New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
The Country Music
Association announced that The Oak Ridge Boys will become the newest members of the revered Country Music
Hall of Fame. The Oak Ridge Boys (Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban) will be inducted in the "Modern Era Artist" category. Other inductees will include Jim Ed Brown and The Browns and musician Grady Martin.
"Induction into the Country Music
Hall of Fame is the highest honor achievable for a Country Music
artist, songwriter, or industry leader and this year's inductees are all highly deserving," said Sarah
Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer.
"The induction into the Country Music
Hall of Fame is the highest honor I could ever imagine receiving," said Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys. "It still gives me chills when I think about it really happening. I am humbled to the core. I know I speak for the other Boys when I say how grateful and honored we are to be chosen. I have seen tears in the eyes of Richard Sterban only two times. The first was when we were made members of the Grand Ole Opry. The second was when we were informed that we would be among the next inductees into the Country Music
Hall of Fame. Richard LOVES baseball, so, when we were about to depart, he turned around to me and said, 'This is Cooperstown!'"
"We have seen dream after dream come true, and we are thankful and humbled every day. Now this day has come, and it is the biggest thing to ever happen to The Oak Ridge Boys," added Bonsall. "I have no words, and yet I have thousands of words racing through my heart and mind. I am in total awe. The whole paradigm has changed. Four little Boys from Texas, Alabama, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, who dreamed of singing songs in four-part harmony will NOW be in 'The Hall.'"
CMA created the Country Music
Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with Country Music's highest honor.
"We are in the business of celebrating legendary artists, and today we have the privilege of honoring a very special group of legendary artists, the class of 2015 Country Music
Hall of Fame inductees," said Kyle Young, Director
of the Country Music
Hall of Fame and Museum. "These remarkable entertainers - The Oak Ridge Boys; Jim Ed Brown and his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie; and the late, great guitarist Grady Martin
- all represent quality and precision in their music. They exemplify harmony, whether in the blending of their magnificent voices, or in the tightly knit ensemble playing of an accomplished musician."
Era Artist - The Oak Ridge Boys
Few Country Music
groups have had the enduring popularity, cultural significance, or crossover success of The Oak Ridge Boys, a vocal harmony quartet that started out in traditional Country and gospel during World War II and evolved with the times to help popularize and modernize Country Music
far beyond traditional genre and regional lines. The group went through numerous lineup changes in its early decades before Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban took control in the 1960s and early 1970s and turned it into a dynamic Country Music
force. The alignment focused on high-energy vocal harmonies that brought crowds to their feet with increasingly secular music and a look and attitude that more accurately reflected the times, characterized by Golden's still-magnificent flowing beard and fur coats.
The Oaks' contemporary look and increasing focus on modern Country - suggested by Jim Halsey, who would soon become their career manager - didn't sit well with traditionalists, and the group struggled for a few years in the early 1970s. It wasn't until the release of the 1977 album Y'All Come Back Saloon that The Oaks hit the right formula, and when they did, their popularity soared.
They landed their first No. 1, "I'll Be True To You," in 1978, and perhaps just as significantly, Paul Simon
asked the group to sing backup on what would become his hit "Slip Slidin' Away," opening the door to the pop world for the group. Simon
wasn't the only one to lean on their harmony. They accompanied Brenda Lee
on her Grammy Award-nominated "Broken Trust" (1980); George
Jones on his Country smash "Same Ole Me" (1982); and they also have harmonized behind Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Monroe, and Leon Russell among many others.
audiences learned the joy of The Oaks' harmonies when the group's biggest hit, 1981's "Elvira," became a crossover pop smash with bass singer Sterban's unforgettable "oom papa oom papa mau mau" refrain. The song brought them one of their five Grammy Awards, went double Platinum, and helped bring much-needed fun to a genre that had a reputation for weepers and hard times.
The inescapable "Elvira
" propelled The Oaks' 1981 album Fancy Free to double Platinum. They followed a year later with another crossover hit, "Bobbie Sue," and the album of the same title went Gold as have many others in the group's catalogue. Their 1980 and 1984 Greatest Hits albums are Platinum. All in all, the current lineup has scored 17 No. 1 hits, released more than 40 albums, and achieved sales in excess of 41 million units.
The Oaks' classics include "Trying To Love Two Women," "Beautiful You," "Fancy Free," "I Guess It Never Hurts
To Hurt Sometimes," "Make My Life With You," "Touch A Hand, Make A Friend," and "It Takes A Little
Rain (To Make Love Grow)."
The Oak Ridge Boys' "American Made" became a national ad jingle. Their "Thank God For Kids" is considered a Country standard. And their recording of "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight" helped launch the songwriting career of Rodney Crowell.
The group also helped open the doors for Country Music
on network television, with a number of national televised concerts including HBO and PBS specials, and as hosts and performers on primetime. They hosted their own series, "The Oak Ridge Boys Live from Las Vegas" for TNN in the late 1990s.
The quartet is one of the most enduring in music and had a long history and dozens of members before the tenures of Allen (born April 29, 1943 in Taylortown, Texas), Bonsall (born May 18, 1948 in Philadelphia), Golden (born Jan. 12, 1939 in Brewton, Ala.) and Sterban (born April 24, 1943 in Camden, N.J.) began. Founder Wally Fowler started the group in 1943 in Knoxville, Tenn., as The Georgia Clodhoppers. They were hired to perform for the restricted staff and their families at the nearby Oak Ridge nuclear research facility. They appeared there so often, they eventually changed their name to the Oak Ridge Quartet in 1945, the year they began performing on the Grand Ole Opry.
The Oak Ridge Boys - the rebranded group - have received 15 CMA Awards nominations and won two: Vocal Group of the Year in 1978 and Single of the Year in 1981 for "Elvira
" (the group's backing band won CMA Instrumental Group of the Year in 1978 and 1986). The Oaks were inducted into the Gospel Music
Hall of Fame in 2000, and Bonsall and Sterban were inducted into the Philadelphia Music
Alliance Walk of Fame in 1994. Golden received the Alabama Music
Hall of Fame's Life Work Award for Performing Achievement in 1997. And Allen was honored with induction into the Texas
Hall of Fame in 2014.
The Oak Ridge Boys have participated in decades of philanthropic endeavors including Feed the Children, the Boy Scouts of America, and the National
Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.
Founded in 1958, the Country Music
Association was the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. In 1961, CMA created the Country Music
Hall of Fame to recognize artists and industry professionals with Country Music's highest honor. More than 7,400 music industry professionals and companies from around the globe are members of CMA. The organization's objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advance the growth of Country Music
around the world. This is accomplished through CMA's core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; the CMA Music
Festival, which benefits music education and is taped for a three-hour special; and "CMA Country Christmas," featuring Country artists performing original music and Christmas classics for broadcast during the holiday season. All of CMA's television properties will air on the ABC Television network through 2021.