Oak Ridge Boys L-R: Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, and William Lee Golden
For six years I have written freelance articles for the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel newspaper. My editor, Kevin Kilbane, is great to work with. He assigns me interviews with acts coming to the Fort Wayne area.
In 2009 the famed Oak Ridge Boys were scheduled to appear in concert in Fort Wayne. I had the privilege of interviewing Richard Sterban, bass singer of the Oak Ridge Boys, for the article below. He was a pleasure to talk with over the phone and I admit, after following them for nearly three decades, there were some things about Mr. Sterban and the group that I learned. The group that had #1 smash hits like Bobbie Sue, Dream On, Thank God for Kids, and American Made and perhaps biggest of all, Elvira, is still entertaining huge crowds. Long live the Oak Ridge Boys!
“If it wasn’t for this voice, I’d have to get a real job.”
Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys credits his bass voice for his success with one of the most successful musical groups in American history.
At its origins during the 1960s, the quartet of male voices making up the Oak Ridge Boys sang four-part harmonies and gospel music. The group switched to country music a few years later and their popularity soared. During the next three decades, the Oaks, as they are affectionately called by fans, recorded dozens of musical hits, including Elvira.
However, while growing up, Sterban admits his main goal in life was not to be a musician, but a baseball player. “I didn’t possess any athletic ability,” he says, “so I turned to music.”
Thankfully, what Sterban lacked in athletic tendencies, Nature made up with a deep voice. “Over the summer of my seventh grade year my voice dropped an octave,” he says. “I began the summer as a tenor. Three months later, I was a bass.”
Following high school, Sterban continued singing with various vocal groups, joining the Oak Ridge Boys in 1972.
Along the way, the Oaks, made up of various members, most recently Sterban, Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, and William Lee Golden, have picked up multiple Grammy, Dove, and other musical awards.
While each member of the Oak Ridge Boys has surpassed the sixth decade of life, Sterban says neither he nor any other member of the Oaks have any thought of retiring. “We’re not young kids, but I know no one in the group plans to retire anytime soon. We still love what we do and I’m convinced it’s the key to longevity. As long as we keep feeling good and people are willing to spend money to see us, we’ll be out there.”
Reprinted with permission of the News-Sentinel newspaper