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    Boone’s metal album controversial; weekly music show on TBN canceled

    Singer Pat Boone’s weekly show was dropped by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) after his appearance at the American Music Awards as a heavy metal rock singer.

    Boone, whose latest album is titled Pat Boone in a Metal Mood – No More Mr. Nice Guy, presented the award for best heavy-metal album. Boone’s album gives a jazz and big-band treatment to heavy metal classics. He wore a black leather vest and pants, fake tattoos, and a studded collar and bracelets to poke fun at the clean-cut “boy next-door” look that made him a national icon in the 1950s.

    The Jan. 27 stunt was part of an effort by the 62-year-old singer to reach a new audience, but may ironically wind up costing him part of his old audience.

    His appearance reportedly sparked thousands of complaints from TBN contributors, leading TBN to suspend airings of his weekly “Gospel America” program. “The decision was based on recent changes in the focus and content of Pat’s music, which represents a different genre than the Gospel and traditional inspirational format and ministry of the ‘Gospel America’ program,” TBN said in a statement. TBN is carried by more than 400 cable systems and TV stations.

    Boone has accepted an invitation to appear as a guest April 15 on TBN’s flagship program, “Praise,” which is hosted by network president Paul Crouch and his wife Jan. Boone will be asked to explain himself to the network’s viewers, and network sources indicate that the singer’s future involvement with TBN may hinge on that explanation.

    Boone’s pastor, Dr. Jack Hayford of the Church on the Way, is expected to accompany him.

    “For Pat and his many supporters, the Trinity Broadcasting Network extends its best wishes for success, and prays for the continued blessings of a life dedicated to serving our Lord and Savior,” the TBN statement concluded. Boone called his appearance at the American Music Awards a “parody,” and reportedly responded, “The little old ladies and folks who contribute to TBN ministries…didn’t get the joke.” He told USA Today, “The sad part is after 30 years or more of public declaration about being a devout Christian, suddenly so many of those folks decided that I totally sold out and were so quick to judge me.”

    Boone joked in a television interview that he has no choice but to be a metal head. “I have a titanium plate in my head after I broke my jaw three years ago,” he told KCAL television.

    “I describe myself as the mid-wife at the birth of rock & roll,” Boone states in a press release about the album. His cleaned-up versions of early classics by Fats Domino and Little Richard helped rock & roll cross over in the pop charts during its riotous birth in the mid-50s. “I was there helping in the delivery room.”

    Boone has carved out a lofty place for himself in the pop history books, scoring 60 chart records and 18 top 10 pop hits, including the chart-toppers “Love Letters Lost in the Sand,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “I Almost Lost My Mind,” and “April Love.” He is the ninth best-selling singles artist of all time and has also made his presence felt in movies (April Love and Journey to the Center of the Earth).

    Forty years after his first hits, his new project on Hip-O Records is once again breaking new musical ground — and again raising a few eyebrows. He’s dipped into the hard rock/heavy metal songbook and has brought his distinctive style to headbangers by Judas Priest, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen and Ozzy Osburn. It’s Pat Boone going from milk to metal, as the singer stretches out on the hard rock classics by Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Dio, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, performing them in a finger-snappy cool big band style, backed by some of the best big band musicians and arrangers in the business.

    Boone said that he avoided songs that didn’t suit his Christian beliefs and surprisingly, only one song, Van Halen’s “Panama” needed a lyrical revision. To the people complaining that he’s abandoned his fans, his publicist has one suggestion: listen to the new sound.

    And despite the controversy, Boone is still welcome as host of a Christian film and television awards program. “In white bucks or black leather, Pat Boone is still the same guy underneath,” said Theodore Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission.

    E.P. News and Staff Reports

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