The Oak Ridge Boys are a country and gospel quartet that have become part of country music history, best known for their crossover hits “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” and “American Made.” The Oak Ridge Boys have a history spanning 40 years of innovating music-making.
The original Oak Ridge Boys lineup (Wally Fowler, Lon “Deacon” Freeman, Curly Kinsey, and Johnny New) got their start in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1940s. They derived their name from the frequent requests for the band to perform for the staff and families who were restricted to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where research for the Manhattan Project was being done. They began making regular appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in 1945. The band made a name for themselves in gospel music with their distinctive four-part harmonies. The Oak Ridge Boys have a long history of constant musical evolution. By the 1960s, they had one of the most innovative sounds in gospel, incorporating rock influences and embracing a youthful image with their long hair and bell bottoms that was unheard of for gospel performers at the time.
In the 70s, the group started leaning more heavily toward a mainstream country sound and continued pushing limits and gaining accolades. They recorded more hits: “I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes,” “I'll be True to You,” “So Fine” and “Heaven Bound.” The Oak Ridge Boys have recorded with a long list of country superstars including Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee, George Jones, and Shooter Jennings. The group has also collected the industry's biggest accolades, with Dove Awards, Grammys, and awards from the CMA and ACM.
The current Oak Ridge Boys lineup is Duane Allen singing lead, Joe Bonsall as tenor, William Lee ad baritone, and Richard Sterban singing bass. They carry on the band's long tradition of energetic live performances and consistently upbeat, positive songs. Their most recent album, 2011's It's Only Natural stayed on country charts for nearly two months. They received new attention from rock fans for their cover of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.” The Oak Ridge Boys play more 150 a year, often appearing at their Oak Ridge Boys Theatre in Branson, Missouri. They were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on August 6, 2011.