CdA man makes rock-solid argument for Pat Boone

March 7, 2006 - Updated: June 30, 9:17 p.m.

This won’t do anything to change North Idaho’s white-bread reputation.

But a retired Coeur d’Alene radio exec is behind a national petition drive to get Pat Boone inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Yep, that Pat Boone – the wholesome crooner who ruled radio waves during the 1950s with syrupy ballads and sanitized covers of songs by black artists such as Fats Domino and Little Richard.

“He was there before Elvis and a bigger star at the start,” says John Rook, whose BackPat.org Web site has collected nearly 5,000 signatures since the campaign began.

It’s unknown whether all the Boone boosting has had an impact on the Cleveland-based Rock Hall.

One thing is certain. Boone’s name is not among the inductees for this year’s ceremonies, which will be held next week in New York.

“If you’re going to have a rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, you’re going to have to have some of the early pioneers of rock music,” says Rook. “Pat Boone was indeed one of those pioneers. He was the first to legitimize rock ‘n’ roll.”

Rook, 69, knows his rock history – but then he should. He lived it.

He is the former owner of Coeur d’Alene’s KCDA, which became K103 when he moved the FM station to Spokane. He later sold the station.

Rook’s radio career took him to powerhouse rock stations in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. He rubbed elbows with such legends as Neil Diamond, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and even Elvis.

Rook has counted Pat Boone a friend since 1960. The idea to get the singer inducted came during a phone call, he says, when Boone confided that not being in the hall is a missing piece in his career.

So Rook went to work. “There’s no doubting it,” he says. “Pat Boone was a rock ‘n’ roll artist.”

As a proud baby boomer, I find it painful typing the words “Pat Boone” and “rock ‘n’ roll” in the same sentence.

But you know what?

In fairness, Rook has a point. What passed for rock was much different back when Boone was America’s idol. He racked up 50-plus hit singles.

But I believe Rook’s strongest Boone argument is inside the Rock Hall itself.

Brenda Lee (best-remembered for her 1960 hit “I’m Sorry”) was inducted in 2002.

Come on. If you can put Brenda Lee in a rock hall of fame, how can there not be room for poor Pat “Love Letters in the Sand” Boone?

And while 2006 inductees include Black Sabbath, Blondie, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Sex Pistols, consider this:

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is going in.

“Miles Davis has never had a hit in the nation’s top 100,” grouses Rook. “That’s how stupid the whole thing is. It’s totally out of line.”

The trouble with arguments like this is that there’s sure to be a fistfight over who’s in and who’s out.

So Rook has come up with an alternative. He wants to create his own Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Rook would throw open the doors to such varied artists as Connie Francis, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Donna Summer, Paul Anka …

Virtually anyone with charted hits would be welcome in Rook’s hall of fame. Plus, he’d put it in the Lake City and pack it with artist memorabilia and gold records. It would make for a huge tourist draw, he says, similar to the Ohio museum and hall of fame.

And not only that: There’d finally be a home for Pat Boone.

“I am bound and determined to establish the Hit Parade Hall of Fame,” vows Rook. “Persistence is the name of the game and I believe in it.”


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