Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys, Interview on God, Guns & Country

AmmoLand readers please message Joe Bonsall on twitter and thank him for taking the time to speak with us, as it is getting harder and harder to find American artists that are not afraid to confess their love of GOD, guns, and country.

Joe Bonsall
Interview with Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys Photo: Jarrett Gaza

U.S.A.-( The Oak Ridge Boys started out in the 1940s as the Oak Ridge Quartet performing southern gospel. In the 1960s they officially became The Oak Ridge Boys. In the 1970s The Oak Ridge Boys transitioned to country music.

It was during the 1970s that The Oak Ridge Boys’ most famous lineup came into existence. This lineup consisted of Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban. This lineup would turn out such hits as “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” and “American Made.”

During their time, The Oak Ridge Boys would become one of the biggest country music bands in the world. They would play concerts as far away as Russia and win multiple Grammy awards for their music. In 2015, The Oak Ridge Boys would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Joe Bonsall and the Oak Ridge Boys are still going strong with the release of their new album “17th Avenue Revival“. Their music is handed down from generation to generation. They are still touring and still putting smiles on people’s faces of all ages.

I had a chance to catch up with Joe Bonsall while The Oak Ridge Boys were on tour for the new album to talk to him about God, guns, music, and America.

John: First, let me begin and say that The Oak Ridge Boys was my grandmother’s favorite group. They are also my mom’s favorite group. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions.

Joe Bonsall : Thank you, brother!

John: You guys have been in the group together since the 1970s, and except for a short period, the group’s line up has remained the same since that time. What do you attribute to the longevity of the group’s line up?

Joe Bonsall : Over the years we seemed to have morphed into America’s group… Grandpa loved the Oaks. Daddy loved the Oaks. And now their children and grandchildren love the Oaks. We see all ages in the audience every night.

So, being passed down is one reason, I think. Other than that, I think our music has stood the test of time. We give every show all we have, and we have learned to keep reinventing ourselves without losing our identity, which is evident in our new “17th Avenue Revival” album.

Over the years we seemed to have morphed into America's group… Grandpa loved the Oaks. Daddy loved the Oaks. And now their children and grandchildren love the Oaks. Photo: Jarrett Gaza
Over the years we seemed to have morphed into America’s group… Grandpa loved the Oaks. Daddy loved the Oaks. And now their children and grandchildren love the Oaks. Photo: Jarrett Gaza

John: The Oak Ridge Boys are known as a very patriotic band. What is the source of that patriotism?

Joe Bonsall: I think much of it is our upbringing. For me, that is the case. My daddy was a hero in WW2, not that he would have called himself a hero. But his Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Hearts are proof to me. He was in the first wave at Utah Beach on D-DAY, and my mom was a Women’s Army Corp WAC.

They both rest in Arlington [Cemmetary], and they were a huge impact on my love for this country – and for those who serve. My mom cried when a flag went by… So therein lies much of the answer! This country has been good to us, and we never take it for granted.

John: You guys had a cameo on The Dukes of Hazard. I don’t think that type of show would be possible today. Does it surprise you how the entertainment world has changed since you first entered into it?

Joe: Not really… The music and entertainment business are always in a state of flux and change. The pendulum swings all the time. Talent and good business sense still pay off though. I have respect for people who succeed in this crazy world. I know how hard it is to get there and even harder to STAY there. Of course, hard work and a bit of luck always play a part as well.

John: God is a big part of your life. It sometimes seems like God is looked down upon in the current music world. Do you think that is true?

Joe Bonsall: I think a lot of folks still give God and his blessings the honor and praise, but many do not for certain. I know we do. I know I certainly do. The world is a dark place without Jesus Christ in your life. Our latest tour is called “The Shine The Light Tour” and part of that we are shining is God’s Love. It is important.

John: You spoke at CPAC in the past. How was that experience?

Joe: Awesome to be in a room full of like minds, politically and spiritually. We are a pretty conservative bunch here. We never take politics to the stage, however, we try to be a good example and shine the light for conservative principals and logic. Many do not… But it is all common sense to me.

John: You are known for your music. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you are also a successful author. One of your books is “GI Joe & Lillie” which is the story of your parents. They both served the country. Why was it important to write their story?

Joe: As I answered earlier, they were very special people and their lives were a great example to me. Daddy had a stroke at age 39. Paid for that war his entire life. My mother was the WAC who stayed by his side forever. It’s a great and inspiring love story and what an honor for me to have written about them. Many do not get that opportunity. Besides that, I promised my mom before she passed that I would write the book… So, there was that!

John: What type of firearms do you own, and do you have a favorite gun?

Joe Bonsall: I am not a hunter, but I am a huge gun guy. I own a few great Ruger rifles… and quite a few handguns. I have had a concealed carry permit for over ten years now, and I am a lifetime member of the NRA. But, up to this point, my guns have never shot anyone, even though the left blames people like me every time a loon opens fire on people. I carry an American Arms 22 magnum PUG, always. I also usually carry a KAHR 9, or a SIG 9 or a GLOCK 40. I just want a chance if something off-center takes place.

"I am not a hunter, but I am a huge gun guy. I own a few great Ruger rifles… and quite a few handguns." ~ Joe Bonsall
“I am not a hunter, but I am a huge gun guy. I own a few great Ruger rifles… and quite a few handguns.” ~ Joe Bonsall

John: The Oak Ridge Boys new album, 17th Avenue Revival, has just been released. You recorded the album at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with producer Dave Cobb. What made you choose RCA Studio A to record the album?

Joe Bonsall: Well, that was Cobb’s studio, and he was totally in charge of this project. He led us down a road of old time rock and roll meets shouting Gospel, and we happily followed his lead. The result is an album like we have never done before, and for a group like ours that is quite amazing.

John: You are starting a tour for the new album. Do you still enjoy touring? Is it easier or harder to tour than when you were first starting out in music?

Joe Bonsall: We have always enjoyed touring and singing live. It’s the heart and soul of what we do. Yes, we are older, but we have learned over these passing decades how to do it. Balancing touring and family life is a process for sure but, again… We know what to do. We just need a little more rest before we do it!!!

John: Where can people go to find out more about the new album and tour?

Joe Bonsall: Our website is Lots of info there on all things ORB… 17th Avenue Revival is available everywhere… iTunes, Amazon, Walmart and Cracker Barrel. You can find us on Instagram (@theoakridgeboys), Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@oakridgeboys). I am also on Twitter (@joebonsall).

John: Anything else you want The AmmoLand readers to know?

Joe Bonsall : I think we covered it, John. Thank you for writing about us. It’s an honor to be interviewed by AmmoLand News. God Bless man!

The Oak Ridge Boys are currently touring the US. For tour dates check here.

About John Crump

John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%’ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people from all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at

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Super interview! Very well done and wish we could visit with Mr. Joe all day! Thank you brother Joe for spending some time to share your testimony, strength and courage. You and the Oak Ridge Boys are truly a national treasure. The one thing I admire the most about you is the way your integrity shines when you’re performing on stage. It’s easy to tell it’s never compromised and what you see is what you get. Don’t ever let that light go out because we need you. I cry every time I watch the G.I. Joe and Lily video. If… Read more »

Missouri Born

We need more Americans like the Oak Ridge Boys.

Smith Family

Amazing interview, and well-said, Joe! The Oak Ridge Boys are truly one of the most special, enduring groups of all time. You all continue to bless and enrich our lives, and we thank God for you, for your stand for Him, and for the way you shine His light into this dark world. Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview, Joe, and thank you, John, for making it happen! God bless you both and keep you strong!