WATCH: The Oak Ridge Boys Finally Fulfilled an Old Promise They Made to George H.W. Bush
In the months before the funeral, all four members traveled everywhere with their suits and ties in preparation for the call.
In the months before they took to the altar at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church with a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” that even had George W singing along, all four members of The Oak Ridge Boys traveled everywhere with their suits and ties. They wanted to be prepared when the call finally came to fulfill a promise to an old friend.
And when word reached them that former President George H.W. Bush had passed away at the age of 94 last week, they were ready.
Following a Wednesday concert in Spokane, Washington, the legendary country group boarded an overnight flight to Houston, so they could sing at the 41st president’s funeral, just like they vowed they would years ago.
“It’s what you do for friends,” Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen told The Tennessean.
Bush’s relationship with the singers he would come to refer to as “fellas,” began in the 1980s when they were scheduled to perform at the White House. Then vice president Bush was unable to attend the performance, but that didn’t prevent him from stopping by and requesting a song or two from his favorite band.
“We were doing soundcheck and here came this long and lanky guy with a bag over his shoulder running toward the stage from the White House,” Allen recalled to The Tennessean. “He said, ‘I’m a huge country music fan and you’re my favorite group. Is there any way you can do some songs for me?’”
Bush’s relationship with the Tennessee-based group flourished in the years that followed. They performed “Amazing Grace” during his inauguration ceremonies, at the White House and at this family’s home in Maine.
“We sang for him at his call after that,” Allen continued. “We’d fly to Kennebunkport with our wives and stay in their house and spend the summertime with them together. We last went two years ago and had lunch with them. Those were some of the most special times in our lives.”
The singers told The Tennessean that they feel privileged to sing his favorite song for him one more time.
"President Bush means so much to us," The Oak Ridge Boys' Richard Sterban added. "George Bush requested before he passed away that we sing 'Amazing Grace,' his favorite song, at his funeral. There's no way we wouldn't do it. He always taught us to do the right thing, and it is a tremendous honor. One final time here on this earth, we're going to sing it for him and we believe in our hearts we'll see him again one day and we'll sing it for him again."
Watch their heartfelt performance in the video above.