Based on chart entries and sales, Boone is one of the top recording artists in history, with 60 entries on the US Hot 100, including six that went to #1. Some of his success came from anodyne covers of songs by black artists - Boone's version would often chart higher than the original. Examples:
"Ain't That A Shame"
Fats Domino original: #10
Little Richard original: #17
Most of his hits, however, were of songs that were always innocuous, including "Gee Whittakers!," "Love Letters in the Sand" and "If Dreams Came True."
Despite his astounding success at the dawn of the rock era, Boone was never seriously considered for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The knock is that he appropriated songs by R&B artists, releasing watered-down knock-offs that stifled the genre. Boone claimed that if he didn't cover these songs, many white listeners never would have heard them. "The folks who really like the down and dirty, real and raunchy, original R&B/R&R, are not likely to appreciate my records or the part they played in the whole evolution of music," he wrote in a letter addressing the Rock Hall.
Boone is a committed Christian who avoided scandal his entire career. He remained married to his wife Shirley, his high-school sweetheart whom he wed in 1953.
He is descended (on his father's side) from Daniel Boone, the American pioneer.
He was president of his class at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville, where he played baseball and basketball, ran track, wrote for the school newspaper and acted in school plays. He was also voted "most popular" in the boy category.
He has four daughters:
Cheryl Lynn (Cherry)
Linda Lee (Lindy)
Deborah Ann (Debby)
Laura Gene (Laury)
Debby Boone had a massive hit in 1977 with "You Light Up My Life
Boone attended North Texas State College, but transferred to Columbia University where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1958 with a degree in English.
He wrote about 20 books, many of which doled out advice. Titles include Pray to Win: God Wants You to Succeed, The Care And Feeding Of Parents, and Marriage Game.
In a Songfacts interview
, Boone talked about his sanitized R&B covers. "Little Richard didn't care, because as he said himself - he and Fats Domino - their songs were hits in the rhythm and blues genre, where a huge #1 hit like 'Ain't That a Shame' might sell 150,000. When I recorded their songs, my records of their songs sold 10 times that - and introduced them to the white audiences, or the pop audiences. So, they were grateful for my having recorded their songs. And of course, we became friends, as well."