Friday, March 16, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-The Oak Ridge Boys
Album:The Definitive Collection
Most fans will be familiar with The Oak Ridge Boys from their 14 number one country hits in the 80s. Elvira was the biggest of those hits in 1981. But the group has been around in some form since the early 40s mostly as a country gospel group. They went in a more secular direction in the 70s. They started out in Knoxville, TN in 1943 as Wally Fowler & The Georgia Clodhoppers. In 1945, Fowler changed the group name to the Oak Ridge Quartet and focused on gospel music. When the other three members left to form their own group in 1949, Fowler hired another group to replace them. In 1957, Fowler sold the name to group member Smitty Gatlin and he eventually changed the name to The Oak Ridge Boys. Things started to change when William Lee Golden joined in 1964. Gatlin quit to become a minister in 1966 and was replaced by Duane Allen. They continued to have success in the gospel market. Bass singer Richard Sterban joined in 1972 from JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet and eventually lead tenor Joe Bonsall joined. He had been in The Keystone Quartet with Sterban and both guys were friends with Allen. At this point the group lineup was the same for the next 15 years. The 1973 single Praise The Lord and Pass the Soup got them a record deal with Columbia. But Columbia did not promote them to the gospel market and those fans will desert acts that they perceive as abandoning them. They left Columbia after three albums. In 1977, The Oak Ridge Boys signed with ABC Records which was soon purchased by MCA. They had their first #1 country hit I'll Be True To You in 1978. They continued to have success in the country market. But in 1981, they blew up with the release of Elvira. It topped the country singles chart but also reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Elvira is a doo wop throwback especially with Sterban's bass riff. Veteran songwriter Dallas Frazier first recorded Elvira in 1966 and Rodney Crowell recorded it in 1978 which is where The Oak Ridge Boys heard it. Frazier also wrote Alley Oop for The Hollywood Argyles. The Oak Ridge Boys continued to have success until William Lee Golden was pushed out because he refused to change his "mountain man" look and he also recorded a 1986 solo album. He sued the group and they settled out of court. He was replaced by Steve Sanders. After three more albums for MCA, they left for RCA. Record company politics forced a move to Liberty. Golden returned to replace Sanders in 1995. In recent years they recorded for the bluegrass label Spring Hill. Their latest CD It's Only Natural was released last year on Cracker Barrell Records. Yes, that's owned by the cheese store. This budget CD is a good selection of their MCA hits. The Oak Ridge Boys continue to tour and perform at their theater in Branson, MO. Here are The Oak Ridge Boys performing Elvira on Barbara Mandrell and The Mandrell Sisters 1981.