The Oak Ridge Boys, Rolling Along

The Oak Ridge Boys, Rolling Along

Oak Ridge Boys

One of the longest-running groups in country music, the Oak Ridge Boys started life as a gospel quartet before gradually modernizing their style and moving into secular country-pop.  Their special brand of country music and vocal harmony have earned them more than 30 Top 10 singles, 12 gold records, three platinum albums and one double platinum album.

Not bad for a bunch of good ol’ boys from humble beginnings.

The four men who are today’s Oak Ridge Boys have performed together for more than 40 years, but the group itself has been around more than 70 years.  Their existence dates all the way back to World War II, circa 1942-1943, when a Knoxville, TN, group began performing gospel songs in nearby Oak Ridge, the home of an atomic bomb research facility.   Through the years, there have been 39 different “Boys.”  Today’s group is made of William Lee Golden (who joined in 1965), Duane Allen (1966), Richard Sterban (1972) and Joe Bonsall (1973).

Oak Ridge Boys

The group’s members were recently named as celebrity spokesmen for the American Legion.  They hope to help raise awareness about the needs of American military veterans and their families. They’ve performed for five US presidents, and are known for their generous support of groups like the Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity and others.

In a recent interview with The American Legion Magazine, Joe Bonsall shared his thoughts about the Oak Ridge Boys’ longevity and their legacy as pioneers of the gospel/country music scene.  The full interview by Jeff Stoffer is available online.

On their values:

 Wholesome, patriotic values aren’t always a script for success in today’s music industry. Why do they work for The Oak Ridge Boys? 

I think a lot of it has to do with our upbringing. All four of us were taught from childhood to tell the truth, to work hard, to honor God and to respect those who have paid the price for our freedoms. I am not really sure what works for other artists. There are many roads to success. But what matters to me is how we do things.

On their legacy:

The current lineup of the band recently celebrated 40 years of performing together and 41 million records sold. How have you held this act together over the years? 

Oak Ridge Boys

I am writing a new book right now on The Oak Ridge Boys that will be released in the spring of 2015, and in the writing I have tried to dig deep and explore this answer.

All of the stock answers are very true. We are living out our dreams. We love what we do. We have never even been able to plan on how to slow down, let alone stop.

But I think the river runs deeper than that. We are a part of history, and none of us wants to see that end. It is in our DNA to keep being The Oak Ridge Boys until God tells us it is time to quit. As long as He provides the health and the good vocals, I say we will sing until we drop.

 

by Donna Giachetti

Donna Giachetti writes frequently for ACT TWO. Her blog posts are available here.

 

 

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