LIMA — If it’s hard to believe you’ve been hearing the iconic “giddy up, oom poppa, oom poppa, mow mow” of The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira” for 40 years now, just imagine being the man responsible for its delivery.
“You think you can’t believe it, let me tell you. It’s hard to believe ‘Elvira’ is 40 years,” said Richard Sterban, who sings bass for the County Music Hall 0f Fame band. “We had the hit back in 1981.”
The Oak Ridge Boys will deliver their song about the woman their heart’s on fire for along with other four-part harmony hits and newer songs from “Front Porch Singin’” during a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Civic Center, 7 Town Square, Lima.
Tickets are still available for the show for $35, $45, $54 and $75 via limaciviccenter.com or by visiting the box office from noon to 5 p.m. Friday. The lobby opens at 2 p.m., and masks are required for this show.
Sterban said the band enjoys coming to the region, which he called “middle America at its best.” The band also performed at the Civic Center in December 2016 and 2018.
“That is our audience. That’s who we appeal to, and in turn those people appeal to us. We have very much a family show. We’re very patriotic guys. We honor our troops and our veterans in our show. We enjoy living in this country of ours, to have the freedom to do what it is we love doing, taking our music to our fans and our audience.”
Sterban said fans can enjoy hearing “Elvira,” a classic country love ballad if there ever was one. He laughed at the song’s backstory, noting it started when lyricist Dallas Frazier saw Elvira Street in Nashville and felt moved to write a song in 1966. Others recorded it, including Rodney Crowell and Kenny Rogers, but the version by “The Oaks,” as their fans call them, shot up to No. 1 on the country charts and peaked at No. 5 on the pop charts in July 1981.
Sterban’s deep delivery of his classic line was the idea of then-producer Ron Chancey.
“It was his idea for me to do that line — oom poppa, oom poppa, mow mow,” Sterban said. “I’m not even sure what it means, if there’s a meaning to it. I just adapted it to my way of doing things. I guess it turned out OK, since it’s probably one of the most well-known bass lines in the music business. I’m kind of proud of that.”
The band has a history going back to the 1940s, but its lineup has been the same since Sterban, who previously sang with Elvis Presley, joined the band in 1972. The longtime lineup also includes lead singer Duane Allen, tenor Joe Bonsall and baritone William Lee Golden, complete with his recognizable long, white beard.
The Oak Ridge Boys are remembered for their 17 No. 1 hits over the past 50 years, such as “Thank God For Kids” and “Y’all Come Back Saloon.” They’re just as proud of their most recent album, “Front Porch Singin’,” Sterban said.
Producer Dave Cobb, who’s behind hot artists such as Chris Stapleton, worked with the Oak Ridge Boys for the fourth time. After the pandemic shut down Nashville, Cobb urged them to try a stripped-down formula, with fewer background musicians and more emphasis on the four-part harmony that made The Oak Ridge Boys a household name. Thus was born “Front Porch Singin’,” including the spiritual “Swing Down Chariot” and the new single, “Love, Light and Healing.”
“He said, ‘What I’d like to try to do is to capture the feeling of four guys just kind of gathering on a front porch and singing and harmonizing in a very, very informal way.’ There’s no structure to it. It’s just a very down-home kind of thing. Dave Cobb’s just a master of capturing feelings like that. We were able to find some really good songs.”