Friday, February 20, 2009

"Love Hurts" Mr. Nice Guy

It happened on this day in 1997.

An all-American legend found himself thrown to the wolves by members of his own team.

Dropped from the network for having the audacity to go "outside the box" and poke a little fun at himself.

No matter how much equity he had accumulated through a career that included selling 45 million records, starring in a dozen Hollywood movies and being a Gospel Hall-of-Famer; this singer with the leading man looks and old-fashioned values was thrown under the bus faster than a Kirk Hammett guitar solo when he dared to record a big band rendition of heavy metal covers. To make matters worse, he accepted an invitation from the heathenous Dick Clark to appear on the American Music Awards, dressed in black leather, sporting tattoos and a dog collar.

Faith No More!

Twelve years ago today, Trinity Broadcasting Network pulled the plug on Pat Boone’s Gospel America show, feeling that the popular Christian activist, writer and preacher had gone too far, releasing "In a Metal Mood - No More Mr. Nice Guy".

With a single stroke, Boone managed to make people who never cared for him - heavy metal fans - gag big time as well as alienate some of his most faithful, gospel-loving fans.

Even though it was Pat's first record on the Billboard charts in 35 years, as a re-branding effort, "In a Metal Mood" was a total flop:

The track list also included "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, "Panama" by Van Halen, Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and others as Boone ignited a storm of controversy within the ranks of conservative Christians. But he insisted it was all done at the suggestion of a conductor who challenged Pat to explore the one genre of music he had never recorded previously.

"As I got more acquainted with some of Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I thought, There are some melodies and some meaningful lyrics here. It's not all just all rant and rage. In fact there's a lot of Bible references in heavy metal music—mostly dark, foreboding stuff. So we went to work with Metallica's "Enter Sandman," and we found it was about a guy putting his child to bed and saying his prayers with him!", explained Boone.

About a year later, the hullaballoo died down and many fans accepted Boone's explanation of being a "parody of himself." Trinity Broadcasting then reinstated him, Gospel America was brought back and Pat and his followers were once again climbing the "Stairway to Heaven".

Faith Restored.

It takes 50,000 watts of courage to put your personal image and professional career on the line for what was essentially a gag - and not a serious re-brand by any stretch. But the experience also gave Pat Boone some insight that he may not have otherwise picked up on."I had been harshly critical of the metal scene, but when I began to identify with some of the performers and some of the music, I got smeared with the same quick brush of disdain and dismissal I had used. I got judged the way I had judged! We are too quick to judge other people solely on the basis of appearance before we know them or what they're about. It was a tremendous lesson for me. I hope other Christians learn some of the same lessons too".

Sounds like "In a Metal Mood" might have also helped Pat Boone discover who his true friends really were.

The kind of friends who think you are a still a good egg even if you are half-cracked once in a while.

"Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that's a tough call. That's rebellion" ALICE COOPER

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