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- Posted on Oct 29th 2010 4:30PM by James Sullivan
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"We're going to give the devil a couple of black eyes tonight in Jesus' name." Those were the words of one televangelist at the outset of a debate on the Christian network that hosted Boone's own program. Fellow Christians were up in arms when Boone, the squeaky-clean, white-shoes rock 'n' roller who had major success in the 1950s with purified versions of 'Ain't That a Shame,' 'Tutti Frutti' and other R&B hits, drew renewed attention to his singing career 40 years down the road with an apparently blasphemous album of big-band metal remakes.
"Though I'm a product of the whole rock revolution ... I really hadn't kept up with the directions of rock," he wrote in the liner notes to 'In a Metal Mood.' And he wasn't kidding: The singer freely admitted that he'd never heard 'Smoke on the Water' or Jimi Hendrix before his colleagues made a collection of songs for him to consider.
The idea for the project was conceived in 1987 but didn't see commercial release until a decade later, making 'Metal Mood' one of the longest-gestating hard rock albums this side of 'Chinese Democracy.' In fact, the singer covered Guns N' Roses' 'Paradise City,' as well as 'Stairway to Heaven' and songs by AC/DC, Metallica, Van Halen and his next-door neighbor Ozzy Osbourne. (His swinging take on Ozzy's 'Crazy Train' was eventually used as the theme to MTV's 'The Osbournes.')
The 76-year-old Boone, who released a similarly improbable album of R&B covers a few years ago, was feeling feisty in his early 60s. Dweezil Zappa and the late Ronnie James Dio were two of the many musicians who took part in the 'Metal Mood' sessions. On Dick Clark's recommendation, he appeared at the American Music Awards to promote the album in a dog collar. "I got a bad reputation," sang Boone, a man who once declined to film a love scene with Marilyn Monroe, on Alice Cooper's 'No More Mr. Nice Guy.'
Being a direct descendant of the explorer Daniel Boone might explain his intrepid nature, he said: "It may be in my genes to like to go where no one else has gone before." Just as he once helped introduce sheltered suburbanites to the music of black city kids, this was an opportunity to put a halo on a few headbangers. He quoted the Bible: "A new door of opportunity is opened to me and I have many adversaries."
He was happy to take the criticism, he said, if it meant encouraging new converts. "That's my hope," he wrote in the 'Metal Mood' liner notes, "so party hearty, dude."
Asked the secret of his youthful vitality for a new book on successful seniors, Boone recently replied, "Low-fat milk, lots of exercise and a clear conscience." Hey – we're not sure what it means to have a bustle in your hedgerow, either.