Oak Ridge Boys Mourn the Passing of Joe Bonsall

~ The Oak Ridge Boys Mourn the loss of JOE BONSALL ~

Joe Bonsall Dead at 76

“When I look at Joe Bonsall’s life, I see a life fulfilled. The son of two military veterans, raised to become street-smart in the hood-influenced neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents taught him that he could be anything he wished to be if he worked hard, told the truth, and trusted in God. Joe could do anything he set his mind to do, but what impressed me the most was the energy, love, and compassion he put into everything he did and his unique gift to communicate those emotions and feelings into every performance, song, and book. Joe was “that” best friend that every person hopes to have in his life.” 

Duane Allen / The Oak Ridge Boys

Oak Ridge Boys Mourn the Loss of Joe Bonsall

Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys passed away today, July 9, 2024. He was the beloved tenor of the country/gospel quartet from 1973 to 2023.

This makes the second loss for The Oaks in July. Rusty Golden Son of The Oaks William Lee Golden, passed away earlier this month.

This has been a week of sadness with the loss of my son, Rusty Golden, and now the loss of our brother and our partner of over 50 years, Joe Bonsall. Thankfully we have the memories made and the songs that we’ve sang together to get us through. It gives me comfort to know that Joe and Rusty are together again. Our prayers are with his family.” 

William Lee Golden / The Oak Ridge Boys

Bonsall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015 as part of The Oak Ridge Boys.

The Oak Ridge Boys formed in 1943 as the Oak Ridge Quartet, a Southern Gospel group in the 1950s through the 1970s when they began to focus more on country music. Bonsal joined in the 70s and was part of the lineup that produced the most hits for the group. 

“For many years, Joe was my best friend. We knew each other long before we both became members of The Oak Ridge Boys. He was a special person, who was loved by everyone and was a true inspiration to us all. He was also the best singing partner a person could have. For several years he bravely fought a terrible disease and was a trooper right up until the very end. There is no doubt that today, he is in a much better place – at HOME with Jesus. I will see you soon my dear friend.”

Richard Sterban / The Oak Ridge Boy

On January 3, of this year, Bonsall announced his retirement from touring with the Oak Ridge Boys due to a neuromuscular disease (which was later revealed to be ALS). Bonsall died of complications from ALS on July 9, at the age of 76.

“Joe was a true hero to me. His singing is something that I have admired since I was a kid. Nobody could do it like Joe could do it. He was such an encouragement to me. I feel honored that he chose me to sing the tenor line when he decided to come off the road. I try my best for Joe and the Boys every night but only Joe can fill that spot. The legacy he leaves with us is something that is irreplaceable. I am forever thankful I got to know and love one of my all-time heroes that was nothing but good to me. I will miss Joe Bonsall. Thank you for loving everyone you met and making them feel like the most important person in your life when you spoke to them. A true gentleman.” 

Ben James / The Oak Ridge Boys

His obituary states: “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.”

God love you, Joe Bonsall. You have been an inspiration to fans, friends, and family, especially to me for 52 years. This is a very rough day.”

Jim Halsey, Manager of The Oak Ridge Boys

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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