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POP EYE

Has Pat Boone Gone Tutti-Frutti? : His wife may think so, but the clean-cut icon is serious about his 'In a Metal Mood' project. Heavy, man.

February 18, 1996|Steve Hochman

So there you were, driving down the San Diego Freeway and in the car next to you was someone who looked like Pat Boone. But the music coming from his car wasn't a gospel tune or the kind of pop-lite he's best known for. Instead, Boone was cruising along with a Metallica song cranked up loud.

You weren't hallucinating.

Boone, who set the '50s standard for milquetoast rock 'n' roll with his versions of such Little Richard and Fats Domino songs as "Tutti-Frutti" and "Ain't That a Shame," is tapping his white bucks to a lot of hard rock these days. It's all research for his next album project, "Pat Boone in a Metal Mood."

Really.

"It started out as a joke," Boone, 61, says. "I thought it was just a joke at first myself. But then I started thinking maybe there was something to it. So what we're doing is culling through several hundred songs to come up with a dozen or more for the album."

He's not planning to do them in heavy-metal style, though. Instead, he's looking for songs he can interpret in his own smooth manner.

"I'm not going to be able to sing [Guns N' Roses'] 'Paradise City' as well as Axl Rose--and even if I did, who would care?" he says. "I'm looking for songs that will work in a way that will appeal to jazz and adult-contemporary listeners, and yet retain enough of the character of the original that it might be appealing or refreshing, or just something different, for metal fans."

Boone won't say which songs he's picked so far--he fears someone else might grab the idea and beat him to the punch. But he did mention Metallica, Megadeth, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses, Van Halen and Alice Cooper as artists he expects to be represented. (Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" seems like a natural.)

Given his Christian orientation, however, there are many songs that he's eliminating off the top. Among those he's already vetoed due to their sexual nature: "Cum On Feel the Noize" (the Slade song that was an '80s hit for Quiet Riot) and "You Shook Me" (the Willie Dixon blues number done by Led Zeppelin).

Boone's even thinking of having a guest or two from the metal world. He'd love to get Eddie Van Halen to play some guitar and inquiries have already been made to the Guns N' Roses camp about Slash making an appearance.

No deal has been made yet with a record label for the album, though Boone's been in discussions with Rhino Records, which recently released a video of old Boone TV clips. (Rhino publicist David Dorn is serving as Boone's unofficial advisor as to what songs are or are not metal.)

As word of the project has spread, it's gotten a generally positive reception, Boone says--except for one person.

"My wife thinks I'm crazy," he says. "To her, the idea of Pat Boone doing metal is absurd and she says people are laughing at me. Well, it's supposed to be laughed at in the beginning. But if it gets that much attention now, and when it comes out it's actually good, then it won't be ignored. If I just do another pop or country album, that's a yawn."

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