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After 50 years of performing with the Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Bonsall is retiring from life on tour.
75-year-old Bonsall has dealt with some health issues in recent years. He experienced a major health scare in June 2022.
“I could have easily died last weekend but God is not through with me yet …” he said on Twitter (now X) at the time. I am home now after 6 days in the hospital battling pulmonary embolisms …”
Bonsall eventually returned to performing with the Oak Ridge Boys after taking some time off to recover. But now, Bonsall’s health has worsened to the point that he can no longer keep up with life on the road.
In a statement he shared on Wednesday (January 3), 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.”
Just a few months ago (in September) the Oak Ridge Boys announced their plans to embark on their American Made: Farewell Tour. Bonsall told PEOPLE at the time:
“You could have never convinced that 25-year-old Joe Bonsall in 1973 that in 50 years the four of us would still be singing together and still loving every second of it.”
Sadly, because of his health, Bonsall will not be able to join the group on their final tour. So he introduced his fans to the singer who will step up to fill his shoes…a young artist named Ben James.
27-year-old James has previously performed with Quicksilver and Dailey & Vincent. He was introduced to Oak Ridge Boys’ fans in 2022.
James performed his first official show with the Oaks on December 30.
“There is a young man named Ben James singing for me out there and he needs your love and encouragement …” Bonsall said. “his sound is different than mine but he brings a ton of talent to the table! The @oakridgeboys will finish the Farewell Tour without me but rest assured I am good with all of it! God’s Got It!!!”
We wish Bonsall the best in his retirement, and will be keeping him in our prayers.
Watch Bonsall and the rest of the Oak Ridge Boys perform “Elvira” for Country Rebel in the video below.