Why Pat Boone Went 'Bad'
His controversial mission to interpret pop culture for cranky Christians.
October 4, 1999
Pat Boone is at it again. His next record, We Are Family, is a spirited collection of R&B favorites that features the singer dueting with an array of soul luminaries, including James Brown, Smokey Robinson, and Sister Sledge. The CD promises to garner some attention—how could Entertainment Weekly and Access Hollywood resist the quintessential white guy crooning "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"?—but the singer knows it will be nothing like the tempest generated by his last outing.
Boone's last album was the cause of the most fascinating event in the history of Christian television. It happened on the Trinity Broadcasting Net work, April 15, 1997, when Boone stood trial for allegedly becoming a hard-rockin' apostate.
While not as legendary as the scandals of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, Boone's TBN inquisition was replete with heady moments of real-life drama. Where else on the tube could you find a fifties teen idol, a blustery Pentecostal media mogul, a revered megachurch minister, a frizzy-haired exBlack Sabbath lead singer, and a vaguely familiar black-movie-star-turned-evangelist all on the same stage, praising Jesus Christ and debating the merits of "secular" rock music?
The bizarre saga had begun two months earlier when Boone, dressed roguishly in a leather vest and studs, showed up on the nationally televised American Music Awards accompanied by his friend, shock-rock icon Alice Cooper. Boone was poking fun at his squeaky-clean image and creating some buzz for Pat Boone in a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, his just-released album of classic heavy-metal songs set to big-band arrangements. He knew people would be surprised by his outrageous appearance (an earring and stick-on tattoos completed the rebel effect). ...