Our show is always ready to rock, and back in January 1997, some people were surprised to know who else was ready to rock: none other than Pat Boone.
If you weren’t around in his heyday, Pat Boone was a hugely popular singer, known originally for doing wholesome versions of early rock and roll songs – critics said he was standing on the shoulders of musical giants like Little Richard, fans said he was bringing great songs to audiences who might not have heard them otherwise.
Boone would also go on to a successful career singing gospel music.
But by the 1990s, he’d made so many records that he and his band joked that the only thing they hadn’t done was a record of heavy metal songs.
After a while, the conductor of the band thought, maybe the idea wasn’t so bad after all.
Maybe Pat Boone could once again introduce his audience to some great songs they would otherwise miss.
He played some classic hard rock and metal tracks for his boss. Metallica. Hendrix. Deep Purple. AC/DC.
Boone said he’d always ignored the genre because it was so loud, so brash, so much violence in the lyrics.
But as he listened, he liked what he heard: catchy, energetic music.
And he remembered songs like “Mack the Knife,” which proved metal wasn’t the only type of music that could be morbid.
So Boone and his band made a whole album of big band jazz-style covers of hard rock and heavy metal, with a few guest appearances by hard rockers like Ronnie James Dio, and Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore.
Some longtime Pat Boone fans were pretty stunned, and I’m sure a lot of jaws dropped in the metal fanbase too.
And yet the album, called “In A Metal Mood,” became one of Boone’s biggest sellers in decades.
Some of his contemporaries even tried their hand at modern rock, too, from Paul Anka singing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s rendition of “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden.
Pat Boone isn’t someone you’d think of first in the heavy metal demographic, but, of course, music is good at pushing past demographics.
In Finland, where heavy metal is hugely popular, there’s a heavy metal band called Heavisaurus and it’s geared toward kids!
They wear dinosaur costumes and occasionally sing about homework.
I mean, I play the “Paranoid” album for my kids…
Pat Boone (AV Club)