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    The Oak Ridge Boys

    Become fan 3 Comment 1 Rate 1 Like & Share
    Genre:Christian, Gospel
    Rank:797 history »
    Rate:
    5.0/5 from 1 users
    Albums:79
    Songs:164

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1
    2,931 4.2/5
    Angels Watching Over Me lyrics
    Bill & Gloria Gaither & Their Homecoming Friends feat. The Oak Ridge Boys
    2
    5,260 5.0/5
    Daddy Sang Bass lyrics
    3
    9,629 4.5/5
    Jesus Is Coming Soon lyrics
    4New Orleans lyrics
    5Goin' Against the Grain lyrics
    6Heart Of Mine lyrics
    7O Little Town of Bethlehem lyrics
    8True Heart lyrics
    9Oh, Susannah lyrics
    Disney feat. The Oak Ridge Boys
    10Bedtime lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1
    1,102 2.7/5
    20 Gospel Favorites by The Oak Ridge Boys [Benson] [1995]
    2
    4,174
    From the Heart [Spring Hill] [2001]
    3Old Fashioned, Down Home, Quartet Music [Columbia] [1976]
    4The Oak Ridge Boys [Richmond] [1974]
    5At Their Best [1966]
    6Room Service [1978]
    7Sailing Toward Home [Sony Music Special Products] [1974]
    8The Oak Ridge Boys Sing With You [Columbia] [1964]
    9Y'all Come Back Saloon [1977]
    10The Best of the Oak Ridge Boys [Columbia] [1978]

    Biography

    One of the longest-running groups in country music, the
    Oak Ridge Boys started life as a gospel quartet before
    gradually modernizing their style and moving into secular
    country-pop. Yet even at the height of their popularity in the
    late '70s and early '80s — when they were big enough to
    cross over to the pop charts — their sound always remained
    deeply rooted in country gospel harmony. Their existence
    dates all the way back to World War II, circa 1942-1943,
    when a Knoxville, TN, group began performing gospel songs
    in nearby Oak Ridge, the home of an atomic bomb research
    facility. The group's members also performed in a larger
    aggregation called Wally Fowler & the Georgia Clodhoppers,
    which recorded for Capitol. However, lead singer Fowler
    decided to focus on gospel music in 1945.

    Dubbed the Oak Ridge Quartet, the group first appeared at
    the Grand Ole Opry that year and made their first recordings
    in 1947 with a lineup of Fowler, Lon "Deacon" Freeman, Curly
    Kinsey, and Johnny New. Numerous personnel shifts ensued
    over the next few years, particularly in 1949, when the entire
    group split from Fowler; at that point, he hired a completely
    different group, then Bob Weber-led Calvary Quartet, to
    assume the Oak Ridge name. With a core of Fowler and
    Weber, plus a revolving-door cast of supporting vocalists, the
    group became one of the top draws on the Southern gospel
    circuit, continuing up to the end of 1956.

    At that point, Fowler disbanded the quartet and sold the
    name to group member Smitty Gatlin, who organized a new
    lineup in early 1957. In 1961, Gatlin changed their name to
    the Oak Ridge Boys, made them a full-time professional act,
    and started to modernize their sound on record with fuller
    arrangements and elements of country and folk. Future
    mainstay William Lee Golden joined as the group's baritone
    vocalist in 1964, and when Gatlin retired to become a full
    -time minister two years later, the group, acting on Golden's
    recommendation, hired ex-Southernairs singer Duane Allen
    as his replacement on lead vocals. With bass singer Noel Fox
    and tenor singer Willie Wynn, the Oak Ridge Boys continued
    to broaden their appeal by adapting their sound to the times,
    adding a drummer to their backing band and incorporating
    bits of pop and even rock into their country gospel style. As a
    result, they grew into one of the most popular gospel acts of the late '60s, despite purist criticism over their secular
    influences and increasingly long-haired image. They even
    won their first Grammy in 1970 for "Talk About the Good
    Times."

