Joe’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, background shows through clearly in his love of the Philadelphia Phillies. According to him, “I live and die with the Phillies, no matter where they are. 1993 was great for me; one of the highlights was going home to Philadelphia and taking my parents to two World Series games. That was so cool.”
Now a Nashvillian for almost four decades, Joe is also a Tennessee Titans football fan. He and his wife Mary attend Titans’ games whenever he is in town.
Joe is an avid writer and songwriter. He became a published children’s book author in 1997 with The Molly Books, a four-book series published by Ideal’s Children’s Books. In 2003, New Leaf Press published G. I. Joe and Lillie: Remembering a Life of Love and Loyalty, an inspirational biography Joe penned about his parents. His song by the same name was included on the Oaks’ Colors album, released the same year. A music video of the song reemerged in the summer of 2009 and became a YouTube phenomenon with more than five million views. His latest book, On the Road with The Oak Ridge Boys, released from Harvest House Publishers in May 2015.
Joe also wrote the title song to the Oaks’ The Journey album, as well as the text for the Oaks’ coffee table book, An American Journey. New Leaf also published his Christmas story, An Inconvenient Christmas. In September 2010, Journey Press, a division of Sheaf House, released his latest hardbound book, From My Perspective, a collection of commentaries, stories and other writings. Christmas Miracles, a collection of short stories and commentaries, originally published in 2008, was updated in 2012.
For relaxation, Joe retreats to his farm on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line and can often be found on his John Deere tractor mowing part of his 350-acres—or sitting on his front porch and playing his banjo, an instrument he has played for almost eleven years! He plays a step-out lead on the Oaks’ new Rock of Ages CD.
Joe has been singing since he was about four years old and, in his mid-teens fell in love with Southern Gospel music harmony. He joined the Oaks in 1973, just prior to the group’s emergence on the Country music scene. As with the other group members, much of his time is spent on the road performing, but Joe has found his own way to get the maximum possible enjoyment out of touring.
“My life is really pretty simple,” says the Oak who is the principal spokesman on stage. “I go out there and try to sing the best I can and give them physically and mentally every single thing I’ve got. When it’s done, I go back to my room, call home, eat my pizza or sushi, get on my Apple laptop, watch the sports scores and say to myself, ‘Hey, I’ve done what I’m supposed to be doin’ and I feel great about it.’”
Joe has two daughters, Jennifer and Sabrina; two grandchildren, Breanne and Luke; and one great grandson, Noah Chance. Joe and Mary also have five cats, Sunny, Sally Ann, Baybe’, Crockett, and Mitty.
Joe’s personal web address is www.josephsbonsall.com.