The Oak Ridge Boys: A Look At 10 Of Their Biggest Hits In the Last 50 Years

The Oak Ridge Boys recently announced their final American Made: Farewell Tour, marking the end of an era that lasted half of a century in country music. The four-man group, made up of Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban, William Lee Golden and Duane Allen, have been together in their current formation for 50 years,

As the Country Music Hall of Fame members say goodbye to their fans all over the country, we are taking a look back at ten of their biggest and most memorable hits in country music.

10. “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”

“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” is from The Oak Ridge Boys’ third country album, The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived. Written by Rodney Crowell and Donivan Cowart, Emmylou Harris was the first to record the song, for her 1978 Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town record. But it’s The Oak Ridge Boys who took the song to the top of the charts, becoming the group’s second No. 1 single at country radio.

9. “Fancy Free”

“Fancy Free,” also known as “I’m Settin’ Fancy Free” or “(I’m Settin’) Fancy Free,” was both a chart-topping single at country radio for The Oak Ridge Boys, but a Top 20 at Adult Contemporary radio as well. Written by Roy August and Jimbeau Hinson, “Fancy Free” was the title track of The Oak Ridge Boys’ fifth studio album. The song followed their mega-hit, “Elvira.”

According to a Facebook post, The Oak Ridge Boys heard “Fancy Free” nine years before they recorded it, but since they were only making gospel music at the time, they chose not to record it. But after recording it at the height of their country music career, when they needed a follow-up to “Elvira,” it was “Fancy Free” that was released next.

8. “Dream On”

“Dream On,” released in 1979, was the second single from The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived. It was The Righteous Brothers who first recorded the song, taking it to the Top 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1974, before The Oak Ridge Boys also had a Top 10 hit with it five years later, this time on the Country chart.

“One of the hardest things in a vocal group with a bass singer is to find a song that is a good lead for the bass singer,” Sterban once explained. “We were able to do that with ‘Dream On’ … I liked the idea. I went into the studio and I did it, and I’ve been singing it on stage every day since. It’s been a pretty good song for us, and I guess there’s not too many bass singers that have a hit record with a song like ‘Dream On,’ but I was fortunate enough to be able to do that.”

7. “No Matter How High”

“No Matter How High” is the second single from The Oak Ridge Boys’ 1989 American Dreams album. Their 17th No. 1 hit, the video featured all four band members with their mothers, in their hometowns.

The song was a big hit for The Oak Ridge Boys, and although they had subsequent hits after “No Matter How High,” the song was their last one to achieve the top spot on the charts.

6. “Trying to Love Two Women”

Sonny Throckmorton wrote “Trying to Love Two Women” by himself. The song was the first single from the group’s fourth studio album, Together. “Trying to Love Two Women” was inspired by an encounter Throckmorton had with a neighbor, who reportedly “confessed that he had been seeing two different women for some time and was afraid his whole plan would backfire. He told Sonny that he feared he might be shot if one of them figured out the situation.”

5. “Come On In”

Few songs show off The Oak Ridge Boys’ signature harmonies like “Come On In.” The song, written by Michael Clark, was the second single from their second album, Room Service, and their fifth Top 10 single at country radio.

The song also marked the closing of one chapter for The Oak Ridge Boys, and the beginning of a new one. The release of “Come On In” was their last release on ABC Records, before signing with MCA Records, where they released 11 records.

4. “American Made”

American Made” might be one of The Oak Ridge Boys’ most beloved songs during their live shows, and with good reason. The song, the title track of their eighth studio album, was released as a single in 1983, and became the group’s seventh No. 1 single.

“It’s hard to believe that ‘American Made” has been going strong for 40 years,” Bonsall said earlier this year. “Every night the audience still sings every word with us. It’s a fun song to sing!”

Bob DiPiero wrote the song with Pat McManus, determined to write another hit after he blew all of the money he earned from Reba McEntire’s “I Can See Forever In Your Eyes.”

“All of a sudden, I got this royalty check, and it was the biggest I’d ever seen, so I just went out and spent it all, which is how ‘American Made’ sort of came about,” DiPiero previously said (via The Boot). “I bought a Sony color TV, I bought a Nikon camera, a video game, and then realized I hadn’t paid my taxes, so [I] thought, ‘I need to write another song.’”

“I guess my process then [was] pretty much the same process [as it is] now, which is: I was and always have tried to be open to any kind of musical stimulus, whether it’s a chord change, a guitar riff, a title, or whether it’s just a concept — an idea for writing the song,” he continued. “There’s no one way for me, there are many different ways, and I think that’s part of why I’ve had this long career, is I’m just always open to picking up whatever’s out there. … ‘American Made’ was one of those that was kind of born out of necessity.”

3. “Thank God for Kids”

The Oak Ridge Boys first released “Thank God for Kids” in 1982, on their first holiday album, appropriately called Christmas, never imagining the impact the song would have on their careers, decades after it was first released.

“There are a number of songs in The Oak Ridge Boys’ repertoire that fans insist on hearing,” Bonsall said. ”One of those is obviously ‘Elvira,’ and another one is ‘Thank God For Kids.’ It is hard to imagine a set list without it. Eddy Raven wrote it and William Lee Golden’s heartfelt rendition always makes for a special moment!”

2. “Bobbie Sue”

“Bobbie Sue” was the title track of The Oak Ridge Boys’ seventh country album. The song, written by Wood Newton along with husband and wife songwriting duo, Dan and Adele Tyler, not only was a No. 1 hit for the group, but landed in the Top 15 on Billboard‘s all-genre Hot 100 chart as well.

“Dan had a little boy at the time, and one of the first words for a baby is ‘ba,’ like ‘bottle,'” Newton told The Boot of the story behind the song. “So his son was saying ‘ba-ba,’ and it sparked this idea to write a song about ‘ba ba ba ba Bobbie Sue.’ … I’d never dreamed that the Oaks would be interested in something like this, but then they released ‘Elvira.’ We finished the demo, and it got pitched to them and just clicked. They were at a perfect place in their career, and they made this wonderful, exciting record.”

1. “Elvira”

If there’s ever been a classic Oak Ridge Boys song, it’s “Elvira.” The song, released in 1981, was the debut single on their Fancy Free album, was written and first recorded by Dallas Frazier, but quickly became a massive hit for The Oak Ridge Boys, and remains a staple in their live shows.

The Oak Ridge Boys had a feeling “Elvira” was special when they first heard it, but they had no idea how special until they performed it live for the first time.

“Right in the middle of our show, we decided to try out some new songs from our new up-and-coming album,” Sterban told Everything Nash. “‘Elvira’ was one of those songs. And when we performed ‘Elvira’ right in the middle of that show, people just went crazy. People stood up, they were cheering, dancing. You could tell it had a special feeling to it. And after the song was over, the applause would not die down. It kept going on and on and on. We had to encore the song three times, right in the middle of the show.

“Then we added it at the end of the show and had to encore there again,” he continued. The rest of that West Coast trip that we were on, we got a very similar reaction. So we realized then that we do have something special on our hands.”