Joe Bonsall, longtime tenor in nation and gospel quartet the Oak Ridge Boys, dies at 76


Joe Bonsall, a singer who devoted greater than 50 years to the Grammy-winning nation and gospel quartet the Oak Ridge Boys, has died. He was 76.

The tenor’s web site introduced in a press release that Bonsall died Tuesday from problems of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative illness also referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s illness. In January, Bonsall mentioned he was battling a neuromuscular dysfunction that prompted his retirement from the Oak Ridge Boys.

“I’m now to a degree that strolling is not possible so I’ve principally retired from the street,” he mentioned in a January assertion on X. “It has simply gotten too tough.”

He added on the time: “It has been an excellent 50 years and I’m grateful to all of the Oak Ridge Boys band crew and workers for the fixed love and help proven to me by way of all of it.”

The Oak Ridge Boys unfold information of Bonsall’s demise on-line, sharing a photograph of the singer and the assertion on the group’s varied social media platforms

Bonsall joined the Oak Ridge Boys, recognized for hits together with “Elvira” and “Bobbie Sue,” 30 years after its founding in 1943. He grew to become a member after a gig with the Keystones and was a mainstay because the group achieved mainstream success all through the ‘70s and ‘80s. The Tennessee group gained reputation in gospel circles and touted Johnny Money, Ray Charles, Brenda Lee and Paul Simon amongst its collaborators.

The group earned its first Grammy Award within the gospel efficiency class in 1971. The Oak Ridge Boys would go on to win 4 further Grammys, together with one for “Elvira” in 1982. The group has a complete of 23 Grammy nominations.

“We’re the act that gained’t go away,” Bonsall informed The Instances in 1996 after a efficiency in Glendale. “We’re not youngsters anymore, however we’re on the market rockin’.”

Bonsall, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, was additionally inducted into the Philadelphia Music Corridor of Fame, the Gospel Music Corridor of Fame, the Vocal Group Corridor of Fame and the Nation Music Corridor of Fame, in accordance with his web site.

The musician was inducted into the Nation Music Corridor of Fame in 2015, the identical 12 months the U.S. Supreme Court docket dominated that same-sex {couples} have a constitutional proper to marry in america. In response to the choice, Bonsall declared, “It’s a tragic day for people who care about spirituality and rules primarily based on the Bible,” and swiftly confronted backlash.

Within the years earlier than his demise, Bonsall toured seemingly nonstop with the Oak Ridge Boys, save for his or her hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Earlier than saying his retirement this 12 months, Bonsall had revealed in 2022 that he had battled pulmonary embolisms, telling followers on the time, “I might’ve simply died final weekend.”

The Oak Ridge Boys launched their American Made Farewell Tour in September 2023, and singer-songwriter Ben James took over for Bonsall amid his retirement.

Earlier than his demise, Bonsall authored 11 books, together with his upcoming memoir “I See Myself,” which is ready to publish in November. Music, household and religion had been central to Bonsall, his web site mentioned.

“Joe beloved to sing. He beloved to learn. He beloved to jot down. He beloved to play banjo,” the assertion added. “He beloved engaged on the farm. And he beloved the Philadelphia Phillies. However Jesus and his household at all times got here first — and we are going to see him once more on the Promised Day.”

Bonsall was born Might 18, 1948, in Philadelphia. He’s survived by spouse Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, two great-grandsons, Probability and Gray, and a sister, Nancy. He’s preceded in demise by his mother and father, Joseph S. Bonsall Sr. and Lillie Bonsall.

The household won’t host a funeral, at Bonsall’s request. Supporters can donate to the ALS Assn. or to the Vanderbilt Medical Heart ALS and Neuroscience Analysis Heart.

Former Instances workers author Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.


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