Joseph S. Bonsall
Who Is Joseph S. Bonsall?
If you are an Oak Ridge Boys fan you already know that Joe has been singing with this award winning, American music group for almost 44 years. Joe was 25 years old in October 1973, and he is now approaching 67 years of age. He is still singing with the Oaks, as chronicled in the book On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys.
Joe is the onstage spokesman for the group, handles many press interviews, and his lead voice can be heard on 50 different songs over these many decades, with several of them being monster hit records. He and his partners, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban, have become part of music folklore, selling over 41 million albums and selling out concerts every year from coast to coast.
Joe was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA and is a member of the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame. His first group was The Faith Four. His sister Nancy also sang with this group. He moved to Harrisburg, PA in 1967 to join with Richard Sterban and The Keystone Quartet. The cutting edge Gospel singing Keystones would eventually move to Buffalo, NY, where Joe remained, singing and promoting Gospel music until he moved to Hendersonville, TN in 1973 to join the Oaks.
Most folks know that Joe is married to Mary Ann Bonsall, and they have two daughters, Jennifer and Sabrina, and two grandchildren, Breanne and Luke. Joe and Mary live on old Hickory Lake and also maintain a 350 acre farm on the Tennessee / Kentucky line.
Joe is an avid sports fan who still lives and dies with his childhood team the Philadelphia Phillies. He also loves football and pulls for his hometown Tennessee Titans and Vanderbilt Commodores.
Joe is a banjo player who has studied the instrument for 13 years now. In his own words he “should be better!”
Joe, or rather Joseph, is a successful author. On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys is his tenth published book.
Joe and The Oak Ridge Boys are members of the Grand Ole Opry, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and 2015 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Joe and Mary have a small foundation—and also seven cats. Learn more about this elsewhere at the website.
Joe has a Twitter presence and a strong following, @joebonsall He is considering Facebook but has managed to avoid it thus far.
In this exclusive for josephsbonsall.com, we have asked him to answer questions that should shed light on what we may NOT already know about Joseph S. Bonsall.
What is your favorite color?
JSB: Not sure… probably RED… or maybe BLUE… yellow is also nice.
What was your first car?
JSB: After my father had a stroke I inherited his 1959 Ford station wagon, but I cracked it up.
What came next?
JSB: A 1959 winged monster Chevy Impala, but I cracked that up as well and, before you ask, next came a 1963 Impala convertible. It was gray. But after I cracked it up I had it fixed and painted red. I drove that car for years.
What was your first brand NEW car?
JSB: I had been driving used Buicks and Caddys right up to 1982. After “Elvira” hit I bought a brand new Cadillac Eldrado. It was black with red interior and had a buggy top and very cool wheels. The windows were tinted and I drove that baby for 10 years.
What do you drive now?
JSB: I slowly morphed into a truck guy and these days I drive a 2014 Ford F150. I LOVE my TRUCK!!!!
Was your first pet a cat?
JSB: No it was actually a dog named Lucky. Later on I had a black lab named TaBoo. Growing up in Philly in a row house most of the cats I knew as a kid were miserable alley cats. I don’t think I could have ever imagined I would one day adore felines, and I do!
Where you a tough guy growing up in a city like that?
JSB: Well sometimes you had to be. There is a fine art to getting out of a fight even if it means running away, however sometimes a bully must be stopped and you must go to any length to solve that problem. I think that is true today, whether it concerns a street bully, a school bully, an egotistical loud-mouthed blowhard, or a terrorist.
Okay. Change that gear? You live on a lake, are you a boat guy?
JSB: Oh yes. I have always had a runabout or ski boat, and all through my fifties Mary and I owned a 40-foot Chris Craft Express Cruiser. After I bought my farm in 1998 I sold the big boat and bought a big John Deere Tractor. I do love the water. Whether it is the ocean, a lake, a river, or my two and a half miles of Salt Lick Creek at my farm. I love the peace and God’s presence I feel by or on the water.
What do you like to eat?
JSB: I LOVE a great steak. I love sushi. I love pizza! I love pancakes. I love anything that Mary prepares in the kitchen. I am very fortunate to have a beautiful wife who is also a gourmet cook.
What are your drinking preferences?
JSB: Diet Cherry 7 UP. I always have one. There is even one by my bed every night. I also love Snapple Diet Peach Tea and, of course, a great cup of coffee! I also love a fine Cabernet. I am not a connoisseur of wine, but Mary says I AM a wine snob. I also enjoy some Woodford Reserve Bourbon on occasion. That’s really about it.
Okay, some short questions… Country or rock and roll?
JSB: You could add bluegrass, Gospel and light jazz. I love them all, as long as the song is good. I am more song oriented then genre oriented. I love a well-written song.
Favorite TV show?
JSB: I have quite a few. I am really going to miss Justified, as this is the last season. I LOVE Game of Thrones, and I regularly watch some police shows, like SVU, Criminal Minds, and Chicago PD. I will also admit to being a Grey’s Anatomy fan.
JSB: All the guy flicks like Godfather, Goodfellas, Tombstone, Hunt for Red October, and a few chick flicks like Sleepless in Seattle. I really like movies of all kinds if the storytelling is good. The first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan is the most emotional thing I have seen on a big screen, because my daddy was there.
JSB: Man that is hard. I’ve read so many books by so many authors. Steven King is my favorite fiction author. I read a lot of political books and even more books about war. I am a student of World War II and the Civil War, but I have read books on every conflict. But, to answer your question… God’s Holy Word… The Bible!
Vanilla or Chocolate?
Fruits or Veggies?
Do you have a favorite vegetable?
JSB: Lima beans. This is starting to sound like a lie detector test.
HAHA….Okay, Joe, to wrap this thing up… try to name 10 things that people may NOT know about you. Things they might be surprised to hear!
JSB: Oh, man … I am not sure I can come up with 10 though. In no certain order…
I once wanted to be a veterinarian and almost once went to police school.
I am an avid birder. I saw an Eastern Towhee for the first time the other day and freaked out.
People would not believe how hard I work on my farm. Weed-eating, small tractor, big tractor, chainsaw work, etc.
I love guns, but I do NOT hunt.
I never went to college... although I think most folks know that. My college was the road and hard work.
I suffer from Dupuytren's contracture in my right hand. I can still pick my banjo though, so I don’t worry about it.
I have split my head open over a dozen times in my life. If I ever go bald I am going to have one scarred up ugly head.
I love sushi but I do NOT do tentacles.
I enjoy TWITTER (who doesn’t know that?) I am trying to get to ten, so…
I have seen the movie We Bought a Zoo eight times
The Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation
The Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation is a labor of love for Joseph, as well as his lovely wife, Mary Ann. When the Molly The Cat Book series was first published, long time friend and associate S. Gary Spicer encouraged Joseph and Mary to start a foundation that would enable them to financially support causes that were close to their heart.
Over the years, the foundation has been responsible for aiding many literacy causes across America, as well providing funds for animal shelters and pet education, awareness, responsible pet ownership and care of animals. The foundation is funded by the contributions of Joseph and Mary Ann personally, as well as friends and family members who believe in them and the causes that they support.
“It is a way of saying thank you and giving back a bit of our success,” say Joe and Mary!
You can help literacy and pet related causes, as well as other related acts of love and caring, with your own tax-deductible donations, which can be sent to the foundation. 100% of every donation goes directly to these charities. There are NO administration fees or salaries paid.
Send a tax-deductible donation today and THANK YOU!
The Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation
16845 Kercheval, Suite 5
Grosse Pointe, MI 48230