Wednesday, January 17, 2024


One word usually comes to mind when one mentions Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys - legendary. I mean he has accomplished so much in the past 50 years with the group: surviving multiple lineup changes, winning every award a musical group can win, performing in Russia, multiple #1 hits including "Elvira", one of the most played songs of 1981, sold over 40 MILLION albums, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, performing for various US presidents and so many other things I can't even begin to name. He's done it all and seen it all. Legend is described as "an extremely famous person or notorious person, especially in a particular field". Sure, that describes Joe pretty spot on but there is another word that I believe defines him even more accurately - hero. The definition of hero is "a person noted for acts of fine quality and greatly admired." THAT is my friend, Joe Bonsall.

I am somehow blessed to call this man a true friend, not sure why God thought I was deserving of this but He did.  I was 11 years old in 1981 when I got hooked on "Elvira" so my dad bought me my first country music album for Christmas that year, "Fancy Free". I listened to it and sang really badly to it nonstop. I loved the Oak Ridge Boys the first time I heard them and haven't stopped. I could never have dreamed that 13 years later I would be blessed to meet one of my "heroes" and find out through him what that word really means. 

Joe and I met via Twitter in 2010 when I posted a random tweet laughing about a guy in my apartment complex outside yelling "Scott! Scott!" and I volunteered to help him find his son and he looked at me and said "Scott's my cat." Of course I was like "Who names a cat Scott?" Into the tweet pops Bonsall laughing and telling me "My cat is named Ted." I had no idea this man even knew who I was or that he noticed any nonsense I tweeted so ya'll know I about fell outta my chair. We started a conversation and a few weeks later, he sent me a message asking if I lived near Smithfield, NC because the Oaks had a show coming up and he would love to meet in person. I happened to live about an hour away at the time and there was no way I was turning down an opportunity like this so I said yes, about a month later made the trip to Smithfield and a friendship was started. 

Since that day in November 2010, I have only missed one show in my area. I do not take any opportunity to spend time with Joe for granted and to horse laugh like we tend to. This man isn't just a friend, he is family (but kinda like that cousin you hide in the attic). We've shared the best conversations, the deepest laughs, eye rolls (like when Billy Dean busted in our interview in Kenansville, NC), late night butt dials when he would dial my number instead of his daughter's, strange gifts like a singing and dancing rabbi doll, a hand painted rock that looks like an owl that I named "Owlvira", a huge stuffed owl that I sent to the office, a funny "no trespassing" sign for his farm, a book about his cat probably plotting his demise and so many other laughables I can't even remember them all. What I do remember is the special place in my heart that only Joe will have. He was the first person to give this NC girl who just loves music a chance to grow a promotions 'business". He never hesitated when I asked him about an interview, he would create videos telling people about my promotions website and he was always there to help me, something very few in his position have ever done, much less even paid attention to an independent blogger who didn't have a million followers or corporate backing. He gave me time and that means the world to me.

While I am sad that I won't see him on the road when the Oak Ridge Boys come around and that I won't hear that recognizable tone that permeates the air like only his voice can, I am so happy that he is at home spending time with his biggest fans, his cats. (Oh, and Mary, his daughters, grandkids and the various wildlife like the deer on his farm too). He's given the world more of his time and attention than we deserve and it's time for him to rest, to be a dad and a husband and to enjoy the quiet. 

Thank you for always just being Joe, not just the Oak Ridge Boy, but the wonderful, caring and loving person that you are. I love you buddy and wish you the best. You are a blessing in my life that I say thank you for every day. I can only hope that I can be the blessing to others that you have been to me. I will always have a smile in my heart when I think about you.
Jennifer (the other one ... LOL)

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