Elvira is turning 40. Can I get an “oom-poppa-oom-poppa-mow-mow?”
The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating the ruby anniversary of one of country’s most enduring sing-a-longs, and that celebration will bring the group on May 22 to Johnny’s Steaks & Bar-Be-Que in Salado.
The group — Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban and William Lee Golden — are marking the big 4-0 for “Elvira” in a big way. They’ve named their current road show the Elvira 40 Tour.
The song was written and performed by Dallas Frazier in 1966, and it really didn’t go anywhere. But 15 years later — on April 4, 1981 — the Oak Ridge Boys released their version and “Elvira” shot to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts.
Lots of songs hit No. 1 then fade, but that didn’t happen with “Elvira.” The years have been very kind — it’s still a country favorite.
According to Sterban, the band knew they had a hit even before the recording equipment stopped way back in ’81.
“Jimmy Capps, our guitar player, had this big smile on his face. We knew we were on to something. It felt special.”
Sterban said the band played “Elvira” in concert for the first time at the Spokane, Wash., Opera House in 1981 before it was released on their new album, “Fancy Free.”
“We decided to sing a few new songs from the upcoming album, and we did ‘Elvira,’” he said. “The crowd went crazy.”
The Oak Ridge Boys would never again perform without “Elvira” in the lineup.
“It just never seems to get old, even to younger generations,” Sterban said. “We’ve had many hits, but ‘Elvira’ is still the song we’re known for. We can’t get away without singing ‘Elvira.’”
According to Frazier, the song is not about a woman.
“It’s about a street in Nashville,” he said. “Seriously, it’s in a very seedy part of Music City with a plasma donation center and payday loan joints.”
The street was very bumpy, Sterban said. “Oom-poppa-oom-poppa-mow-mow represents driving over the bumps.”
The Salado show will feature classic gospel, country and patriotic music, according to Sanford Brokaw, agent for The Oak Ridge Boys.
“High energy stage shows are the heart and soul of what the Oak Ridge Boys do best,” Brokaw said. “They have one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry.”
Members of the group say they still love performing live.
“I think our stage show is one of the reasons for our continuity,” Sterban said. “We’re still having fun. We love what we do. Bringing our music to people is what we live for.”
“I plan to be rockin’ my (tail) off as long as I can” he said. “The people who come see us deserve everything I’ve got.”
Tickets for the concert are $30 in advance for general admission and $50 for reserved lawn seating. Gates will open at 6 p.m. and music begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.outhousetickets.com.