Two days before the mini-series “Elvis” aired on CBS, Bill O’Riley did a segment about Elvis Presley on his Fox News Channel show “The O’Riley Factor.” He was most intrigued by the fact that Elvis still earned $40 million a year, twenty-eight years after his death. O’Riley explored why Elvis is the most enduring celebrity in American history with two guests, one of whom was Pat Boone. I half expected Boone to say something derogatory about Elvis. After all, he had been the singer all the Elvis critics wanted the teenage fans to like. He had that squeaky-clean, good-boy image, with the white buck shoes and all.
However, Boone was quite complimentary about Elvis. He said Elvis looked like a Greek god. Boone also explained how Elvis had such a clearly defined image of himself, and stayed within it for so many years. Boone was still being complimentary when he advanced the idea that Elvis had evolved into something of a comic book fantasy image, that he had entered a category with Superman and Batman. Boone made the quote, “ He is now Elvisman.” I like that. ELVISMAN! Well said, Pat Boone.
With Pat Boone still on my mind, I looked him up in several Elvis references to see if there was much connection between the two. Elvis, His Life From A To Z states they were good friends who first crossed paths at a try-out for “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.” They also appeared together in a show in Cleveland in 1955. In the 60’s, Boone sometimes joined in touch football games in Bel Air, CA with Elvis and friends.
One other note on Pat Boone. Despite the fact that he had 38 Top Forty hits, Boone is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The rap against him is that many of his hits were cover versions of songs done better by the original black artists (”Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard for example). Also, that his biggest hits were all ballads. That’s stupid. It didn’t keep the Platters out of the Hall. He will never evolve into PATBOONEMAN, but he deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
© 2005 Philip R Arnold