Debby Boone knows the flack her father, Pat Boone, received for his performances of songs by black artists — but isn’t shy about defending it.
“I know the whole story, or at least the story as it was told to me,” she told The Post in an exclusive interview. “I know how people see it but I know my dad and I know he was younger than me (and my success) at the time.”
“One of the perspectives that I had and I loosely hold it and what I was told was that at the time he was covering these records these records would not have been released and exposed as the very white versions of my dad., and in some ways he and others like him opened the doors for them to become more widely known.
Pat charted her first No. 1 hit at age 21 with a 1955 cover of the Fats Domino song, “Ain’t That a Shame.” The 87-year-old continued with covers of “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard.
Debby, 65, admits some may view his beliefs as “a very naive perspective – but I know he and Little Richard had conversations. Little Richard had a kind of resentment about it and he and my dad came to a real acceptance together that this was the way it should be.
She had her own huge hit at age 21 with the No. 1 song “You Light Up My Life,” which Boone calls “absolutely heartbreaking.”
“I think because I was young and inexperienced and somewhat scared of success, I probably made choices that weren’t great for a career trajectory, but maybe great choices for a trajectory. of life,” she explained.
“So I don’t look back with regret because I married well,” Boone continued. “I have four fantastic children and four grandchildren and a happy life that might not have been this life had I continued to have an endlessly successful career.”
The Grammy winner married Gabriel Ferrer in 1979, himself from a showbiz family. Her mother was legendary singer Rosemary Clooney and her first cousin is George Clooney.
Boone went on to record country and Christian music, tour in musical theater and has a new re-released album that pays homage to Las Vegas. Titled “Swing This”, it was inspired by Boone’s frequent visits to Sin City when her father was gaming and she got to know the Rat Pack.
She notes that audiences love to hear these stories at concerts, especially anything about board chairman Frank Sinatra.
“I’m talking about having worked with Frank Sinatra and we stayed at his property on the Palm Springs resort,” she said. “He gave me and my husband 10 porcelain cutlery we signed up for and he sent my firstborn a sterling silver mug that said ‘Welcome to this world’.”
Boone is aware that her conservative background may have hurt her chances of continued success in the ’70s.
“I was so clean in 1977, you couldn’t find anyone more girl-next-door, American-pie, almost sweet than me or Marie Osmond,” she explains. “I felt like there wasn’t a lot of tolerance for it. I look back on it and I understand it. I wish I had maybe understood it better because it was frustrating. I I’m married, I’m a Christian, I have values, somehow it makes me unsuitable for playlists.
And she emphasizes that she is not a harsh, judgmental Christian.
“I want to use my talent to spread good things to the world, but I don’t watch anyone else think, ‘You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing,'” she added.