This is an opinion piece.
My brother, Jeff, is nine years older than me, so I grew up listening to the music he loved.
One of his favorite groups is the Oak Ridge Boys. The Oaks were a gospel group in the early to mid-1970s when I first became a fan. “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor” is my favorite gospel song by them.
In the late 1970s, the Oak Ridge Boys switched musical genres to country and became one of the greatest country acts of all-time. They’ve won five Grammy awards and multiple Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music honors. In October 2015, the Oaks were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Oak Ridge Boys were the featured act in Boaz’s free summer concert in 2007, and I didn’t go. I still regret missing the opportunity.
This week, I read where the Oaks are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their iconic song, “Elvira,” which topped the country charts and won a Grammy. Dallas Frazier wrote the song.
According to a press release from 2911 Media of Nashville, the song has been played in more than 100 countries, added to over 109 editorial playlists and has reached five million plays on Apple Music.
Group member Duane Allen vividly remembers the reaction “Elvira” received the first time the Oaks sang it in front of an audience.
“It was at an afternoon rehearsal for ‘The Tonight Show,’” Allen told 2911 Media. “We were not set to perform it on the show that night, but we had just recorded it and decided to sing it for a soundcheck.
“By the time we got halfway through the song, the producer, assistants, secretaries, sound and light crew, and all of the people who could hear us came running over and freaking out. ‘The Tonight Show’ gave us the first reading of how ‘Elvira’ was going to be received.”
A funny thing I remember about the song is how my late mother, Shelba Allen, received it. Instead of “Elvira,” she thought the Oaks were singing “hell fire.” Her misunderstanding of the words gave us a good laugh, and she later laughed at herself for missing it.
“Elvira” is among my favorite songs by the Oak Ridge Boys. I also like “I’ll Be True to You,” “You’re the One,” “Dream On,” “Dig a Little Deeper In the Well,” “American Made,” and “Thank God for Kids.”
I’m glad I had the chance to grow up listening to the Oak Ridge Boys and their contemporaries like Alabama, the Gatlin Brothers and the Statler Brothers. Nashville doesn’t turn out groups like them anymore.
Shannon J. Allen is publisher for The Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.