and she said, "I didn't know whether to come and see you. Jimmy wouldn't be happy at all for me to be here because on the night of the election, we were all together, and Jimmy made the remark that the thing that hurt him the worst in the whole election campaign was that his Christian brother, Pat Boone. I came down and said those things in Atlanta about him. He said, "He's supposed to be my brother" and I felt very small. I said, "He's right, he's dead right - I'm wrong, and I don't know if it will make any difference but I'll write to him, really apologising, not just asking for his forgiveness but there's a spiritual principle I really feel I need, and he might need to really forgive me, because I was wrong." So I said to her, "Will you take a letter to him?" She said "I normally don't. People are always asking me to take things to jimmy, but since he felt so strongly about this and you feel so strongly, I'll take it." She took my letter to him, in which I said I was wrong and I got caught up in this political game-playing which says anything you do is alright in the name of politics, which it is not. I said things I: knew weren't kind and I knew weren't really right but I felt I was saying it to a partisan crowd, and only they would hear it, but even then it was wrong, and I should have been much more charitable and loving and open towards him as a brother than if he was just another political candidate.

So I was wrong and I asked him to forgive me and said I wanted his forgiveness. Well, I got a note back saying, "No apology was necessary - I understand. Signed "your brother Jimmy". He didn't really say "I forgive you", which I really wanted him to. Later Shirley and I were in Kansas City, and he flew in for something and I met him at the airport, out on the runway, and he was very nice, very cordial, and we shook hands and I said, "I'm glad to have this chance to ask you face to face to forgive me." He said "No apology! You don't have to apologise." I said, "Look I really do. 1 just want you to forgive me. Do you forgive me?" He said "Yes, I forgive you. I'm just glad you said it in Atlanta instead of Detroit or Pittsburg or somewhere." But he said that in Atlanta it really didn't hurt him, except emotionally; it didn't hurt him politically really. So we laughed it off and I feel like things are O.K., although I hear he is the kind of person that finds it very difficult to forget. But I was just dead wrong and I still ask people to pray for him, and we do pray for him in church.

DG: He seems to be having a lot of trouble at the moment.

PB: I really think that he wants to do the right thing. I do think he's getting bad advice from unspiritual people on some crucial issues, and that if he took strong leadership positions on the basis of morality that it would really ring deep in people.

DG: Can we finish with one more question about the direction your music is taking?

PB: My new single ... well it's ludicrous. Side one is a country song, on Warners, called "Midnight" and Shirley does a duet with me. It's a song that was a big hit for her father Red Foley, who was a famous country singer. We felt like it was due for a revival and Warners likes it. They are promoting it as totally country, although they hope it will cross over, it's called "Midnight". The other side is a song that I wanted to go out on MCA under another name. It's a disco thing called "Can You Feel The Love", although when I went to record it was to do "Night and Day". I went in with the top disco producer. I wanted to put the song out under another label and call it TBA, "To Be Announced" and not even have the record company know who the artist was, to just try and get the thing going. I have had to accept that there is a tremendous resistance to me on the radio amongst the D.J.s, because it happens to anybody who has been around more than three or four years but particularly if you have been around twenty years or so. They almost dare you to come up with anything commercial. That's why I want to get Cliff's new record. His "Devil Woman" was a hit in the States but I don't know about this one, "We Don't Talk Anymore", is that what it's called?

DG: Yes, it's getting a lot of airplay in Australia.

PB: Cliff really works at it, in a way I suppose his career is his wife. He must really research material and work at it, and be a lot more dedicated to it than I've ever been, which is another mystery because all my gold record songs, I almost never heard one of them before I went into the studio. I would just walk into the studio and somebody had picked this song from somewhere. I know it was the Lord from the way it happened because I had nothing to do with it. I just walked in and said "How did this song go?" and they said, "Do it like this", and I would run over it three or four times and say "O.K. let's do it!" Tutti Frutti, Friendly Persuasion, (well I had heard Friendly Persuasion), but they all just happened, they came to me and I just did 'em. These days I seem to keep missing just here and there. Anyway; "Night and Day" I had fun with, a roaring good disco record of the great old Cole Porter song. "Can You Feel The Love" is a new song and very commercial. Warners liked it better, but they didn't want to add any new disco artists. So what we have done is we've put out "Midnight" on one side and "Can You Feel The Love", which is an out and out disco song; on the other side and of course Warners will promote it as Pat Boone.

So there goes the idea of being anonymous, which is what I wanted, because I knew I had a much better chance as an unknown that I would as an established artist, but you have to be in the business to understand that. The better known you may be, the worse chance , you have got, unless you happen to be real hot. If I were Rod Stewart or somebody more in tune with the time, morally and every other way, it would be different, but I am such an anachronism that I have got two or three strikes against me anyway. So the new single is "Midnight" which is real country on one side, and this out and out disco thing on the other side. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens, if anything.