It was in 1973 when Joe Bonsall joined The Oak Ridge Boys, unaware that he would be the last new member the group would welcome in for the next 50 years. Neither Bonsall nor William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban or Duane Allen would have been able to predict the group’s massive success, which continues today, with no signs of slowing down.
“I was 25 years old in 1973 when I joined The Oak Ridge Boys,” Bonsall says. “I am 75 years old in 2023 and I am STILL an Oak Ridge Boy. It has been and still IS an amazing ride.”
Golden has been with The Oak Ridge Boys the longest, joining the quartet in 1965, more than a decade before they switched from Southern Gospel music to country music.
“The history of The Oak Ridge Boys runs deep in America’s history,” Golden says. “I am honored to still be a part of it. We are a family and always will be.”
Allen joined one year after Golden, and is just as excited about being part of The Oak Ridge Boys as the day he joined the group.
“To be anywhere with anyone for 50 years is an accomplishment, and we are celebrating!!” Allen says. “Come out to one of our shows and sing along with us!”
Sterban joined one year before Bonsall, in 1972, leaving his job with J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, as part of Elvis Presley’s band to join The Oak Ridge Boys.
“It has been an honor to sing with Duane, Joe, and William Lee,” Sterban says. “We have been extremely blessed. I have had an extraordinary life, and I am thankful to the Lord above.”
For some, it may have been daunting to leave a job with Presley to join The Oak Ridge Boys, but for Sterban, the decision couldn’t have been easier.
“While I was with Elvis, apparently on top of the world, one day I got a phone call from William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys,” Sterban recalls to Everything Nash. “He’s the guy in our group, as you probably know, with the long beard. He’s probably the most recognizable member of the Oak Ridge Boys back then. He did not have that long beard. He was Mr. GQ back then, but he called me and he said that the bass singer in the Oak Ridge Boys was leaving, and the Oak Ridge Boys wanted to know if I would be interested in taking the job.
“So here I was apparently on top of the world singing with Elvis, but I had to make a decision,” he continues. “And I had to admit, at the same time, I was a big fan of the Oak Ridge Boys. I loved the music that they were making, and I collected their records. I felt like the group had a great deal of potential and I really wanted to be a part of it.”
The Oak Ridge Boys are continuing on their Front Porch Singin’ Tour this year, with plans to spend as much time on the road, and in front of their fans, as possible, for as long as possible.
“We’re the old guys on the block, but we just don’t know how to slow down,” Bonsall recently told Fox 13. “The Oak Ridge Boys sing. That’s what we do. And we’ve been able to plan every aspect of everything we do. Except we’ve never been able to plan how to slow down, let alone stop.”
Find all of The Oak Ridge Boys’ music and a list of all of their upcoming shows at OakRidgeBoys.com.
Photo Credit: Brandon Wood / Indie Bling Studios