The Oak Ridge Boys with Dan Rather
From L-R: Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, Dan Rather, William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban
Photo courtesy of News and Guts Media
Los Angeles, CA – GRAMMY® winning, Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry members The Oak Ridge Boys join Dan Rather for a lively evening, opening up about their controversial crossover from Gospel to Country and the incredible impact fellow icon Johnny Cash had on their career in this exclusive look at an all-new episode of The Big Interview—airing Tuesday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

During the conversation, the band discusses their early days as an up-and-coming act living in close proximity to genre power couple June and Johnny Cash, with whom they struck up a long-lasting friendship—one that would change the trajectory of their path to super-stardom. As tenor Joseph Bonsall recalls, “Johnny took us out with him, paid us more than we were worth, even gave us bonuses. I mean, they knew we were hurtin’… we didn’t go to bed as a Gospel quartet and wake up as a bunch of Country music hit makers here. There were these gray years in here where it was really hard for us.”

With the band struggling to break through in the competitive scene, Cash gathered the boys together to impart some invaluable wisdom that would stick with them forever. Bonsall continues, “He gathered us up in a circle and he gave us a pep talk. He said, ‘Boys, there’s magic here. I feel it, being here and among you and listening to you sing. It’s magical. People don’t really know it yet. But I’m just sayin’ don’t give up.’ Don’t give up, in that big voice of his. I mean it was like God talkin’ to us. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t even make up.”

Though the group was a titan of the Gospel genre, collecting a plethora of honors and routinely ranking at the top of the charts, they were hungry to bring their soulful songs to an even wider audience. This decision was met with some resistance from the industry, but it played a massive role in setting the stage for the band to become the influential powerhouse that they are today. Bass crooner Richard Sterban explains, “We felt as though we had to branch out and do some other things. In 1977, we had our first hit song, ‘Y’all Come Back Saloon’, and from that point on for the next 15 years, just about everything we released went to the top of the Country music charts and we became a major act in Country music… it was a very exciting period in our time and it was a great thing to be a part of. There’s no question about that.”

Check it out here:

To see more of this insightful episode, tune in to The Big Interview on Tuesday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, on AXS TV.

Oak Ridge Boys on Tour:
APR 27 Medina Entertainment Center / Medina, Minn.
APR 28 Arcada Theatre / Saint Charles, Ill.
APR 29 Peoples Bank Theatre / Marietta, Ohio
APR 30 Packard Music Hall / Warren, Ohio
MAY 04 Peoples Bank Theatre / Marietta, Ohio
MAY 05 BMI Speedway / Versailles, Ohio
MAY 06 Civic Center / Des Moines, Iowa
MAY 11 Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences / Charleston, W.V.
MAY 12 Little River Casino Resort / Manistee, Mich.
MAY 17 NYCB Theatre at Westbury / Westbury, N.Y.
MAY 18 del Lago Resort & Casino / Waterloo, N.Y.
MAY 19 Paramount Theatre / Rutland, VT
MAY 20 The Cabot / Beverly, Mass.
MAY 25 Dothan Civic Center / Dothan, Ala.
MAY 26 Atwood Music Festival / Monticello, Miss.
JUN 01 Beaver Dam Amphitheater / Beaver Dam, Ky.
JUN 02 Renfro Valley / Mt Vernon, Ky.
JUN 08 Hartville Kitchen / Hartville, Ohio
JUN 09 Hartville Kitchen / Hartville, Ohio
JUN 16 Porterfield Country Fest / Marinette, Wisc.
JUN 21 Pinewood Bowl Theater / Lincoln, Neb.
JUN 23 The Mighty Howard County Fair / Cresco, Iowa
JUN 30 Riverdome at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel / Bossier City, La.
JUL 14 Island View Casino Resort / Gulfport, Miss.
JUL 20 Thrasher-Horne Center / Orange Park, Fla.

JUL 26 Paradise Cove Margaritaville / Tulsa, Okla.
JUL 27 Gasconade County Fair / Owensville, Mo.
JUL 28 Adams County Fair / Mendon, Ill.

JUL 29 Ohiya Casino & Resort / Niobrara, Neb.
For entire tour schedule, please click here.