Sunday, June 3, 2007

50 years ago: Pat Boone hit #1 with “Love Letters in the Sand”

First posted 3/12/2021.

Love Letters in the Sand

Pat Boone

Writer(s): Nick Kenny, Charles Kenny, J. Fred Coots (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 4, 1957


Peak: 17 US, 110 HP, 16 CB, 17 HR, 12 RB, 2 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 5.35 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Pat Boone made a name for himself in the 1950s recording sanitized versions of R&B hits. While it made him second only to Elvis Presley as the most successful artist of the early part of the rock era, it garnered criticism from people who saw a white artist taking black artists’ songs. Boone saw it differently, saying “There was a definite ceiling on how far they could go. When a white artist came along and sang their songs, they were introduced to audiences they couldn’t get to themselves.” BR1

It was inevitable that with his good looks and popularity, he would eventually be in movies. He was cast as the lead of Bernadine, a movie originally without any songs. Producers, however, realized it would be silly to have Pat Boone in a movie with no music, though, and added Johnny Mercer’s title tune and “Love Letters in the Sand,” a song which Boone had already recorded. BR1

It was Randy Wood, who owned a record store in Gallatin, Tennessee, who was instrumental in getting Boone’s version of the song into the movie and onto the radio. According to Boone, Wood got requests for the song over what Boone says was a ten-year period. Boone’s version sat on the shelf while other songs he’d recorded at the same time were released and became hits. When it was decided to add “Love Letters” to the movie, Wood had Boone record a new version for the soundtrack. Yet another version was recorded for the single release, but Wood decided the original was the best and it was released as the single. BR1

The song dates back as far as 1881. A composition by William D. Hendrickson called “The Spanish Cavalier” served as inspiration for what became “Love Letters in the Sand.” WK The singer reminisces about “an unfaithful girlfriend as he remembers how they used to write each other love letters in the sand.” SF The song was written by J. Fred Coots, who wrote the melody for “Santa Claus Is Coming Town,” with lyricist brothers Nick and Charles Kenny. Ted Black and His Orchestra had the first chart version in 1931. That same year, Gene Austin and Lee Morse also recorded versions. SF Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee also tackled it. BR1 After Boone’s version became popular, Bob Eberly, Bill Haley & His Comets, Leroy Van Dyke, and Andy Williams recorded versions. IN 1967, Vince Hill had a #23 hit with it in the UK. SF


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