Career Highlights Timeline
1973 – The current lineup—William Lee Golden, Duane Allen, Richard Sterban and Joe Bonsall—come together.
1974 – Johnny Cash helps the Oaks by including them on shows, encouraging them to persevere. Jimmy Dean would also become a mentor for the group the following year.
1975 – The group signs a management contract with Jim Halsey, beginning a 34-year association to date.
1976 – The Oaks take the Country charts by storm with Y’all Come Back Saloon on ABC-Dot Records.
The group also breaks new boundaries for Country music with a 21-day tour of the Soviet Union with Roy Clark. They are the first Country music group to perform in the USSR.
1977 – The Oaks win their first major Country music award, Best Vocal Group from the Academy of Country Music and headline a show at New York City’s renowned Carnegie Hall.
The group produces one of the first Country music videos, for their song, Easy, which is a hit in Australia.
1978 – The Country Music Association bestows its Vocal Group of the Year award on the group.
Paul Simon presents a gold album to the Oaks for their unforgettable backup vocals on his classic hit, Slip Slidin’ Away. Paul Simon and Phil Ramone produced the project.
1979 – The Oaks chalk up another Best Vocal Group award from the Academy of Country Music and wrap up a record breaking, two-year tour with Kenny Rogers.
Three international stops make headlines for the Boys: a command performance for Princess Caroline in Monaco; a show at the historic Opera House at Midem in Cannes, France; and a stellar appearance at the Montreax Jazz Festival.
1980 – The Juke Box Operators of America award their prestigious Country Group of the Year award to the Oak Ridge Boys.
The group co-headlines a show, with Johnny Mathis, at Royal Albert Hall in London, England.
1981 – The Oaks’ single Elvira hits the top of the Country and Pop charts, selling two and a half million singles. Two more awards: the Country Music Association Single of the Year (Elvira), and an American Music Awards Best Country Music Video (Everyday).
1982 – This year brings a Grammy win (the Oaks’ fifth) for Best Vocal Performance by a Country Group or Duo (Elvira) and a one-hour HBO television special.
The American Music Awards bestows the Country Group of the Year, and the Academy of Country Music chooses Elvira as the Single of the Year.
1983 – The National Association for College Activities (NACA) awards the Oaks with the first of three, consecutive Best Major Country Performance awards.
The group performs at the third annual Congressional Barbecue on the lawn of the White House, an honor they will have again in 1989 and 2008. During the course of their career, the group has performed for five presidents, as well as King Gustaf of Sweden, her Royal Highness Princess Caroline of Monaco, and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne of Great Britain.
1984 – The Oak Ridge Boys debut their new single, It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes, on the Tonight Show.
1985 – The Oaks represent all of American music at the grand opening of the Acropolis in Nice, France, donating their performance fee to international relief organization Feed the Children. The money is used to drill four water wells in the Rift Valley, Kenya.
1986 – The group’s headline performance at New York City’s Radio City Music also features The Judds. The show poster includes a rendering of the “Boys” by iconic Broadway caricaturist Al Hirschfeld.
FIDOF (International Federation of Festival Organizations) presents the Oak Ridge Boys with their Award of Excellence in recognition of the Oaks’ numerous international appearances in Belgium, Canada, England, Finland, France, Monaco, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden, Switzerland and West Germany, including MIDEM.
1987 – The group participates for the second time in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, broadcast live on NBC.
1989 – The Oaks hook up with Pillsbury for a national Totino’s Pizza promotion.
1997 – Two distinguished designations are bestowed on the Oaks: The National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse National Voice Award and the American Music Council American Eagle Award.
1998 – TNN posts huge audiences for The Oak Ridge Boys Live from Las Vegas variety show series produced by Sherman Halsey. Guests include contemporary and classic talent from Tim McGraw, Sara Evans and Bill Engvall to the Captain and Tennille and the Fairfield Four.
2000 – The Oak Ridge Boys are inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
2001 – In recognition of their outstanding service to youth, the Boy Scouts of America presents the group with their highest national honor, the Silver Buffalo.
2002 – The group is awarded a Dove from the Gospel Music Association for their From The Heart CD, their first retail Gospel music project in over 25 years.
2003 – The Oak Ridge Boys’ Red, White & BluBlocker® Tour takes the Oaks to 170 cities across the United States and Canada.
2004 – New Leaf Press publishes The Oak Ridge Boys: An American Journey, a group autobiography penned by tenor singer Joe Bonsall, who is a multi-published author.
2005 – The International Talent Buyers Association presents the Oaks with the Living Legend Award.
The Country Music Hall of Fame honors the group with a six-month spotlight exhibit.
2006 – The MENC (National Association for Music Education) bestows the Fame Award on the Oak Ridge Boys for their work as Musical Ambassadors for the three-year National Anthem Project
2007 – The Oak Ridge Boys ride in the lead float in the Rose Bowl Parade, as a part of the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers) American Music Salute campaign (National Anthem Project). They perform for one and a half billion viewers.
American Entertainment Magazine, the official publication for the International Association of Corporate Entertainment Producers, announces the group as their recipients of the Readers Choice Award for Best Music Act of 2007.
The Gospel Music Association bestows the Oaks with their eighth Dove Award, this one for Country Recorded Song of the Year (Jonah, Job and Moses).
2008 – The Academy of Country Music recognizes the Oak Ridge Boys as recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award.
The group continues to perform more than 150 days a year on tour across the United States and Canada, their tour busses jointly receiving over 24 million impressions per year.
The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas tour, a 20-year tradition, sells out halls across the country each year. As well, in 2008, the group’s Feed the Children multiple cable network Christmas television special received over 100 million viewer hits.
2009 – The Oak Ridge Boys continue to prove they are one of the most diverse music groups in American music. In April, they release both a cover of the White Stripes song, Seven Nation Army, to Country radio, and a debut Gaither Gospel Music Homecoming television special.
The Oaks will be featured speakers (The Masters of Reinvention) at the 2009 SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, in March. Additionally, their one-hour performance during the festival will be broadcast live (and on tape throughout the year) by DIRECTV, with 45 million viewers per broadcast.
2010 – Roy August, co-writer of the Oaks’ single Fancy Free (co-written by Jimbeau Hinson), received a “two million spins” award from BMI. As of July 2010, the song had been broadcast over 116,600 hours, equating to more than 13 years of continuous airplay.
Also in July, AOL listed Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys as the “catchiest” song in Country music. The Oaks’ chart topping single beat out several other “catchy” songs, which filled out the AOL Top Ten Catchy Songs in Country list, including Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus, The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, and Undo It by Carrie Underwood.
2011 – The Oaks celebrate the 30th Anniversary of their double platinum selling, Country-Pop smash hit single, Elvira.
The group is inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on August 6, almost 66 years after the Oak Ridge Quartet first started making regular appearances on the Opry.
In September, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® released the Oaks’ It’s Only Natural CD, and the first single, What’cha Gonna Do?, inspired a now-viral music video taped with Internet sensation Keenan Cahill.