From Elvis to Elvira: Richard Sterban’s Fascinating Updated Memoir

by Preshias Harris / 739 days ago / Comments

By Preshias Harris

What’s the connection between Elvis Presley and Elvira? The answer is The Oak Ridge Boys, and specifically the Oaks’ Richard Sterban whose fascinating memoir, From Elvis to Elvia, is set for release in a revised and updated version on August 1, 2022.

The updated version of Sterban’s book (written with Steven Robinson) coincides with the ramped-up interest in Presley created by the release of the movie Elvis, starring Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as his controlling manager ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker.

In their earlier history as JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, members of what would become The Oak Ridge Boys sang with Elvis. Sterban recalls with awe his first meeting with ‘The King.’ In this passage from his book, Sterban says:

Eventually, we heard footsteps coming down the hall and then, suddenly, the door to the ballroom opened and in walked “the guys.” It seemed as if there were six or more guys who came in and then parted, like the Red Sea, to reveal Elvis strolling in behind them, looking every bit like the King of Rock. He was dressed exactly like one might expect to see him: a dark two-piece suit with his signature high, Napoleonic collar, a patterned high-collared shirt, and carrying a black cane with a gold ornament on top. He immediately came over to J.D. and grabbed him in a bear hug.

Sterban explains that Sumner had been something of a hero to Elvis when he was growing up. As a member of The Blackwood Brothers, he would allow young Elvis to come in the back door and listen at all-night Gospel concerts. JD and the Blackwoods sang at the funeral of Elvis’s mother. Elvis would never forget that act of kindness.

In this excerpt, Sterban continues:

Standing in that hotel ballroom, Elvis and J.D. quickly caught up, and soon J.D. began introducing each one of us to him. Elvis interrupted him to say he didn’t need the introductions because he felt as if he already knew us. He hugged me and then we shook hands. I still remember looking into his eyes that first time. The magnetism was indescribable. I couldn’t believe that he knew my name and knew that I was the bass singer. I don’t know how we gathered ourselves well enough to sing at that rehearsal, but apparently, we did. I just kept thinking over and over that there was Elvis Presley, and here we were singing with him. It was a feeling that would continue every night; it never got old to me.

Long associated with The Oak Ridge Boys, the song “Elvira” was actually a cover of the original written and recorded, in 1966, by Dallas Frazier. Interestingly, the song was not inspired by a woman’s name but actually a street name in East Nashville. The Oaks’ version, a track from their 1981 album Fancy Free, went on to become the group’s fourth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, largely due to Sterban’s deep-voiced solo earworm: "giddy up ba-oom papa oom papa mow mow". The song crossed over to be a pop hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sterban’s book covers far more than memories of Elvis and the recording of Elvira.  He includes numerous personal recollections and anecdotes about the many people he has met and performed with over his long career in music.  Among those memorable characters: Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Sammy Davis Jr. and Roy Clark – and four Presidents of the United States.  Sterban also relates ‘behind the scenes’ stories of the many recording sessions and concert appearances over the decades.

Autographed copies of the updated From Elvis to Elvira by Richard Sterban are available from August 1 and can be preordered  here. More at the Oak Ridge Boys and upcoming tour dates here, on Twitter (@oakridgeboys) and on Facebook. 



Follow The Oak Ridge Boys  

The Oak Ridge Boys Tour Dates

07/31/2024 : Ocean City Music Pier: Ocean City, NJ
08/01/2024 : Chemung County Fairgrounds: Horseheads, NY
08/02/2024 : Keswick Theatre: Glenside, PA
08/15/2024 : Harvester Performance Center: Rocky Mount, VA
08/16/2024 : Harvester Performance Center: Rocky Mount, VA
08/17/2024 : Shenandoah Valley Music Festiv: Orkney Springs, VA
08/20/2024 : Grand Ole Opry House: Nashville, TN
08/29/2024 : Midwest Old Threshers Reunion: Mount Pleasant, IA
09/05/2024 : Grand Ole Opry House: Nashville, TN
09/06/2024 : The Palace Theatre: Greensburg, PA
09/07/2024 : Weinberg Center For the Arts: Frederick, MD
09/12/2024 : Prairie Band Casino & Resort: Mayetta, KS
09/13/2024 : Grand Casino Event Center: Shawnee, OK
09/15/2024 : Kansas State Fair: Hutchinson, KS
09/21/2024 : Grand Ole Opry House: Nashville, TN
10/05/2024 : Mississippi Coliseum: Jackson, MS
10/18/2024 : Turfway Park: Florence, KY
10/25/2024 : Greenville Municipal Auditoriu: Greenville, TX
10/26/2024 : Arlington Music Hall: Arlington, TX
11/29/2024 : Grand Ole Opry House: Nashville, TN
12/07/2024 : Crystal Grand Music Theatre: Wisconsin Dells, WI
12/08/2024 : Crystal Grand Music Theatre: Wisconsin Dells, WI

About Preshias Harris

Preshias Harris Journalist

Preshias Harris is a music journalist who has interviewed everyone from Alabama to ZZ Top for articles and stories published in numerous music magazines. She is the author of longest-running monthly country music column in America and authored The College of Songology™ 101: The Singer/Songwriter’s ‘Need To Know’ Reference Handbook. As a music career development consultant with special emphasis on emerging and aspiring artists and songwriters, she focuses on ‘chasing the dream’ while understanding the realities of the music industry. She maintains a writers’ room on Music Row – named The Sangtuary – for her clients and their co-writers. She is a member of ASCAP (as a publisher), BMI, The Country Music Association (CMA), The Recording Academy, The National Association of Talent Directors (NATD) and a life member of Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).

You can find out more about Preshias at and find her blog at