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Oak Ridge Boys

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The Oak Ridge Boys are an American country and gospel vocal quartet. The group was founded in the 1940s as the Oak Ridge Quartet. They became popular in southern Gospels during the 1950s. Their name was changed to the Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1960s, and they remained a gospel group until the mid-1970s when they started crossing over to country music. The lineup has had numerous changes over the years, with one member, Richard Sterban, being part of every incarnation of the group since its founding.

The Oak Ridge Boys have had a long and successful career in both country music and gospel music. They have won multiple Grammy Awards and GMA Dove Awards, and they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Members

The Oak Ridge Boys are composed of four members: Duane Allen, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall, and William Lee Golden.

  • Duane Allen is the group’s lead singer and has been with the Oak Ridge Boys since 1966. He has a rich baritone voice that is well-suited for country and gospel music.
  • Richard Sterban is the group’s bass singer and has been with the Oak Ridge Boys since 1972. He has a deep, resonant voice that adds a lot of depth to the group’s sound.
  • Joe Bonsall is the group’s tenor singer and has been with the Oak Ridge Boys since 1973. He has a high, clear voice that adds a lot of sweetness to the group’s sound.
  • William Lee Golden is the group’s baritone singer and has been with the Oak Ridge Boys since 1964. He has a deep, rich voice that adds a lot of power to the group’s sound.

History

The group was founded in the 1940s by Wally Fowler, Lon “Deacon” Freeman, Curly Kinsey, and Johnny New. They were originally known as the Oak Ridge Quartet. The band later changed its name to the Oak Ridge Boys. The Oak Ridge Boys were originally organized in the 1940s as the Oak Ridge Quartet. Over the years, they have had many different members, but the four current members – Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban – have been together since 1973 and are considered the classic lineup of the group.

The Oak Ridge Boys began their career performing gospel music and released their first album, The Oak Ridge Quartet, with gospel songs in 1958. The group changed its name to the Oak Ridge Boys in 1961 and began performing country music. They soon began incorporating country and pop songs into their repertoire, and by the early 1970s, they had transitioned into a country music group.

The Oak Ridge Boys’ first country music album was “Y’all Come Back Saloon”, which was released on September 2, 1977.  It was produced by Jerry Kennedy and featured the hit single “I’ll Be True to You”, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. The album also included the singles “You’re the One” and “Easy”.

The Oak Ridge Boys’ next album, “Room Service”, was released on May 25, 1978. The album included the singles “Cryin’ Again” and “Come On In”, which both reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

The Oak Ridge Boys’ third country album, “The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived”, was released on March 30, 1979.  The first single, “Sail Away”, was released in April and peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album’s second single, “Dream On”, was released in August and peaked at number seven. The album was ranked fifth on the Top Country Albums.

The Oak Ridge Boys won their second Grammy award in 1971 for Best Gospel Performance (other than soul) for “Talk About the Good Times”. The Oak Ridge Boys’ fourth country album, “American Made”, was released on October 16, 1979. The first single, “I’ll Be True to You”, was released in November and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The album’s second single, “Y’all Come Back Saloon”, was released in February 1980 and peaked at number six. The album was certified platinum

On March 26, 1981, they released their most successful album, Fancy Free. The lead-off single, “Elvira”, reached No. 1 on the country charts and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It won Single of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1982. The album was certified 2× Platinum by RIAA. In 1982, they released their first-holiday album, Christmas. The album included their hit single, Thank God for Kids,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles charts. The album was certified Platinum by RIAA.

On January 20, 1983, they released their third studio album, American Made. The lead-off single, “American Made”, peaked at No. 1 on the Country charts and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It won Single of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards in 1983. The album was certified Platinum by RIAA. On October 20, 1983, they released their fourth studio album, Deliver. The lead-off single, “I Guess it Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes” peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Between 1980 and 1990 the group released a total of 11 studio albums, four of which were certified Gold or higher by the RIAA.

The group continued to find success in the 1990s. On April 9, 1991, they released their album, Unstoppable, which produced two Top 10 singles: “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “Lucky Moon”.

The Oak Ridge Boys have been together for over 40 years and have released over 30 albums.

Awards and Nominations

Academy of Country Music Awards

  • 1978: Top Vocal Group
  • 1981: Single of the Year – “Elvira”

Country Music Association Awards

  • 1978: Instrumental Group of the Year
  • 1978: Vocal Group of the Year
  • 1981: Single of the Year – “Elvira”
  • 1986: Instrumental Group of the Year

GMA Dove Awards

  • 1969: Album of the Year – It’s Happening
  • 1970: Male Group of the Year
  • 1972: Male Group of the Year
  • 1972: Album of the Year – Light
  • 1973: Album of the Year – Street Gospel
  • 2002: Country Album of the Year – From The Heart
  • 2007: Country Song of the Year – “Jonah, Job and Moses”
  • 2010: Long Form Music Video of the Year – A Gospel Journey

Grammy Awards

  • 1971: Best Gospel Performance (other than soul) – “Talk About the Good Times”
  • 1974: Best Gospel Performance (other than soul) – “Baptism of Jesse Taylor”
  • 1977: Best Gospel Performance (other than soul) – “Where the Soul Never Dies”
  • 1978: Best Traditional Gospel Performance – Just a Little Talk with Jesus
  • 1982: Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal – Elvira