3 Timeless Oak Ridge Boys Hits Featuring Joe Bonsall’s Lead Vocals

Joe Bonsall joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1973 and spent 50 years as the group’s tenor vocalist. While he was more than happy to lend his voice to the group’s rich harmony, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native was no stranger to the spotlight. In fact, he sang lead on some of the band’s biggest and most memorable songs.

Videos by American Songwriter

There’s no denying that Bonsall was a major part of the Oaks’ sound for the five decades he spent in the band. Without his voice, these three songs may not have gone on to be the classics they are today.

“Elvira”—Joe Bonsall Leads the Oak Ridge Boys’ Signature Song

Dallas Frazier wrote and originally released “Elvira” in 1966. Twelve years later, Rodney Crowell released the song as his debut single. Both Crowell and Frazier saw minor success with the song. However, when Joe Bonsall and the rest of the Oak Ridge Boys recorded it for their 1981 album Fancy Free, it became a huge hit. It was a No. 1 country hit for the group. It also reached No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100.

[RELATED: Joe Bonsall Tells the Story Behind The Oak Ridge Boys’ Hit Song “Elvira”]

Between Bonsall’s lead vocals and Richard Sterban coming in with the unforgettable “oom pa-pa mow mow” chorus, it’s easy to see how “Elvira” became the Oaks’ signature song.

“Bobbie Sue”—A Crossover Hit for the Group

Wood Newton, Dan Tyler, and Adele Tyler co-wrote the songs that would be the first single and title track from the Oak Ridge Boys’ 1982 album. It went on to become the group’s sixth No. 1 single. Additionally, it was a crossover hit for the group, landing at No. 12 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Bobbie Sue” sees Joe Bonsall leading the group in a song about rebellious young love. The song’s narrator and it’s focus—Bobbie Sue—run off together to elope despite her parents’ protests. The throwback style of the song makes it feel like something from an earlier era, drawing on the nostalgia of the Oaks’ older listeners.

“American Made”—Joe Bonsall and the Oak Ridge Boys’ Ode to American Women

Bob DiPiero and Pat McManus co-wrote “American Made” and the Oak Ridge Boys released it as the lead single and title track from their 1983 album. It went to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart for a week. Additionally, a re-imagined version of the song became a jingle for Miller beer.

In the song, Joe Bonsall takes on the role of the narrator who is disappointed by all of the foreign-made things that he uses in his daily life. However, that all falls by the wayside as he celebrates the fact that the woman he loves is 100% made in the good ol’ U. S. of A.

Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

‘The Voice’ Reveals Season 26 Premiere Date With Reba as Lone Coaching Holdover

Bruce Springsteen

Here’s Why Paul Simon Thought Bruce Springsteen Was a Mix of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison