Emmy-Award winning anchorman Bill Bonds has died Saturday afternoon at 4:15pm according to sources. Very direct, old-school, in your face, and took no prisoners on any subjects. A native of Detroit’s westside, he got his start at WXYZ in the mid to late 1960s, briefly worked for KABC-TV in Los Angeles and returned to WXYZ in 1971 when the station was taking off. He was one of America’s top paid anchormen making over one million dollars a year. My mother had told me stories about Bill Bonds (when he had hair), that she remembered when he got his break on WXYZ. From 1971 to 1995 he was a staple for the Southfield station.
His no-nonsense approach to news as well as interviewing such icons as former running back of the Detroit Lions Barry Sanders, and Oprah Winfrey were very poignant, entertaining, and of course, direct. Mr. Bonds was very colorful on camera as well as off-camera (YouTube search: Bill Bonds).
He had some personal issues as well. One of which was the 1967 riots that had taken place in the neighbourhood that he grew up in, his brushes with alcoholism, and his daughter being in a fatal auto accident that involved a drunk driver. Through it all, he persevered well over his decades-long career. He was very close friends with Coleman A. Young, whom he challenged to a boxing match (would’ve loved to have seen Billy without his “rug” on), and was emotional when the former mayor died in late 1997. He covered various subjects in reference to the burning of Detroit, the death of John Lennon, and the 1984 World Series which was the Detroit Tigers last time as WS champs. On occasion, he would step out of retirement and do commentaries. One of which that stood out to me the most was the one that he did in 2008 commemorating the 60th Anniversary of WXYZ. And still the sharp-witted, and in your face anchorman that he was, and he gave his two cents on the plight of America. Now, as you know, I don’t involve myself in politics, but Bill had a way to get the listeners to “read between the lines”. One thing that I will agree with that he said towards the end of the commentary: “If you don’t change, if you don’t adjust, you go bye-bye”. Truer words have never been spoken.
Who’s gonna fill Billy’s shoes after this void? No one knows….
Like my mother before me, I, too, can say that I grew up watching Bill Bonds. He truly was the voice of Detroit.
Rest In Peace, Billy!