Pat Boone couldn’t help himself as he discussed his early career in show business.
In a telephone interview with the Globe Gazette, the 77-year-old entertainer broke into song.
“You made ... (pause)
“Me cry ... (pause)
“When you said (pause)
“Ain’t that a shame ... ”
He laughed and said, “There are people in the next room so I have to hold it down — but I’ll sing loud in Clear Lake.”
Boone will appear at the Surf Ballroom Saturday night at the culmination of this week’s Winter Dance Party festivities.
“Ain’t That a Shame” was a 1950s song written by Fats Domino, a black performer who, because of racial attitudes at the time, had trouble getting his music played on white-owned radio stations.
Boone recorded the song and it became a hit, helping to open the door for Domino in the music world.
Boone said in those days he was a “cover” pop singer, a white singer performing black music to make it acceptable in white markets.
“I did my own versions of rhythm and blues hits and the black artists appreciated it, I think. We all profited from it,” said Boone.
“I did a song of Little Richard’s, ‘Tutti Frutti,’ and Little Richard said, after that, he could throw down the dish towel. He didn’t have to wash dishes any more to make a living.”
Boone had 13 records that sold more than one million copies but he said he’s hard-pressed to pick a favorite.
“It’s like picking a favorite kid. I have four daughters and 15 grandchildren and I love them all.
“But ‘April Love’ is special to me because it was my first million-seller. And ‘Love Letters in the Sand’ was my biggest seller. When something sells 4½ million, you’d have to make that a favorite, wouldn’t you?”
He also wrote the words to the theme music of the movie “Exodus” — “so that is special to me, too.”
Boone was born in Jacksonville, Fla., but grew up in Nashville, Tenn.
As a high school teenager he participated in a talent show on radio that led to an appearance on “Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour” in which he was the winning contestant. That landed him a spot on “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” show.
His first recorded hit was “Two Hearts, Two Kisses,” which was followed by “Ain’t That a Shame,” the Fats Domino song.
For 200 consecutive weeks Boone had songs that were on the Billboard magazine “Top 40 chart” of hit songs, including 15 in the top 10. “Love Letters in the Sand” was on the charts for 34 consecutive weeks.
Boone has been in 15 movies and many television shows over the years. He is also well known for his Christian values and conservative political views.
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever been to the Surf, so I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m hoping to hook up with some of my contemporaries.”
He said he wasn’t sure about a previous Surf appearance “because in a 55-year career, I’ve been to a lot of places and I just don’t remember all of them.”
His last appearance in North Iowa was in 1991 in performances at North Iowa Area Community College.
He said he’s going to have to be selective in what he sings at the Surf. “They’ve only given me an hour,” he said with a laugh.
Boone said he still loves to perform and has stayed in good health.
“I’ll be 78 in June but I eat healthy foods and I get a lot of exercise,” he said.
“I still play a lot of singles tennis. Sometimes my knees groan — but I don’t sing with my knees.”
• Rockin' the Art of the 50s and 60s in Preview
• Plaque dedication for the Surf being placed on the National Register of Historic Places