He helped popularize Little Richard's music. He got top billing in a movie co-starring Shirley Jones. Later in his career, he turned to singing heavy metal.
Early next year, he'll come to Palmetto to headline the 2016 Winter Gospel Music Convention at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Pat Boone has had a varied career in show biz. He was one of the biggest stars in the early days of rock 'n' roll and became a popular star of music and television. (His brief foray into heavy metal was a tongue-in-cheek 1997 album of hard-rock covers.)
Through most of his 60-year career, Boone has been known as a Christian singer. And that's what he'll perform at the Winter Gospel Music Convention, which runs Feb. 1-6.
"We're excited about having him come," said Pastor Bill Bailey, who has headed the event since it began 30 years ago. "With Pat, we have an artist who appeals to almost a timeless age bracket. I had someone tell me they saw him recently on the TV show 'Shark Tank.'"
Boone is by far the biggest mainstream star the Winter Gospel Music Convention has ever featured, Bailey said, although previous headliners such as Sandi Patty in 2014 also had some
Every year, the festival draws lots of the most famous names in gospel music along with big crowds.
"This is the biggest Southern gospel music event in the country in the winter," Bailey said.
Bailey, pastor of Bradenton's Happy Gospel Church, produces gospel music shows all over the country.
When he started the Winter Gospel Music Convention, he wanted to have it in the Bradenton area, but it was too big an event and too small a town. The convention was held in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area until about a decade ago when it moved to Manatee County.
Among other big names this year:
Guy Penrod, former lead singer for the Gaither Vocal Band;
Kingdom Heirs, who have performed several shows a day at Dollywood since 1981;
Goodman Revival, led by Tanya Goodman Sykes, which carries on the traditions of the Happy Goodman Family;
Booth Brothers, a Southern gospel trio that has released more than 20 albums since 1990; and
Jubilee Five, a gospel supergroup that includes the Booth Brothers, Greater Vision and Legacy Five.
Bailey estimates the convention attracts about 20,000 visitors every year, including locals, seasonal visitors, gospel music fans who travel to the Bradenton area specifically for the concerts, and RVers who travel around the country following gospel music events and Bill Bailey festivals in particular.
Last year, Bradenton cardiologist Dr. Gino Sedillo allowed RVs to park on his vacant land across Haben Boulevard from the convention center. All those RVs parked just off U.S. 41 drew attention to the convention center and the gospel music convention, Bailey said.
RVs can park on the property again in 2016. Combined with the mainstream appeal of Boone, this year's convention could be the biggest ever, Bailey said.
Information: 941-756-6942 or go tobillbaileyconcerts.com
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.