Beloved Oak Ridge Boys Member Joe Bonsall Dies At Age 76

Daniel Tommasino

Joe Bonsall, A Longtime Member Of The Oak Ridge Boys, Has Died

Joe Bonsall, a beloved and longtime member of the legendary Oak Ridge Boys, has died.

Bonsall performed with the Oak Ridge Boys for 50 years before he announced his retirement in January 2024. Citing health issues as the reason, Bonsall said:

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. 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.”

After Bonsall’s retirement, singer Ben James stepped up to take Bonsall’s place on the Oak Ridge Boys’ final tour.

Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys died on July 9
Joe Bonsall, pictured far left, with the Oak Ridge Boys during filming for a performance for Country Rebel in 2021.

Press Release Confirms That Joe Bonsall Died On July 9

Sadly, Bonsall passed away just a few months after his retirement. A press release confirms that the Grand Ole Opry member died on Tuesday (July 9) at the age of 76.

“Joseph S. Bonsall (76) of Hendersonville, Tennessee passed on to Glory on July 9, 2024, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease],” the press release read. “He leaves behind his precious wife, Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, two great grandsons, Chance and Grey, and a sister, Nancy. He is preceded in death by his parents Joseph S. Bonsall Sr. and Lillie Bonsall.”

The news of Bonsall’s death comes just eight days after the Oak Ridge Boys suffered another devastating loss. Rusty Golden, the son of Oak Ridge Boys member William Lee Golden, died on July 1 at the age of 65.

Bonsall and the Oak Ridge Boys were/are members of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

In addition to singing with the Oak Ridge Boys, Bonsall also wrote 11 books over the course of his life. A new memoir, titled I See Myself, will be released in November.

Bonsall also loved working on the farm, playing the banjo, cheering on the Philadelphia Phillies, and spending time with his family. He was deeply devoted to his Christian faith.

Remembering Joe Bonsall
Jarret Gaza

At Bonsall’s request, there will be no funeral services. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to pay tribute to Bonsall may make donations to The ALS Association or the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.

Bonsall visited Country Rebel with the Oak Ridge Boys in 2021 and performed their hit song, “Elvira,” to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Remember him by watching that performance below.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bonsall’s family, friends, and bandmates during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.

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