Government & Constitution

Oaks serenade recovering Bush

Oaks serenade recovering Bush
The Oak Ridge Boys with George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara in February at the former president's home at Walker's Point, Maine. The Oaks first sang for Bush in 1982.

At the request of the former first lady Barbara Bush, the Oak Ridge Boys Dec. 28 called a recovering recovery George H. W. Bush at his Houston hospital room to sing their mega-hit “Elvira” for the former president.

“Words cannot properly express how much The Oaks’ special performance meant to the President and the Bush family,” said the 41st president’s office in a released statement.

“This friendship goes back many years, and what happened yesterday gave the President a real shot in the arm as he, thankfully, continues to improve,” the office said.

“The Bushes continue to feel so blessed to have so many friends like The Oaks, and wish to thank one and all for their prayers and good wishes,” the president’s office said.

President George H. W. Bush sharing Thankgiving dinner Nov. 22, 1990 with troops deployed troops deployed to Saudia Arabia. Bush was president 1989 to 1993. (White House photo)

The group’s lead singer Duane Allen said, “The Oak Ridge Boys received the daily report from President Bush-41’s staff.” Bush is the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd president, and the two men are commonly referred to as simply “41” or “43.”

Allen said he and the other member of the Oak ridge Boys, Joe Bonsall, tenor; Richard Sterban, bass and William Lee Golden, baritone, were thrilled to first hear that the president was improving each day.

“Then, we received another message, Barbara Bush requested that we call the President and sing to him,” he said.

The lead singer said all the group’s members were on vacation, but at the request from the former first lady, they met up at their offices in Hendersonville, Tenn., and made the call to Bush.

“He asked to hear Elvira, so we sang that for him, and then we sang one verse of Amazing Grace,” he said.

Bonsall said all the Oaks were trading emails about Bush’s health and monitoring his recovery closely.

“Duane Allen called with the word that President Bush would love to hear a few songs from The Oak Ridge Boys and his family all agreed that this just may lift his spirits as he has been hospitalized for over a month,” he said.

“Duane was calling around in hopes that everyone was in town during this off time,” he said.

It took 45 minutes to run up the boys and when they were up set up, they asked the former president what song he wanted to hear,” he said.

“He said “Elvira,” so we blasted some oom pop a mau mau’s in the direction of Houston, Texas,” Bonsall said.

“After we finished we asked if he could hear us and he answered, ‘Oh quite clearly,’” he said. “His typical humor brought laughter all around.”

Bonsall said after they sang “Amazing Grace,” Mrs. Bush came on the line.

“Barbara Bush came on the phone and thanked us,” he said. “She said: ‘As usual the hospital room was filled with family and right now they were all loving The Oak Ridge Boys.”

Watch a video of the Oak Ridge Boys singing to George H. W. Bush:

When the speaker phone command performance was over, Bonsall said the lead singer captured the moment for the rest of them. “Allen said: “You know I am always proud to be an Oak Ridge Boy but at a time like this, in a moment like this, I am really proud of us. We just did a good thing.”

The Oak Ridge Boys first sang for Bush in 1982 and were still at it, he said.

“We all smiled and went back home. We had just sung a few songs for ‘our president,’ he said.

He is a man they love, America loves and the world loves, he said.

Golden said it was a thrill to sing to Bush for both him and his wife.

“Brenda and I consider President George H.W. Bush, Barbara and their entire family some of our most treasured friends,” he said. “My partners and I were so honored to help lift spirits by singing yesterday over the phone to him and his family. We wish him speedy recovery.”

The Oak Ridge Boys: William Lee Golden, Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen, got their big break when Paul Simon hired them to sing behind him on his 1977 hit “Slip Slidin’ Away.” Their biggest hit is their 1981 single “Elvira,” which sold more than two million units. (Courtesy)

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