Band tour celebrates 50 years of entertainment | News, Sports, Jobs – Minot Daily News

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Sep 18, 2023
Submitted Photo Richard Sterban, Duane Allen and Joe Bonsall, standing left to right, and William Lee Golden, seated, have a long history as the Oak Ridge Boys. They perform in concert at Norsk Hostfest Sept. 28.
The Oak Ridge Boys are inviting Norsk Hostfest guests to help them celebrate 50 years of four-part harmonies and upbeat songs. 
It has been 50 years since the current members of the Oak Ridge Boys came together, and if they have their way, they will be making music for many more years. 
“We love doing what we do, even after all these years,” said Richard Sterban, the group’s bass singer. “We still look forward to every night that we’re on tour, getting on stage, taking our music live to our fans and to our audiences. That has not changed.
The Oak Ridge Boys perform in the Great Hall at Norsk Hostfest Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. They are familiar with the Hostfest stage, having performed on previous occasions.
“I can tell you, we are looking forward to coming back,” Sterban said. “They love the Oak Ridge Boys, and you can tell that when you walk out on stage. The feeling that we get from the fans, the feeling that we get from the audience, is very special.”
That connection with the audience is just one reason the band has persisted for 50 years, Sterban said. Another reason lies within the group itself.
“There’s a special relationship that exists between the four Oak Ridge Boys. We are the best of friends,” Sterban said. “Each guy brings something different to the table, so to speak. But I think that is a big part of our appeal – the fact that we’re all so different, but we work together as a team. I think we realized a long time ago that we needed each other. So we pull together as a team. We’re a true brotherhood, and we’re the best of friends.
“Another factor that keeps us going is the creative process, which we love doing. We love going into the studio and recording new music,” he said.
Under current producer Dave Cobb, the Oak Ridge Boys are making music that puts new life and energy into the group and its shows, Sterban said. Hostfest-goers will hear some of that music but also the past hits that they’ve come to expect in an Oak Ridge Boys show.
“When we come to town, fans can be rest assured that they’re going to hear the songs that they want to hear. You can count on the fact that you’re going to hear me do ‘giddy-up, oom poppa, oom poppa, mau mau.’ It’s definitely going to happen. We’re going to do ‘Elvira,’” Sterban said. 
Hostfest is a stop on the group’s “Our Front Porch Singin’”  tour.
“We found some great songs, some old gospel songs, some old country songs that are familiar, that people can sing along to,” Sterban said. “But Dave Cobb also has a working relationship with some of the new, young hot songwriters in Nashville, and they wrote some brand new songs for the Oak Ridge Boys as well. But I think the common thing about all the songs on this project is the fact they’re all very inspirational in nature. They’re very healing in nature. They are the kind of songs that give people hope.”
Beyond the music, another reason the group has lasted so long is the importance placed on its history, Sterban said. 
Started in Knoxville, Tennessee, as the Georgia Clodhoppers, the band often performed in nearby Oak Ridge, where workers developing the atomic bomb were sequestered. The group changed its name to the Oak Ridge Quartet and became, by the mid-1950s, one of the top-drawing gospel groups in the nation. 
As the group experienced turnover and younger singers joined, the name was changed again to the Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1960s.
Baritone William Lee Golden, whose long beard makes him the most recognizable member, joined in 1965. Lead singer Duane Allen came in 1966. Sterban left performing with Elvis Presley to join the Oak Ridge Boys in 1972, and tenor Joe Bonsall followed in 1973. Except for a stint from 1987 through 1995 without Golden, the makeup of the group has remained steady.
“This year, we are celebrating 50 years of being together. That’s pretty mind boggling,” Sterban said. “We look back and we wonder,’Wow, where have all the 50 years gone?’ But our history, as I said, is important to us, and that keeps us going as well. We don’t want it to end.”
Twelve years ago, Sterban authored a book with Steven Robinson that tells of his musical journey from a boy soprano to performing bass with the Oak Ridge Boys. A lot has happened in these last 12 years, including the induction of the Oak Ridge Boys into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015. 
That is one of the first things that Sterban said needs to be added to a new edition of “From Elvis to Elvira: My Life on Stage,” which Sterban plans to get to work on in the next year.
During the group’s history, the Oak Ridge Boys scored 12 gold, three platinum and one double platinum album–plus one double platinum single–and had more than a dozen national #1 singles and more than 30 Top Ten hits. In addition, the group has packed concert halls and won numerous industry awards.
Its members also have been tireless advocates of charitable and civic causes, many of them supporting children.
Now ranging in age from mid-70s into their 80s, the Boys still perform around 150 dates each year across the United States and Canada.
Sterban said they are realistic enough to know they will eventually need to slow down.
“But we do not plan to retire,” he said. Until God intervenes with a different plan, he said, “We’re going to keep doing it because it’s what we love doing.”
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