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Oak Ridge Boys to play in Lawton

In 1972, Richard Sterban recieved a lot of questions when he quit singing backup for Elvis Presley to sing with the Oak Ridge Boys.

Sterban, bass singer, was touring with J. D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, which, at the time, were singing backup for the King of rock-n-roll. He recieved a call from William Lee Golden, baritone for the Oak Ridge Boys, asking if he would like to join their quartet as its bass singer. Sterban took the job and for 44 years he has sung with the Oak Ridge Boys, which is still recording and touring and will make a stop in Lawton on Thursday at the Apache Casino Hotel.

"It was a great experience to be able to sing with Elvis," Sterban said. "... Even though I was singing with Elvis, I took the job because I felt like the Oak Ridge Boys had a great deal of potential. And I was a fan of the group and I wanted to be a part of the group, so I took the job. A lot of people questioned my decision, 'How could you leave Elvis and join the Oak Ridge Boys?' But I felt like I was doing the right thing. And I think history has proven that I made a pretty good move right there."

The current Oak Ridge Boys quartet has been singing together for 43 years, but the group itself was founded in the 1940s as an American country and gospel vocal quartet. The quartet is made up of Duane Allen (lead), Joe Bonsall (tenor), Golden (baritone) and Sterban (bass). Sterban said what has kept this group going strong for 43 years is they simply love what they do.

"We look forward every night, when we're on the road, taking our music live on stage for our fans and audiences," Sterban said. "That has not changed over the years. We're still having fun doing this, and I think that's important."

He also believes the reason why the quartet has sustained over the last four decades is that the members are the best of friends.

"There's a special relationship between the four of us that exists," Sterban said. "... Each guy in the group is different, each guy brings something different to the table. That's part of our appeal, the fact that we're all so different. We respect that between the four of us and I think we all realized a long time ago that we need each other, so we pull together as a team. And we're really a true brotherhood, and I think that's a key factor in our success."

In total, the Oak Ridge Boys have 31 studio albums, 63 singles and 17 No. 1 singles. Sterban said another key factor for the Oak Ridge Boys' longevity is the quartet enjoys the creative process of going into the studio and recording new music.

"New music adds new life and new energy to us and our shows, and that keeps us going as well," Sterban said.

According to Sterban, in July, the quartet has tentative recording dates scheduled with Grammy-award winning record producer David Cobb in Nashville. Back in 2009, the Oak Ridge Boys worked with Cobb on their record "The Boys Are Back," which Sterban said took the quartet down musical roads they had never been down before.

"So it's going to be interesting where he's going to take us on this new project," Sterban said. "So we're basically going to do what we did the last time and put ourselves in his hands and have him lead us and guide us. It'll be interesting to see how we go and where we end up musically on this project coming up."

At the time of the interview, Sterban did not have any official information about a title for the Oak Ridge Boys' next project.

In 2015, the Oak Ridge Boys hit a milestone with their career by being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. And Sterban described the honor as the greatest thing that has ever happened to the Oak Ridge Boys. And Sterban never thought his name would be in the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside Elvis  the rock-n-roll legend he used to sing backup for.

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