In the months prior to the passing of George H.W. Bush, the Oak Ridge Boys remained at the ready. They traveled with suits and ties available at all times, wanting to have everything they needed to fulfill a promise they had made to Bush years before. On the day of the 41st president’s funeral, they kept their promise.
Bush had been a fan of the Oak Ridge Boys for decades, particularly their rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
In the 1980s, the band performed at the White House, but Bush, who was vice president at the time, was unable to attend. However, that didn’t stop Bush from making a few requests.
“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,” said Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen, according to a report by Southern Living. “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?’”
The Oak Ridge Boys performed for Bush several times over the years, including a performance of “Amazing Grace” during his inauguration ceremonies.
“We sang for him at his call after that,” Allen stated. “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.”
“George Bush requested before he passed away that we sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ his favorite song, at his funeral,” added Richard Sterban. “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.”
“It’s what you do for friends,” said Allen, and all of the singers felt it was a privilege to perform the song for Bush one last time, just like they had promised years ago.