Legendary American musician and actor Pat Boone says he never minded sharing material with his friend American crooner Andy Williams, who died last month at the age of 64. The Academy award-winning song Boone wrote for the 1960 film “Exodus” is no exception.
"I was greatly thrilled when he recorded Exodus, for which I had written the words," singer, actor and writer Pat Boone told Haaretz in an interview from his home in Beverley Hills, California. "And of course he does a superlative job."
Williams died September 26 at his home in Branson, Missouri, following a battle with bladder cancer.
Boone, 78, said he composed the lyrics to the song shortly after the film – an adaptation of the Leon Uris novel about the founding of the State of Israeli starring Paul Newman and produced and directed by Otto Preminger – was released. The film's original score, composed by Ernest Gold and performed by Sinfonia of London, earned an Oscar in 1960 and a Grammy in 1961.
Boone recorded "The Exodus Song," also known as "This Land," in 1960. Williams' rendition was released in 1962. The song, which Boone, a staunch Israel supporter, calls "the second Jewish national anthem," has since been recorded by numerous other artists.
"He owes me on a couple of counts," Boone said of Williams, whom he called "a very good friend."
Boone revealed that Williams' earliest television appearances were as his summer replacement on "The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom," a half-hour variety show that aired on ABC from 1957 to 1960. He also said "Moon River" – Williams' signature song – was first offered to him by composer Henry Mancini in 1961.
"I said at that time like an idiot, 'Boy, Henry Mancini, this is a lovely tune, but it's not a love song. I'm recording love songs, and this one's about a river. So I passed."
It was a break, said Boone, that Williams never forgot.
"He was always grateful to me that I passed up the chance to have been the first guy to record that song," said Boone.