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There aren’t many questions you can ask Richard Sterban that are not already covered in his book “From Elvis to Elvira: My Life on Stage” but when I was offered a media interview with Mr. Sterban I accepted. His voice alone was worth listening to over the phone and we had an interesting conversation which I appreciated very much.
Sterban is a great storyteller and his career is fascinating. He describes being on stage with Elvis in such vivid detail that your heart starts to beat faster. His book is well worth the read.
From what I could find in the Cleaver archives, the Oak Ridge Boys were last here in Clare County in 1993. Sterban’s enthusiasm to play county fairs and spend time with his fans has not waivered over the years. His invitation to attend their show and spend time with the “Oaks” was sincere.
I couldn’t resist asking Sterban about his days working in a print shop before he joined the Oaks. It was one of the many jobs he had to take early in his career. He couldn’t remember the type of press he ran, but he recalled the various odd jobs he did to make ends meeting while playing music. No doubt his “do whatever it took” mindset has contributed to his success.
The Oak Ridge Boys had a new recording released in the spring of 2018 called “17th Avenue Revival.” It was recorded at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, in the Music Row district. Dave Cobb produced the album and also will produce their upcoming 7th Christmas album. Sterban described Cobb as a special guy who helped them really marry their “17th Avenue” effort, combining gospel with modern county music. The new Christmas album will include, by request, the song “Amazing Grace.”
For the new project, Cobb's vision for the group was to dig way back into their roots of gospel music. But a different kind of gospel. One that took a hard look at the early days of rock ’n’ roll, which was influenced by spiritual, or black gospel. Cobb is also the producer for Chris Stapleton, another unique voice and style in county music.
An “Oak” since 1972 Sterban has covered a lot of ground in the music industry. From playing with Elvis to singing “Amazing Grace” acapella at the funeral of his longtime friend President George H.W. Bush. He talks about his career with reverence and gratitude.
Before coming to Harrison, the Oaks will be on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. They will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, July 26 at the Clare County Fair. Tickets are still available by visiting or calling the fair office at 989-539-9011 or 866-820-4553.