In 1955, performers could see the writing on the wall. All of the so-called “Rhythm and Blues” artists such as Fats Domino and Chuck Berry were starting to cross over into the pop world. Fats Domino wrote the song “Ain’t That a Shame” along with Dave Bartholomew (who was a friend of Fats.) It was Fats’ first big hit.
After the song was released, the mainstream producers decided to get in on the action and release a white version. This was common practice in the mid-50’s. So Pat Boone released what I call an urbanized version of the song. It’s the same, just not quite as raw. Pat Boone actually complained that the English wasn’t correct in the title. You can’t say “ain’t” in a song title. He wanted to change it to “Isn’t That a Shame”. I can’t imagine what that would have sounded like, but cooler heads prevailed and the record was released with the original title. Good thing for Pat Boone, as the record went straight to number one on the Billboard Top 100. (It was Pat Boone’s first number one.)
But, the success of Boone’s version brought notice to Fats Domino’s version which peaked at number one on the R&B charts and made it to number ten on the pop charts, his first record to do so. There’s a story that during one of Fats Domino’s concerts, he saw Pat Boone in the audience. He called him up on stage and showed the people a big ring he had on his finger. He told the audience “Pat Boone bought me this ring”.
I have included both versions her so you can hear the difference. Fats is still my favorite.
Fats Domino, live from some movie:
Pat Boone, shortened version:
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