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HomeGrown: The Oak Ridge Boys

9:17 PM, May 15, 2012   |    comments
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12 gold, three platinum and one double platinum album, the Oak Ridge Boy's four-part harmony continues to resonate with fans.

"The singing, the harmonies and the music," said William Lee Golden, "Through the years, it's that excitement that keeps us together."

"I never dreamed it would last this long because my dreams were fulfilled decades ago," added Duane Allen.

Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban have shared the spotlight for four decades, but the group actually dates back to World War II.

"They started singing a lot in Knoxville on the "Merry Go Round" radio program," said Allen.

But during weekends, they traveled to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to perform country and gospel music for the men and women working on the atomic bomb.

"They brought they them in so many times that the people started calling them their Oak Ridge Quartet."

The name stuck. After the war, the quartet moved to Nashville and became regulars on the Grand Ole Opry. Over time, they transitioned to the Oak Ridge Boys. The current members all grew up singing and listening to the Oak Ridge Boys music.

"I had all their albums," said Golden.

"I thought they were the coolest, hippest thing in gospel," added Bonsall.

"I had a radio show, working my way through college," said Allen, "that's the first record I played, the Oak Ridge Boys."

One by one, they left their day jobs behind and became Oak Ridge Boys.

Sterban was one of the last to join. He was touring with the Stamps Quartet & Elvis.

"Being around Elvis was really cool, don't get me wrong. My personal aspirations were beyond being a backup singer, so when the chance came to sing with the Oak Ridge Boys, I jumped at it," said Sterban.

They've experienced a great ride together. In their early years, Johnny Cash was a big encourager.

"We kind of became a part of the Johnny Cash family," said Golden.

In 1981, one song made them a household name.

"After 'Elvira' hit, we had a great career up to that point, but for the next three years, we never saw an empty seat in a coliseum," said Bonsall.

"Elvira" topped both Billboard pop and country radio charts.

"It's brought all of us a new home. And, it's still putting a new car in our driveway every once in a while," said Allen.

The Oak Ridge Boys have entertained kings, queens and five U.S. presidents, but hands down, their most thrilling moment was being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

"It was a chilling moment," described Allen. "I was very humbled, very honored."

"After all these years, we're still having fun doing all this," said Sterban. "We love everything about being an Oak Ridge Boy. We have no plans to retire anytime soon."

The Oak Ridge Boys, born all over. HomeGrown in Tennessee.

In 2011, the Oak Ridge Boys recorded a 30th anniversary version of "Elvira" for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Project. And, the group's new country/gospel album, "Back Home Again," is being released Tuesday, May 22nd.

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