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Joe Bonsall Talks of Celebrating Band's Longevity, Working with Haggard

Joe Bonsall Talks of Celebrating Band’s Longevity, Working with Haggard

In an interview, Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys says this year’s tour is really a celebration of their music and achievements. Join the band in that celebration as their tour makes a stop at Country Tonite in Pigeon Forge this month.

It has been a big year for the Oak Ridge Boys. The band won a Dove Award recently for their 2015 recording “Sweet Jesus,” a song written by the late Merle Haggard. It was the first time the Oaks recorded with Haggard and struck gold. The song earned Haggard his first Gospel Music Award.

“It was wonderful to do that song. Merle sang on the track,” said Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys. “We had never worked with Hag (Haggard) before and it was amazing. It was one of his last recordings and what a way to take a final bow.”

This year the band kicked off their 2016 tour dubbed “The Never Ending Tour” which is intended as a celebration of their hits, their longevity and several other noteworthy accomplishments.

“We are celebrating 42 years of being together,” said Bonsall. “We are celebrating joining the Grand Ol’ Opry, celebrating being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, we are celebrating everything. Everyone is feeling good and sounding good and good things keep happening.”

Bonsall has authored several books including “On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys: Forty Years of Untold Stories and Adventures,” which gives the reader a glimpse into the personal lives of the band as they travel the road and in their daily lives. The book is a plethora of anecdotes, personal insights and golden memories.

During the more than four-decade career the Oaks have charted 50 hits including 35 top tens and 18 number one hits. They are known for such hits as “Bobbie Sue,” “Dream On,” “Y’all Come Back Saloon” and numerous others. But the most iconic song in their collection is undoubtedly “Elvira.”

“When I first heard the song I knew it was going to be a hit,” Bonsall said. “We first performed it in Spokane, Wash. and the audience went bananas. The song went to number one within weeks and we performed it on the ‘Tonight Show.’ That song took us from being a well-known country act to a household name.”

The music of the Oaks has proven timeless transcending multiple generations with its appeal and their fan base ranges from preteens to seniors.

“I was at first a little surprised when I saw young kids in our audience,” said Bonsall. “But the kids hear the grandfather’s old eight tracks and their dad’s old records and they become fans.”

The Oak Ridge Boys will be appearing at Country Tonite for two shows May 28, 2016 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online or at the door. For more information visit or call 865-453-2003.

Photo courtesy of the Oak Ridge Boys

About Michael Williams

Michael Williams has written for more than 60 newspapers, magazines and web sites including the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Citizen Tribune. He is a resident of Gatlinburg Tennessee and has written five books including "Great Kids In History", "The Legend of the Red Ghost", "The History of Eastern Sevier County", "Stranger Than Fiction: the Lincoln Curse" and "Famous Kids in History." Visit and