Joe Bonsall, Longtime Member of the Oak Ridge Boys, Dies at 76

The Oak Ridge Boys liveg.jpg
Alan Messer

Earlier this year, longtime member of The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Bonsall announced his retirement from touring. It has now been confirmed that he died on July 9, 2024, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Joe Bonsall Jon Mir

Photo by Jon Mir

Bonsall previously wrote about his battle with the neuromuscular disorder and decision to retire, “Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over 4 years now) of a neuromuscular disorder. I am now to a point that walking is impossible so I have basically retired from the road. It has just gotten too difficult.” He added that “it has been a great 50 years and I am thankful to all the Oak Ridge Boys band crew and staff for the constant love and support shown to me through it all. I will never forget and for those of you who have been constantly holding me up in prayer I thank you and ask for you to keep on praying.”

Joe Bonsall banjo Jarret Gaza

Photo by Jarret Gaza

Bonsall was a member of The Oak Ridge Boys for around 50 years. The band had a huge following and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. “For 50 years, Joe Bonsall was the Oak Ridge Boys’ sparkplug,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He was as exciting a performer as any who ever hit a gospel or country stage. His tenor voice was high and clear, and his jovial spirit always provided a jolt of energy, immediately rousing audiences to come on in and take a load off. He certainly lightened our cares every time he sang.”

Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys performs at the Ryman Auditorium on December 12, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Before he passed away, he wrote a memoir called I See Myself, which will be released this November. He was the author of 11 books in total, including children’s books and stories about his time playing with the Oak Ridge Boys.

William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall, and Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys attend the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CMT

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, daughters and grandchildren. At his request, there will be no funeral but the family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ALS Association or to the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.

The Oak Ridge Boys

Photo by Brandon Wood

Feel free to share your condolences in the comments.

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