Debby Boone defends dad Pat Boone’s white covers of R&B songs



Debby Boone knows the flack her dad, Pat Boone, has received over his renditions of songs by black artists — but is quick to defend him.

“I know the full story of it, or at least the story as I’ve been told,” she told The Post in an exclusive interview. “I know how people look at it but I know my dad and I know that he was younger than me (and my success) at the time.”

“One of the perspectives I’ve had and I hold it loosely and what I’ve been told is at the time he was covering those records, those records would not have gotten the airplay and exposure that my dad’s very white versions of them did, and in some ways, he and others like him opened the doors to them becoming more widely known.”

Pat charted his first No. 1 hit at 21 with with a 1955 cover of the Fats Domino song, “Ain’t That a Shame.” The now 87-year-old followed that up with covers of “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally,” by Little Richard.

Debby’s father is successful singer Pat Boone, 87.Getty ImagesDebby, 65, admits that some may view her beliefs as “a very naive perspective — but I do know he and Little Richard had conversations. Little Richard had some sort of resentment over it and he and my dad came to a real acceptance together that it had been the way that it needed to be.”

She had her own huge success at age 21 with the No. 1 song “You Light Up My Life,” which Boone calls “absolutely life-changing.”

“I think because I was young and inexperienced and somewhat frightened by the success I probably made choices that weren’t great ones for a career trajectory but maybe great ones for a life trajectory,” she explained.

“So I don’t look back with regret because I married well,” Boone continued. “I have four fantastic kids and four grandkids and a happy life that may not have been this life if I’d gone on to have some unending successful career.”

Boone’s mother-in-law (middle) was singer Rosemary Clooney.WireImageBoone when she was a presenter on “The 22nd Annual Grammy Awards” broadcast on Feb. 27, 1980 from Los Angeles on the CBS Television Network.CBS via Getty ImagesThe Grammy winner married Gabriel Ferrer in 1979, who himself comes from a showbiz family. His mom was legendary singer Rosemary Clooney and his first cousin is George Clooney.

Boone went on to record country and Christian music, tour in musical theater and has a new reissued album that pays homage to Las Vegas. Entitled “Swing This,” it was inspired by Boone’s frequent visits to Sin City when her dad was performing and she became acquainted with the Rat Pack.

She notes that audiences love to hear these stories during concerts, especially anything to do with the Chairman of the Board — Frank Sinatra.

Boone has been married to Gabriel Ferrer for 32 years.Getty Images“I talk about having worked with Frank Sinatra and we stayed at his property on the compound in Palm Springs,” she said. “He gave me and my husband the gift of 10 place settings of the china that we had registered for and he sent my firstborn a sterling silver cup that said, ‘Welcome to this world.’”

Boone is aware that her conservative background may have hurt her chances of continued success in the ’70s.

“I was just so squeaky clean in 1977, you couldn’t find anyone more girl-next-door, American pie, almost saccharine sweet than me or Marie Osmond,” she explains. “It felt like there was not much tolerance for it. I look back on it and I understand it. I wish I had maybe understood it more then because it was frustrating. I’m married, I’m Christian, I have values, somehow that makes me not fit for playlists.”

And she stresses that she’s not a stern judgmental Christian.

“I do want to use my talent to put good things out there in the world, but I’m not looking at anyone else thinking, ‘You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing,’” she added.

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