Last week, organizers of the 14th annual Branson Elvis Festival, originally set for April 1-5, announced new dates, as well as a new schedule of events.
The biggest changes to the festival, now set for July 10-12, include the cancellation of a “Viva Las Vegas” screening, two concerts from Ronnie McDowell and “Memories of Elvis” from Wink and Sandy Martindale, which were to be presented by Up Close Concerts. In addition to those show events, Bob Cannella, Up Close Concerts owner and promoter, was also forced to cancel a May 10 show featuring Pat Boone and Billy Dean.
Once the new dates for the Elvis festival were set, Cannella was able to get Boone, a singer, actor, TV host, producer, songwriter, author, motivational speaker, TV pitchman, radio personality, record company head, TV station owner, sports team owner, family man and humanitarian, to headline a 3 p.m. show Saturday, July 11 called “His Greatest Hits and Memories of Elvis.”
According to Boone, his appearance at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater will be his last Branson show, and maybe even his last show ever.
“I’ve been telling people I’m on my last go-round because I’m 85, I’ll be 86 in June, and I did my last west coast concert a few weeks ago,” Boone said. “I let it be advertised that would be the last time I would appear on the west coast ... and people came from all over to see me, and it seemed to be important to those folks, so I thought I should let people know this will probably be my last concert.
“This may very well be, and I’m being truthful here because I don’t have any more concerts booked after this, my final show. I have a movie booked I hope to do in June ... but after that I have very little of anything booked.”
Throughout his successful recording career, Boone has racked up quite a few stats. From the 1950s on, he sold nearly 50 million records, snagged 38 Top 10 hits, and garnered several gold and platinum records. He is No. 6 among artists with the most consecutive Top 10 hits, No. 10 with the most Top 40 hits and No. 16 on the list of the most No. 1 hits.
Once his recording career reached the stratosphere, and his original teen idol success and his “boy-next-door looks” soon attracted Hollywood’s interest, leading to him starring in 14 “major features, not rock ‘n roll quickies.”
During his silver screen career, Boone co-starred with Ann-Margaret, James Mason, Debby Reynolds and Tony Curtis. In fact, Boone was considered “Elvis Presley’s main competition at this time.” Television also came calling, and Boone became the youngest person to have his own weekly musical variety show, and was an in-demand guest star for other shows, both musical and dramatic.
He also began producing other artists and also branched into gospel music, starting his first label, gospel-based Lamb & Lion Records.
Later in his career, Boone was also fired from his job hosting a TV show, all because he “dabbled with the devil and recorded an album of … heavy metal music.” Boone said it wasn’t just the music, but his appearance on the American Music Awards in black leather and fake tattoos promoting “In A Metal Mood,” which featured heavy metal songs given a “Pat Boone treatment.” The album was a surprise hit, opening Boone up to a whole new generation of fans.
As far as his connection to Presley, not only were they friends, but Presley opened for Boone at a sock hop in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1955. From there, they became great friends.
In addition to sharing tunes and memories of Presley, Boone said since it very well could be his final show, he’s going to cover as much as he can.
“I’ll go over the basics,” Boone said. “I’ll cover my gospel singing, pop singing, movie theme singing, show a few scenes from my movies ... the move to Elvis and play some of his hits my way, and, I can, and probably will, do ‘Smoke on the Water,’ if the people want to hear it.”
Boone also said if this does end up being his final show, he loves the fact it’s at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater, in Branson, paying tribute to Elvis.
“I’ll say when we first met, he opened and I closed, so it’s appropriate that he be a part of my closing show,” Boone said. “And to have it at the Dick Clark Theater, who was a friend and supporter of both of us.”
Look for a full interview with Boone in a future issue of the Branson Tri-Lakes News.