Joe Bonsall, Oak Ridge Boys Singer, Dies at 76 from ALS

Joe Bonsall, Oak Ridge Boys Singer, Dies at 76 from ALS

Joe Bonsall, a member of the country and gospel vocal quartet Oak Ridge Boys, has died at the age of 76. 

Bonsall passed away on Tuesday due to complications with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 

In January, Bonsall announced he would be retiring from touring with the quartet due to his battle with the disease.  

A tenor vocalist for the group, Bonsall joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1973 and in 2015 was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside three of his bandmates. 

During his time with the musical group, the Oak Ridge Boys released their memorable crossover hits Elvira, Bobbie Sue, and American Made. 

Joe Bonsall, Oak Ridge Boys Singer, Dies at 76 from ALS

Joe Bonsall, a member of the country and gospel vocal quartet Oak Ridge Boys, has died at the age of 76; Bonsall pictured August 2022

Both Elvira and Bobbie Sue found success with country and pop fans – the 1981 track Elvira reached #1 on the country chart and 35 on Billboard’s Hot 100 while Bobbie Sue, released in 1982, landed at 312 on the Hot 100 and was #1 on the country charts.

American Made, another crossover hit that peaked #1 on the Billboard Country Songs chart and 372 on the Hot 100, was released in 1983. It serves as the name of their current farewell tour, The Oak Ridge Boys American Made Farewell Tour.

In total, the group have had 15 songs reach #1 on the country charts. 34 of their songs have also reached top 10 in the country charts, according to Variety. 

A statement announcing Bonsall’s death on his website reads: ‘As a 50-year member of the American music group The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and inducted into the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

‘Joseph is also the author of 11 books including his latest, a memoir entitled I See Myself, which releases in November. Joe loved to sing. He loved to read. He loved to write. He loved to play banjo. He loved working on the farm. And he loved the Philadelphia Phillies. But Jesus and his family always came first—and we will see him again on the Promised Day.

‘At the request of Joe, there will be no funeral. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ALS Association or to the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.’

The singer is survived by his wife Mary Ann, his two daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, great grandsons Chance and Grey, and sister Nancy, according to the site. 

In addition to his musical accomplishments, Bonsall was the author of 11 books. Bonsall’s memoir, I See Myself, is also set for release this November. 

In January, Bonsall announced he would be retiring from touring with the quartet due to his battle with the disease; pictured August 2023

 In January, Bonsall announced he would be retiring from touring with the quartet due to his battle with the disease; pictured August 2023

Bonsall (far R) pictured with Oak Ridge Boys members Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, and William Lee Golden

Bonsall (far R) pictured with Oak Ridge Boys members Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, and William Lee Golden

During his time with the musical group, the Oak Ridge Boys released their memorable crossover hits Elvira, Bobbie Sue, and American Made; Bonsall pictured in 1984

During his time with the musical group, the Oak Ridge Boys released their memorable crossover hits Elvira, Bobbie Sue, and American Made; Bonsall pictured in 1984

Bonsall announced he would no longer be touring with the Oak Ridge Boys at the start of this year amid his battle with his disease.

‘Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over four years now) of a neuromuscular disorder. I am now to a point that walking is impossible so I have basically retired from the road,’ he said in a statement obtained by People. 

‘It has just gotten too difficult. 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.’ 

Millions of Oak Ridge Boys albums have been sold and they have also been recognized with numerous awards over the years including five Grammy Awards; Bonsall pictured with the group in 1982

Millions of Oak Ridge Boys albums have been sold and they have also been recognized with numerous awards over the years including five Grammy Awards; Bonsall pictured with the group in 1982

The Oak Ridge Boys were founded in 1943 and skyrocketed to fame in the 1950s in Southern gospel. 

They remained a gospel group till the mid-1970s but then changed their image and concentrated on country music.

During their early years, they also made many appearances at the iconic Grand Ole Opry. 

Millions of Oak Ridge Boys albums have been sold and they have also been recognized with numerous awards over the years including five Grammy Awards.

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