Monday, October 25, 2010

Been There, Done That: Pat Boone and Debby Boone

In 1975, I was still a student at Indiana University in Bloomington when music legend Pat Boone, his wife Shirley, and their four daughters, the Boone Girls, came to do a show at the Auditorium. I bought tickets and was excited to see the legendary Pat Boone in concert. But at that time, no one knew much about daughter Debby.

Her father, Pat had been a part of my entire life, or so it seemed. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Pat sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits and starred in more than 12 Hollywood movies, plus starred in his own television show.

In the 1970s Boone had taken his family on the road, presenting squeaky-clean concerts with a gospel slant. I don’t remember much about the show itself, but I know I had a good time. I also remember that he and Shirley had their daughters with them: Cheryl, Linda Lee, Debby, and Laury.

Two years before her super-hit “You Light Up my Life,” Debby was just one of the girls and Pat himself was still the ticket draw when it came to filling concert halls.

If there is one image that continues to shine about Pat Boone, it’s that he is NICE. And that’s how I viewed him that night, not only during the concert, but afterwards when I found myself backstage to meet him.

I had learned a little bit about meeting celebrities by listening to the Osmond fans I had met a couple of months before, so I decided to see if I could get backstage to meet the Boone family. As most people were leaving the auditorium, I made my way down toward the stage. There were a few others who had gathered toward the left side of the stage as well, autograph books in hand, hoping to get a chance to go backstage.

We waited for quite awhile and the theater was empty except for those of us who stuck around hoping to get backstage, and eventually we got our wish. An usher opened the stage door and welcomed us in. “Just line up along this wall and the family will be out to see you in a few minutes.”

I dug around in my purse and found a tiny little notebook and an ink pen which I got out so I’d be ready, and sure enough, in just a few minutes all four girls stepped into the hallway. They walked by us, saying hello, making small talk, and signing autographs. They still had on the long dresses they wore for the final part of the concerts. It was cool to meet them, but all my focus was on Pat, who I saw coming right behind his wife Shirley.

Shirley signed my paper, using a big swoopy handwriting that some might say showed the confidence she felt about herself. She had likely had experiences like her girls when she was nothing but a child since her own father, Red Foley, was also a famous as a country music star.

Then there was Pat. It was exciting to meet him. His was a face and a voice that I knew, and in my opinion he was more important than even Elvis. Actually, Elvis had been Pat’s opening act when I was a kid! After the meeting, those of us who were in the hallway filed out the backdoor of the auditorium and headed home. I couldn’t wait to get home and call my mom to let her know that I’d met him.

Who knew that just two years later, Debby Boone would be a star on her own, and that I would be singing her hit “You Light Up My Life” and remembering the day I met her, and her father.

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