Richard Sterban had an major decision to make. Forty-plus years later, he’s confident he made the right one.
Sterban had been singing with J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, and that group performed with no less than Elvis Presley. Then Sterban got the call from William Lee Golden to join the Oak Ridge Boys.
“I did not hesitate,” Sterban said in a phone interview last week with The Goshen News. “...I felt like the group had a great deal of potential, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
“Not too many people can say they sang with the King of Rock and Roll and then went on to have a bigger and better career with the Oak Ridge Boys,” he later added.
On June 13, the Oaks’ career arc will include a stop in Shipshewana. The country and gospel quartet will perform at the Shipshewana Event Center as part of the Blue Gate Theater concert series.
The origin of the group dates back to the 1940s, when it was known as the Oak Ridge Quartet. Suffice it to say there were membership changes over the decades. Regarding the best-known line-up, Golden joined in 1965, Duane Allen in 1966, Sterban in 1972 and Joe Bonsall in 1973. Sterban said the singers were all fans of the Oaks before they joined and wanted to be part of the group.
“For all four of us, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time when a membership change was made,” he said.
The Oaks have enjoyed considerable success over the years. The group has won Grammy, Dove, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards. Oak Ridge Boys hits include “Elvira,” (Sterban has the distinctive “oom-papa, oom-papa, mau, mau” part), “Bobbie Sue,” “Thank God for Kids,” “American Made” and “I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes.”