The Oak Ridge Boys On Saying Goodbye: ‘It’s Going To Be An Emotional Tour’

The Oak Ridge Boys  are saying goodbye to life on the road, after 50 years together. The four-man group, made up of William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban, announced their American Made: Farewell Tour, coming off the road after five decades together.

“It’s a time of reflecting and there’s a sadness about being able that it’s a farewell tour,” Golden tells Billboard. “But there’s the other side that you feel so blessed because of your singing partners, the people that you’ve been able to travel with and sing with. The accomplishments that we’ve had together is four guys, regardless of our different backgrounds, coming together and we each bring a uniqueness to the group with our contributions.

“It’s exciting to have been able to have survived this many years with the same lineup of singers, and to be able to go out there and thank people,” he continues. “It’s going to be an emotional tour.”

Bonsall became part of The Oak Ridge Boys in 1973, the last member to join the award-winning group. In the years since then, the four men have spent most of their time on the road, together.

“We’ve worked nearly 150 dates a year almost every year,” Bonsall says. “We’ve never booked tours like a lot of groups do — making an album and doing maybe 50 or 60 days to support it. We may tour under a different tour name every year, but it’s really the never-ending tour. We’ve never known how to stop or slow down, for sure. So what we have put a concentrated effort in our thought pattern here in the last year or so into how can we slow it down some, but still keep moving forward.”

Bonsall, at 75, is also the youngest member of The Oak Ridge Boys, with Golden, who is 84, the oldest. The decision to embark on their last tour is not an easy one, and Bonsall makes it clear is not entirely due to their health concerns.

“For the past year, I’ve done our shows [sitting] on a stool,” Bonsall says. “My legs aren’t what they used to be — but I’m still singing good and feeling good, and I’m not in any pain. Richard has had a few small health issues, but he got by them fine. Duane is doing great and [William Lee] Golden, he’s going to be 85 in January and he’s got more energy than all of us put together.”

The Oak Ridge Boys just announced their upcoming dates, but they do hint there may be more — a lot more — that they add before they take their final bow.

“When you’re saying farewell, there’s a lot of people you want to say farewell to,” Golden admits. “It’s all the people that supported you along the way, the ones that called the radio stations, the ones that come and bought tickets to see us sing and sat in the rain with the rest of us while we were able to play and sing music. It’s a lot of emotions, because we as The Oak Ridge Boys are a family. I mean, we spent more time through the years together as a family and we did our own families, basically.”

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