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Heart To Heart With Joe Bonsall

Updated on January 30, 2019
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Way Back In Junior High School

Back in the day I when was a young kid taking classes at Syracuse Junior High School and long before I became Cheeky Chav; I had a great experience to be able to interview a long time friend for my school paper. This man, and company, have taught me so much about the music business by just moments and chances with them. When I would travel around with my mom to see their concerts; they would sometimes help me with the homework I brought with me to keep up with my classes. I can never express the amount of gratitude I have for these men. Enough hot air from this reporter let's get on to the article dated back from 1998.

Joe Bonsall In Southern Utah University

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First Impressions

I thought that The Oak Ridge Boys were one of the most innovative groups and more cutting edge. They were the first gospel group to grow their hair a little longer and to have a band complete with a drummer. They weren't afraid to be a little different, and they are still that way today.

What Would It Be Like To Be An Author And To Sing In A Country Music Band?

Well, Joe Bonsall does exactly that. Bonsall is the author of a children’s book series about an adventurous kitten named Molly and he is also the tenor singer for the country group The Oak Ridge Boys.

Pure Art Of Singing

I love singing and I love the people. The Oak Ridge Boys pay me to travel, to be away from my family. I sing for free.

Veterinarian To Keystones

When Bonsall was younger he strived to be a veterinarian; in doing so he took the hardest courses in high school. After a while he realized that he, "couldn't hack the school work." He later joined the choir and began singing. Bonsall found that he loved music and before you know it he, alongside fellow Oak Ridge Boy member Richard Sterban, started his own band--The Keystones. However, The Keystones were not to last and the group disbanded. Lucky, in 1973 another musical group, The Oak Ridge Boys, were looking for a tenor singer and Bonsall was just the right fit. Now, The Oak Ridge Boys are celebrating 25 years of friendship, fame and good times.

Tennessee River

A Bright Future

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Back In The Day There Was Media Play

On March 18, 1998, Bonsall was doing a book signing and reading the first book of his children series, Molly, at Media Play. He read Molly aloud to children from three different elementary schools from the Weber County area; Christian Heritage, Midland Elementary and Roy Elementary. I was scheduled to do an interview with Bonsall at Media Play during the book signing. However, with so many people wanting their books signed and wanting a chance to talk with Bonsall; time was lost for the interview. It was at Bonsall's suggestion that we do our interview later that night--backstage before The Oak Ridge Boys’ concert.

Shake A Hand Make A Friend

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What Made You Want To Be An Oak Ridge Boy?

I thought that The Oak Ridge Boys were one of the most innovative groups and more cutting edge. They were the first gospel group to grow their hair a little longer and to have a band complete with a drummer. They weren't afraid to be a little different, and they are still that way today.

How Long Have The Oak Ridge Boys Been Together? Both Original And Current?

They started in 1945 and sung as The Oak Ridge Quartet until 1953. They broke up and some younger guys put the group back together and renamed it The Oak Ridge Boys. William Lee Golden (baritone) has been here the longest. He joined the group in 1965. Duane Allen (lead) started in 1966, Richard Sterban (bass) came in 1972 and I (tenor) came in 1973.

Little Easter Egg

Before The Oak Ridge Boys were the Oak Ridge Quartet They were originally known as The Georgia Clodhoppers.

What Is It Like Traveling On A Bus? Do You Get Bored?

Most of the time we travel during the night, so most of the time we’re sleeping. I read a lot and do a lot of work on my laptop computer. If there's nothing else to do, I play Nintendo.

Thank God For Kids

Always Having Fun

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Of All The Places You Have Been, Which Is Your Favorite And Why?

I don't have a favorite, I really don't. I do prefer to play the big outdoor concerts though. The ones with 10-20 thousand people that come out to hear you sing.

I Hear You Write Songs. How Many Have You Written?

I've written about 100 songs. Most of them mediocre. I have written a few Christmas songs that The Oak Ridge Boys have recorded, It’s Christmas Time Once Again, Daddy’s Christmas Eve, First Christmas Day and Santa’s Song. I guess I specialize in Christmas songs.

G.I. Joe And Lillie

Not only has Joe written children stories about his kitty Molly and her friends; but he also has written one about his parents call GI Joe & Lillie which he also turned into a song. Both in literature and in music this story has touch to many people to count. I can tell you this it is one of my favorites that I can never put down.

G.I. Joe And Lillie Commemorative Presentation

G.I. Joe And Lillie

Do You Ever Wish That You Had Stayed In Gospel Instead Of Going Into Country Music?

NO! Not at all. We were starving to death in Gospel. We weren't making a living in gospel so it was either break up or move forward.

Which Of Molly's (Children's Book) Adventures Is You Favorite?

My favorite one is the one that won't come out until book four. In that one, petite little Molly get into trouble and is rescued by this big, old, ugly, slobbering bulldog named Brewster. Molly and Brewster become good friends and to me that is the heart and soul of the whole series.

Do You Have Any Plans To Make The Molly Series Into A Cartoon Or Movie?

I have every plan in the world to do that. I hope that someday it will be a reality. Down the road I see a Walt Disney movie complete with Molly toys at McDonald's and hopefully a Molly video game.

What Do You Like Best About Your Career?

The pure art of singing. I love singing and I love the people. The Oak Ridge Boys pay me to travel, to be away from my family. I sing for free.

Thank You, Joe

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Humbled And Honored

Thank you, Joe; for taking the time from his busy schedule to talk to me. I am honored and humbled to be able to call you my friend.I am honored and humbled to be able to call you my friend. I also want to say thank you, for giving all of us a taste of what its like to be in the music industry.

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