Everyone remembers the old commercials about the Energizer Bunny. This blog is about the Energizer Oaks. Oak Ridge Boys, that is.
Recently, I drove from Yuma, AZ to Laughlin, NV to see my friends the Oak Ridge Boys perform at the Riverside Casino. It’s an annual gig for them. They did something like 13 shows in 10 days.
About 15 years ago the OAK’s tenor singer Joe Bonsall, did an interview on my Bluegrass radio show, Believers Bluegrass. We struck up a friendship from that interview and have stayed in touch since then.
When I texted Joe and told him I was coming to see them in Laughlin, he generously left a ticket for me at the box office. The tour manager met me there and promptly ushered me backstage where all four of the OAKS took pictures with me. We had a great visit and I was able to tell them how much the Oak Ridge Boys had meant to my life. I never dreamed I’d ever get to do that. It was a God thing and I’m so thankful I had that opportunity.
I’ve seen the OAKS in concert many times since I was about 8 years old. Every performance is great but this night was special. I sat enthralled as they sang hit after hit. Joe, Duane, William and Richard performed with the energy common to a thirty year old. The truth is however, they are all, with one exception, over 70 years old! William Lee is the exception, he’s 81! As my late friend Grandpa Jones would have said, ” the energizer bunny ain’t nothin’!” They never seem to slow down! They are still performing 150 dates a year with no end in sight. I asked William Lee about it and he said, ” we’re just trying to keep the Oak Ridge Boys name alive!” Let me tell you, they are alive and kickin’!
Vocally they may be a little past their prime because of their age, but the average fan could never tell it. They are still singing great! That Oak Ridge Boy harmony is intact and oh so good!
As I listened and watched, I felt like I did when I was a teenager watching them at the municipal auditorium in San Jose, CA, or the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, MO. That stirring in my soul from the harmony and energy still feels the same.
I have so much respect for their commitment to their craft. Most could not stay on the road and deal with everything road life brings, but the Oak Ridge Boys have, for more than fifty years. It’s an amazing thing to contemplate.
They sang one of their older songs called, Did I Make A Difference? I had just told them in the dressing room how they had made such a difference in my life. When Duane sang that song I got really emotional. Indeed, the Oak Ridge Boys have made a difference. They’ve made the world a better place. They have made my world a better place.
I told Duane Allen how as a kid I used to stand for hours in front of the Hi Fi set and listen to Oak Ridge Boy records. I would listen to every part until I could sing those parts. It’s how I learned to sing harmony! Duane told me he believed me, because he did the same thing when he was a kid!
I was thrilled a couple years ago when they were inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame. And more recently they were added to the Grand Ole Opry family. Worthy rewards for their labors.
If you’ve never seen the OAKS in concert or if it’s been a while since you have, you should make plans to go see them. They will be coming your way soon. They are not slowing down, they are everywhere!
By the way, they have not abandoned their Gospel roots. They do lots of Gospel and right in that Casino the other night, Joe remarked that our country is moving away from God. He told the crowd, we need to move back toward God. There were many shouts of AMEN! They immediately rendered a rousing Have A Little Talk With Jesus, which brought the house down!
Here is the best thing about the OAKS. After 40 million records sold, many number one hits and all the accolades that go with it, they are still good, God fearing, down to earth men. They appreciate their fans and in spite of their age, they have embraced social media. They are in touch with their fans through Facebook ,Twitter and other platforms. It’s not hard to follow them and communicate with them.
Thank you Oak Ridge Boys for all you’re doing! Thanks for being my friends.
Energizer Bunny? Check out the Oak Ridge Boys. They are the ENERGIZER OAKS! They are runnin’ hard and there’s no end in sight!
Cogitate on this…