A review by Tommy Jackson
For two-plus glorious hours, a big crowd at the Oak Ridge Boys Theater seemed oblivious to Obamacare, government shutdowns, Syrian weapons of mass destruction, and any other of the various gloom and doom stories that play nightly in our living rooms. The stark contrast to the above was a concert by America’s ambassadors on behalf of God, country and family at the theater that carries their name in Branson.
The concert was pure magic, but then you knew that going in. As I listened to these wonderful songs, I could see the universal smiles and nods of approval from all across the auditorium. “These are the people these songs are about,” I thought. The songs are the same kind of songs that have been sung around the family piano or else the Sunday afternoon church picnic from generation to generation. The Oak Ridge Boys’ message is the same as getting a warm hug from your grandchild, checking on the elderly neighbor down the street or feeling a lump in your throat and your eyes tearing up when the Colors are presented. It’s a great-grandmother in the nursing home holding the infant that bears her name. It’s the elderly veteran saluting the Flag from his wheelchair. It’s the police officer, firefighter, or soldier sacrificing their own lives in order that others might survive.
This group, which has now been together for more than 40 years, has that rare knack of making the audience feel special and that the performance is aimed right at them. How do the Oaks accomplish such a feat? It’s easy actually, because, to us, an Oak Ridge Boys’ performance is as sincere and genuine as it gets. It’s like a son scoring the winning touchdown for the high school team on Friday night and being cheered by thousands, but at the after church meal on Sunday, he’s just a part of the family. That’s how it is with The Oaks. They’re out front, sure, but to them and to the audiences that understand and love them, they are just a part of the family. Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban could just as easily be sitting by you at the dinner table talking baseball as they are playing for millions the world over. People leave an Oak Ridge Boys show happy. Of course, I don’t mean “happy” that it’s over, but instead “happy” and “content” the way an excellent meal leaves you. It’s a warm, comfortable feeling.
Longtime fans of The Oak Ridge Boys will remember Mark Ellerbee playing drums for the group from 1969-1981. Mark was also a notable songwriter, vocalist, and recording artist. As a vocalist, he popularized the 1970s contemporary Christian hit I Wish We’d All Been Ready. Mark, along with other former members of the Oaks’ band, also recorded several albums, including Rockland Road, released in 1976 and Planet Time, released in 1977.
Our hearts and prayers are extended to Mark's family.
Mark is pictured here (bottom rung/right) on The Oak Ridge Boys Sky High album, released by Columbia Records in 1975.
Click HERE to read Mark's obituary
William Lee Golden recently joined friend and American Idol runner-up Bo Bice in the studio to record a step-out vocal for Bo's new song, Glory Hallelujah. William Lee also filmed a cameo for the song's music video, which can be viewed here:
Glory Hallelujah is included on Bice's new Christian inspirational CD, New Soul Revival.
Legendary award-winning, hit-making group celebrate 24th Anniversary of Christmas Tour
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 16, 2013)– Grammy Award-winning music legends The Oak Ridge Boys will celebrate their 24th Anniversary of their annual Christmas Tour in 2013 with a festive show featuring live performances of holiday classics and their biggest hits. Additionally, Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Joe Bonsall are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of The Oak Ridge Boys. The Oak Ridge Boys came together in 1973, beginning as gospel singers, became a top act in country music and then crossed over to pop with the monster hit “Elvira” in 1981. The song became their fourth No. 1 country hit, reached No. 5 on the pop charts, won the group a Grammy® award and went on to become one of only a handful of singles released out of Nashville ever to go double platinum. The Oak Ridge Boys recently became members of the Grand Ole Opry®.
The Oak Ridge Boys are known for creating a show atmosphere of holiday cheer with their Christmas tour, which consistently receives rave reviews and has become a holiday tradition in its own right since its start 24 years ago. The masterful blends of new and traditional yuletide tunes are enhanced by the powerhouse group’s renowned four-part harmonies.
By John Herndon - The Anderson News
Allen loves the music that brought him to Lawrenceburg before he was a star
August 27, 2013 LOUISVILLE – Duane Allen has only one rule for fans getting his autograph. Be polite. “All they have to do is remember one simple phrase: Be polite,” the country and gospel music legend said last week. “Just be polite. Nobody likes somebody that is rude.” After sitting down with Allen less than two hours before he and his fellow Oak Ridge Boys took the stage at the Kentucky State Fair, I can't imagine him being any other way. I am sure he was the same way the night he touched down in Lawrenceburg 48 years ago. Long before he had performed before presidential audiences and became a household name in country music, Duane Allen sang at the Lawrenceburg Fair. An advertisement in The Anderson News of July 8, 1965 invited readers to hear one of the hottest gospel groups of the day, The Prophets, at the fair the following week. Their newest member was the 22-year-old Texan singing baritone.
Working his way through Texas A&M – Commerce, Allen graduated in January of 1965.
“I got my first offer to sing with The Prophets in April. On my birthday, April 29, I had my first concert with The Prophets,” he says. “I sang with them for a year and that is when we came to Lawrenceburg.”
It would probably be a stretch to say Duane Allen remembers much about that date. But I was there. Allen's blue eyes lit up and a big smile crossed his face when I related to him how I can still remember my aunt, Myrtle Perry, being so excited to see the star of the show, Big Lew, The Prophets' tenor.
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