It was the early 1970s and New Jersey singer Richard Sterban found himself singing alongside Elvis Presley.
“He had so much presence and so much magnetism, it is hard to find the words to describe what it was,” Sterban recalled.
At the time, Sterban was a member of J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, who frequently performed with the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.
But by 1972, country band the Oak Ridge Boys were in need of another singer and they asked Sterban to join their band.
“I was a big fan of the Oak Ridge Boys and I felt that the group had a great deal of potential and so there was very little hesitation on my part,” he said.
The next day, he left the Stamps and Elvis and joined the Oak Ridge Boys in a decision that, at the time, caused confusion for many of those closest to Sterban.
“Obviously history has proven that I made a very wise decision,” he said.
Sterban has remained a member of the Oak Ridge Boys ever since and on Monday (June 8), he and the rest of the boys will be performing at the Port Theatre.
“I don’t think that we get to Canada enough to be honest,” he said. “We come to Canada two or three times a year and Canadian audiences always treat us so well.”
While the Oak Ridge Boys will be playing all their classic songs, like Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight and Elvira, they will also be playing a handful of songs from their new record, Rock of Ages, Hymns and Gospel Favorites, released last month.
“We are looking forward to bringing our brand of country music to Canada,” Sterban said.
He grew up in Camden, N.J., and said performing with Elvis on a short, but regular basis was an important part in his career.
“It was kind of a learning experience for me and it kind of helped set me up for what was to come later on in my life with the Oak Ridge Boys.”
He says all the hype around Elvis helped him deal with success that he experienced as a member of the Oak Ridge Boys.
“We played a lot of the very same arenas and buildings that Elvis had played and they were just as packed.”
In 1976 the Oak Ridge Boys became the first country band to tour the Soviet Union.
Sterban recalled it as a profound experience.
“There was no freedom there whatsoever,” he said. “When I got back home to the United States … my first day off I went … and became a registered voter and I have never missed voting since then.”
Later this year, the Oak Ridge Boys will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Sterban said it is a huge honour.
“Ever since I found out, I have been trying to find the right words to describe how it really feels,” Sterban said. “But it is hard to find the right words because it is a big deal.”
The Oak Ridge Boys perform Monday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $50-$85. Call 250-754-8550 or visit www.porttheatre.com.
email@example.comFollow @npescod on Twitter