The Oak Ridge Boys have been around for a long, long time, but they hope to be around for a lot longer. The Country Music Hall of Fame group, made up of Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen, have been together for 50 years with their current lineup, an even more impressive feat since Bonsall, who was the last to join in 1973, is the youngest at 75 years old, while Golden, the oldest of the group, turned 84 earlier this year.
While The Oak Ridge Boys have certainly earned the right to retire and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation, Bonsall says that isn’t in the cards for them, at least not yet.
“We’re the old guys on the block, but we just don’t know how to slow down,” he 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.”
The Oak Ridge Boys celebrated a milestone anniversary of one of their biggest hits earlier this year. “American Made,” the title track of their eighth studio album, was released 40 years ago. Written by Bob DiPiero and Pat McManus, the song is still a regular in The Oak Ridge Boys’ setlist each night, even after all these years.
“1983, ‘American Made.’ It was a big record, and today people love it,” Bonsall said. “They sing it with us, and it’s a big moment on the show every night.”
The Oak Ridge Boys have made a career out of not only great music, but supporting the military, something Allen said will always be important to them.
“There’s a lot of support right here ..we love our military, and we’ve done a lot of things for the military over the years,” Allen said. “I hope we do more, and we thank you for your service.”
Allen just began his 58th year as part of The Oak Ridge Boys, an anniversary he honored during the group’s recent performance at the Grand Ole Opry.
“I love it,” Allen said. “This was something I dreamed of when I was a little boy, and I used to listen to the radio late at night, after we would get through working in the fields. I was born in Texas. I would listen to the radio. I loved those harmonies. I was fascinated by those harmonies. I would sit and listen and memorize all those parts, just hoping someday one of those groups would call me. We didn’t even have a telephone. Finally, I got that call about 57 years ago, and I just started my 58th year with The Oak Ridge Boys.”
Allen previously spoke about his longevity with The Oak Ridge Boys, and his surprise at how long the group has maintained being a presence in country music.
“When I was going to college, I got a degree and a teacher’s certificate,” he told Forbes. “I taught so that I would have a fallback. Back when I was in school, people were not lasting that long in groups, or in the business, period. I never dreamed it would last this long. I’ve been with the group 57 years in April. We deal with our health problems, no matter what they are, and we have a few issues that men of age have. We’re like old used cars. During COVID-19, I got a lot of things fixed.”
The Oak Ridge Boys are maintaining a busy tour schedule over the next few months. Find their music and a list of all of their upcoming shows at OakRidgeBoys.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Grand Ole Opry / Chris Hollo