NEW YORK – Vocal quartet The Oak Ridge Boys, Jim Ed Brown and his singing sisters, and longtime session guitarist Grady Martin are the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association announced their selection on Wednesday. The induction will take place later this year at the museum’s annual medallion ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Oak Ridge Boys made the hits “I'll Be True to You,” “American Made” and “Elvira” and became known to a non-country audience when they sang backup to Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin' Away.” They’ve sung behind Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bill Monroe and others.
While they are being inducted in the modern era artist category, the Boys were founded as the Georgia Clodhoppers in 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee. They sang so often to staff members and families at the Oak Ridge nuclear facility that the group changed its name to the Oak Ridge Quartet two years later.
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The modern members – Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban – are being inducted. Golden is the one with the long, flowing white hair and beard.
“I have seen tears in the eyes of Richard Sterban only two times,” Allen said. “The first was when we were made members of the Grand Ole Opry. The second was when we were informed that we would be among the next inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
As the Browns, Jim Ed and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie were known for their harmonies and 1950s era hits produced by Chet Atkins, including “I Take the Chance,” “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” and “The Three Bells.” The trio, occasionally joined by sister Norma, disbanded in 1967 when Maxine and Bonnie retired to raise families.
Jim Ed Brown continued with a solo career and also performed duets with Helen Cornelius. The 1977 Country Music Association vocal duo of the year had a hit with “I Don’t Want to Marry You.”
Brown, who called the induction an “overwhelming day” for his family, has also been a television and radio host in Nashville.
Grady Martin, who died in 2001, is known more for his work than his name. As part of the Nashville A-Team in the 1950s and 1960s, his guitar is featured on Marty Robbins’ “El Paso,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh Pretty Woman,” Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” and Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
He played the fiddle in Hank Williams’ band and logged 16 years as a guitarist for Nelson before retiring from touring in 1995.
Kyle Young, director of the country hall, said the new inductees “represent quality and precision in their music. They exemplify harmony, whether in the blending of their magnificent voices, or in the tightly knit ensemble playing of an accomplished musician.”