By Gayle Thompson The Boot
The Oak Ridge Boys are among the newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Golden and Richard Sterban are part of an all-star class that also includes Jim Ed Brown and the Browns and the late Grady Martin — an honor that the quartet says is pretty incredible.
“It’s such an overwhelming feeling,” Allen tells The Boot. “It’s an honor, and it’s a humbling experience, all at once. It’s hard to express how that feels.
“We’ve been working a long time,” he continues. “Some people say, ‘Well, I think it should have happened a long time ago,’ but we’re still working 150 days.”
The legendary group is grateful for the honor, even after so many years have passed.
“I just think it came right on time, and I think it’s such a wonderful, wonderful experience for the Oak Ridge Boys,” Allen reflects. “I’m so blessed. I heard Joe say, ‘I’m just glad it happened while we’re alive.’
“I also heard Joe say, ‘I want the Oak Ridge Boys be ambassadors for the Country Music Hall of Fame,’” Allen adds. “We’re out there working. We can sing the praises of the Hall of Fame out there on the road, encouraging people to come.”
All four men cite the upcoming induction as one of the most pivotal moments of their half-century-long career.
“It was 50 years ago this year that I left the farm in South Alabama to move to Nashville to sing and be a part of the Oak Ridge Boys,” Golden told The Boot and other reporters at a recent media event. “It’s been a fantastic journey, and all we can do is keep looking straight ahead. There’s been up the hills and down the valleys …
“We’re honored and certainly humbled …,” Golden continues. “It’s amazing to see the advances that Nashville has made and country music has made and are continuing to make, For us to be a small part of this great family of country music, we’re so honored.”
Adds Bonsall, “It’s been a year of honor for the Oak Ridge Boys. It’s almost like someone said along the way, ‘Wow, the Oaks are still here. Let’s give them an award or something.’ The Country Music Hall of Fame is obviously the big one, and the one that means the most to us, but all year long, just one thing after another.
“We hosted the Congressional Medal of Honor people here in Nashville, and they gave us the Bob Hope Entertainment Award,” he continues, by way of explanation. “That was amazing to be awarded by these guys, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor — the bravest, the best of us. I don’t feel like we’ve ever done enough to get an award from them.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony is set to be held on Oct. 25. The event is not open to the public.