    Fox and Wynn were replaced by Richard Sterban (ex-
    Keystone Quartet) and Philadelphia native Joe Bonsall in 1972
    and 1973, respectively, and this lineup would remain intact for
    the next decade and a half. In 1973, they recorded a single
    with Johnny Cash and the Carter Family called "Praise the
    Lord and Pass the Soup," which brought them their first
    appearance on the country charts. In 1975, they opened a
    series of tour dates for Roy Clark, whose manager was
    highly impressed and encouraged them to try their hands at
    secular country.

    The Oak Ridge Boys signed with Columbia later that year
    but found the initial transition a rough one: They split their
    time between country and gospel, and without a strong
    identity their sales dropped. The resulting financial problems
    nearly forced them to disband, and a discouraged Columbia
    gave up on them after the 1976 single "Family Reunion" barely charted, even though labelmate Paul Simon had taped
    them to sing backup on his hit "Slip Slidin' Away."

    Fortunately, they got another chance with MCA and scored
    a breakout Top Five hit in 1977 with "Y'all Come Back
    Saloon," the title song from their label debut. The follow-
    up, "You're the One," reached number two, and their next
    album, 1978's Room Service, gave them their first number
    one hit in "I'll Be True to You" as well as two more Top Five
    hits in "Cryin' Again" and "Come On In." Thus established as
    country hit makers, the Oak Ridge Boys embarked on a run
    of chart success that would last through the '80s.

    Golden stopped cutting his hair and beard altogether, giving
    the group a hugely recognizable visual signature as well.
    They hit number one again in 1980 with "Trying to Love Two
    Women," but it was the following year that would make them
    a genuine phenomenon. Their recording of "Elvira," an
    obscure, doo wop-style novelty song from the '60s, became a
    major, Grammy-winning crossover smash. Not only did it hit
    number one on the country charts, but it's infectious "oom-
    pop-a-mow-mow" bass vocal hook boosted it into the Top
    Five on the pop charts. It's accompanying album, Fancy Free,
    became their first to top the country charts, not to mention
    their biggest seller ever.

    The title cut of their chart-topping 1982 follow-up, Bobbie
    Sue, also went number one country and nearly made the pop
    Top Ten as well. American Made's title track also topped the
    charts in 1983, as did its follow-up, "Love Song." In early
    1984 Deliver became their third number one country album,
    and they landed two more number one singles that year
    with "Everyday" and "I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt
    Sometimes." 1985 brought three number ones: "Little
    Things," "Make My Life With You," and "Touch a Hand, Make
    a Friend."

    The Oak Ridge Boys' sales began to slow a bit in the latter
    half of the '80s, but they still produced big hits with regularity.
    They hit number one in 1987 ("It Takes a Little Rain," "This
    Crazy Love"), 1988 ("Gonna Take a Lot of River"), and 1990
    ("No Matter How High"), giving them a total of 16 career
    country chart-toppers (and 29 Top Ten hits).

    However, by that point, the group's longtime lineup had
    split — Golden, whose mountain-man appearance was
    increasingly supported by his rugged lifestyle, was given the
    boot in 1987 in an attempt to remake the group's image. He
    was replaced by longtime backing-band guitarist Steve
    Sanders and sued his former bandmates, eventually settling
    out of court. In 1991, the Oak Ridge Boys parted ways with
    MCA and signed with RCA, but after just two albums, it was
    apparent that their commercial prime had passed, and the
    relationship ended.

    The group returned to traditional-style country gospel on
    occasion during the '90s and continued to tour. Meanwhile,
    Sanders' marital problems worsened, causing him to leave
    the group in late 1995; Golden and the other members
    resolved their differences, and he returned at their New
    Year's Eve show that year; they still performed often, notably
    in Branson, MO. Sadly, Sanders shot and killed himself in
    1998. Fox, who moved on to run the group's publishing arm.

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