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The Oak Ridge Boys—William Lee Golden, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen—are the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. They were inducted Saturday (Aug. 6) by Little Jimmy Dickens, who surprised the group last month with an invitation to join by walking onstage dressed as a 4-foot-11 William Lee, complete with long beard and sunglasses.
The group was surprised onstage at the induction by a video greeting from President George H.W. Bush. “I cannot think of any group or any person who deserve this honor more,” the former president said, explaining that he’d been an Oak Ridge Boys fan since he first heard the group singing “Elvira” on the White House lawn. “I ran outside like a little kid,” he said, “and I’ve been blessed to call them friends ever since. I think of the Opry and the Oaks both as American icons, beloved from coast to coast and known around the world. I can’t think of a better union. I love you boys, and my best to everyone at the Grand Ole Opry, one of my favorite places in America.”
After Little Jimmy presented the members of the group with their Opry member awards, Joe Bonsall spoke first for the group, saying, “We’ve always been a friend of the Opry. We’ve always believed in the Opry and loved and respected every member of this brotherhood and sisterhood of country music. We’ve been nervous wrecks all day long because we knew how special this would be. This is a meaningful night, and is it different tonight than it ever has been when we’ve come down here to sing? You bet your life it is!”
On Sept. 19, the Oaks will release a new CD to be sold exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. It’s Only Natural will feature new music and new recordings of select ORB hits, including “Elvira.”