By James Mayfield
Denton Live Spring/Summer 2005
Believe it or not, there was a time in iconic crooner Pat Boone’s life when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a living. Then, in 1954, Boone and his new bride, Shirley Foley, moved from Nashville to Denton so Boone could attend the University of North Texas, then called North Texas State College. ????e reason for the move? “I had heard about the tremendous reputation North Texas had as a music school and had the naive idea that I could become a musician at NTSC, not realizing I would have to pay for any lessons on any instrument,” Boone says.
The pair arrived in a 1950 Chevy that Boone had purchased from his dad, with little in their pockets and their first child on the way.
But with Denton being a musical hotbed even in those days, it didn’t take long for Boone to line up some gigs. His early music endeavors included singing with a band called the Aces. “I also had the unique joy of singing with the Lab Band a few times,” he says.
When asked about his other fond memories of Denton, Boone says he has many. “My fondest memories include the lasting friendships with Shirley Dale and Jim Hampton [two NTSC cheerleaders and performers], Gene Qualls, who went on to become part of the administration at NTSC, the camaraderie with the Kappa Alphas, the very appreciative congregation out in Slidell on Sundays, the Saturday night stage shows, and the acclaim that the student body always gave a ‘local boy.’ Which all culminated after my career took off and I had a few hit records and came back to a big homecoming event as the headliner! That was an unforgettable milestone in my life.”
Today, the singer of such classics as “Love Letters in the Sand,” “Remember You’re Mine,” and “Moody River” lives in Beverly Hills, where he founded his own record label, the Gold Label. In 2004, Boone celebrated 50 years in the music business by releasing “Hopeless Romantic,” a record that served as a tribute to Shirley, his wife of 51 years. He continues to perform 40 to 50 concerts every year, but never forgets the town where he got his start. “I remember my days in Denton at North Texas very, very fondly. And it’s good to know, Thomas Wolfe notwithstanding, you can go home again.”