Ever since The Oak Ridge Boys were asked to perform at former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, the country music group reportedly made sure to take suits with them wherever they traveled just in case.
And on Thursday, The Oak Ridge Boys will don those suits and sing “Amazing Grace” at the 41st president’s funeral service in Houston.
Bush was 94 years old when he died late last week at his Houston home. After three days of memorials and a funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. – which was attended by President Trump and the first lady as well as all of the former living presidents and their wives: Barack and Michelle Obama; Bill and Hillary Clinton; and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter – his casket was brought back to Texas where he will be honored with another funeral service before his burial.
Bush will be laid to rest at his presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station, next to Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years who died in April, and Robin Bush, the daughter they lost to leukemia in 1953 at the age of 3.
Duane Allen, a member of The Oak Ridge Boys, previously told Fox News the group’s relationship with Bush began when they were scheduled to perform at a White House event in the 1980s when Bush was then the vice president. Due to his schedule, Bush wouldn’t be able to see the performance, but he made sure to stop by and see the group before he left.
“We believe in our hearts we’ll see him again one day, and we’ll sing it for him again.”
“We were doing a soundcheck in the afternoon and here comes this long and lanky guy with a sack over his shoulder running toward the stage,” Allen said. “And when he got to the stage, he said, ‘Boys, I’m a big fan of yours and … would you do a song or two for me because I’m a huge fan.’”
After that, a relationship developed between Bush and the country music group, Allen told The Tennessean. He said they would travel with their wives to Bush’s home in Kennebunkport, Maine, and spend summers with the family. They also performed “Amazing Grace” multiple times for the president, including at his inauguration ceremony.
“Those were some of the most special times in our lives,” Allen said.
After they were asked to perform at the funeral, The Oak Ridge Boys made sure to travel with a suit and tie just in case, they told The Tennessean. They flew to Texas from Spokane, Washington, Wednesday night after a concert and will fly immediately back to Washington.
Richard Sterban of the band said Bush specifically requested they sing “Amazing Grace” at his funeral, as it was his favorite song.
“There’s no way we wouldn’t do it,” Sterban told The Tennessean. “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.”
After Bush’s death, the group recalled the time they gifted Bush a flashy jacket “which covered every aspect of his life.” The blue and white speckled jacked was covered with images of an American flag, the White House and the U.S. Capitol building.
“Barbara said, ‘Oh My God, If he starts wearing that everywhere I may kill all four of you!’” The Oak Ridge Boys recalled.
Aside from The Oak Ridge Boys, country music star Reba McEntire will perform at Thursday’s service at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. She will sing “The Lord’s Prayer” at the service.
McEntire shared a touching photo of her with Bush on Instagram after he passed away. In the picture, she is sitting next to the former president holding his hand.
"My favorite," McEntire captioned the photo, with the hashtags "great president" and "great friend."