Oak Ridge Boys to bring Farewell Tour to WNPAC

The Oak Ridge Boys will be performing at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center on March 22. (Courtesy Photo)

The first thing Richard Sterban wants everyone to know about the Oak Ridge Boys’ Farewell Tour is that the band is not about to call it quits.

While it might be called a farewell tour, Sterban, who’s been with the Oak Ridge Boys for over 50 years now, insists that this tour will take a long time to finish up.

The famous country quartet (including Duane Allen, Ben James and William Lee Golden) will be making a stop in the Permian Basin with a show at 7:30 p.m. March 22 at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.

Tickets can be purchased online at tinyurl.com/mptkrzz2.

“We’re looking forward to coming out there,” Sterban said in a phone interview. “I can speak for all the Oak Ridge Boys that we plan to have a great time. We’re looking forward to coming. We want to encourage everyone to come out and celebrate together with us.”

The tour is less of a goodbye and more of a celebration as the band celebrates its 50th anniversary under its current lineup.

“We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary of the four of us being together which is a special milestone,” Sterban said. “That’s a milestone that we’re very proud of. A lot of groups don’t accomplish that and we’re honored to do that. We’re celebrating our 50th and we’ve announced the start a few months ago of our farewell tour. What we would like to do and our reason for doing this tour is go around to as many places as we can go, all over this country and say thank you to our fans. Our fans have allowed us to have a long and great career. There’s no question about it. Some great things have happened to us over the last 50 years and we want to say thank you. We have not announced that we are retiring. We are just going around and saying thank you. That’ll take us a little while. We’ll still be around for a little while, doing what we love to do.”

The original group dates back to World War II when it was known as the Oak Ridge Quartet.

That group would disband in the late 1950s and be reorganized by a different group of singers.

In 1972, Sterban, who had been performing with Elvis Presley, would join the Oak Ridge Boys and the rest would be history.

He talked about the phone call he received from Golden who said the band was in need of a bass singer.

“He said the bass singer for the Oak Ridge boys was leaving and that he wanted to know if I would be interested in taking the job,” Sterban said. “I made a major decision. I left Elvis and joined the Oak Ridge Boys. A lot of people questioned that. People asked me ‘how can you leave Elvis and join the Oak Ridge Boys?’ but I followed my heart. I believed I was doing the right thing. Now, 52 years later, I look back on that decision and I think I made a good decision back then. I never dreamed back then that I would be starting a 50-plus year career. But you never know how things will turn out in your life.”

Over the last 50 years, the group has earned Grammy, Dove, ACM and CMA awards as well as regular appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.

The band was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

“That was a special thing,” Sterban said. “A lot of times, people will ask me about the great things to happen to us over the last 50-plus years and coming at the top of the list has to be being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. There’s no question about it. Even after nine years, it’s difficult for me to find the right words to describe how special that is. When you walk into the rotunda at the hall of fame in Nashville, you’ll find the four faces of the Oak Ridge Boys in bronze. Then, when you look around the room, you’ll see Elvis, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and the list goes on. For the Oak Ridge Boys to be a part of that family is so special and beyond words. If you sing country songs for a living, that’s the greatest honor. It doesn’t get any bigger or better than to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

Coming in a close second would be getting to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

“That is a very similar situation,” Sterban said. “We were inducted into the Opry in 2011 and Little Jimmy Dickens inducted us. That was a special time. Anytime we walk into the Opry now, we feel like we belong. We feel like family. It’s very special.”

There’s no doubt the group is looking forward to coming out to perform in the Odessa-Midland area as Sterban mentioned Odessa’s own Gatlin Brothers.

“We have been to Midland and Odessa on several occasions,” Sterban said. “The first time that we were there, we played with Larry Gatlin of the Gatlin Brothers. They’re good friends of ours. We know them pretty well. We’re looking forward to coming back to Odessa-Midland.”

For more information about the show, go to tinyurl.com/ekkp6cwe.

If you go

  • What: The Oak Ridge Boys.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. March 22.
  • Where: Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center.
  • Where to purchase tickets: tinyurl.com/mptkrzz2