Oak Ridge Boys – Voices
The answer to my first question came the moment Richard Sterban spoke into the phone:Yes, he talks that way, too. Sterban, who has been provided the deep bass voice for The Oak Ridge Boys for the past 42 years, speaks in the same low, resonant tone that put the ”oom-papa-mow-mow” in the band’s crossover hit ”Elvira.”
”Believe it or not, the first singing I ever did was as a boy soprano,” he said from his home in Nashville. ”I was 6 years old and singing at Sunday school. I don’t remember the song, but I remember feeling like I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
”In seventh grade I was still singing tenor, but over the summer before seventh and eighth grades, my voice took a drastic change and the choir teacher had to put me in the bass section.” He’s been there ever since.
Sterban joined The Oak Ridge Boys in 1972. The group’s roots trace back to the early 1940s, but its classic lineup and signature sound began to fall into place when William Lee Golden and Duane Allen came on board in the mid-1960s. The longstanding lineup was set a few years later – Allen singing lead, Golden as the baritone, Joe Bonsall at tenor and Sterban laying down the bass foundation.
Other than a brief perid when Golden temproarily left the group, that quartet has been singing together for more than four decades. ”We love doing what we do,” Sterban said. ”We enjoy getting up on stage. We average about 150 days a year on the road, and we enjoy every night. Over all those years, we have developed a closeness between the four of us – a friendship that is second to none. It’s a brotherhood.”