BY EDWARD MACK Wide Open Country
It’s been nearly forty years since the Oak Ridge Boys released their first country album, The Y’all Come Back Saloon. Forty years. All that time and William Lee Golden’s beard has only gotten more magnificent and Duane Allen’s outfits more…full of stripes?
Y’all Come Back Saloon marked an important turning point for the Oak Ridge Boys when they released it in 1977. It was their first foray into country music. The band–and its previous iterations with various members– had been playing gospel for more than twenty years, even entertaining WWII troops, before making the switch. The decision to abandon the gospel genre might have had a lot to do with the pushback the band was getting from fans over their long hair and use of a drummer.
But with the release of the single of the same name, the Oak Ridge Boys vaulted up the charts all the way to number three and stayed there for the next decade or two with hits like “Elvira,” “American Made,” “Bobbie Sue” and “Fancy Free.”
The Boys haven’t been idle since. The late 80s and 90s saw a bit of turbulence for the band, with members dealing with personal and professional issues. But the 2000s saw the band’s resurgence as they released several new albums and collaborated with other relevant country acts like Shooter Jennings.
Throughout their illustrious career, the Oak Ridge Boys have won five Grammys and several other awards for best vocal group and best song. They became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 2011 (though the video above is from before that) and are to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this year.
The Oak Ridge Boys have since returned to their roots, releasing a new gospel album earlier this year, Rock of Ages: Hymns and Gospel Favorites. They are currently touring and playing many shows at their own Oak Ridge Boys theater in Branson, MO.
Also check out this version of “Y’all Come Back Saloon” and remember what the boys looked like back in 1978: