Joe Bonsall, Beloved Member Of The Oak Ridge Boys, Dies At 76

Photo: Getty Images

Joe Bonsall, a longtime member of The Oak Ridge Boys, has died. He was 76.

The beloved country star’s passing comes after complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, according to a statement shared on his website on Tuesday morning (July 9), and later shared by The Oak Ridge Boys. Bonsall is survived by his wife of more than four decades, Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, great grandsons Chance and Grey, and sister Nancy, the statement reads, adding that the family requests privacy at this time.

Bonsall was an author (including of a memoir set to publish later this year) and a member of The Oak Ridge Boys for five decades. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-born artist was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame, according to the statement on his website. The Country Music Hall of Fame was one of the first organizations in the country community to share a statement in Bonsall’s memory.

“For 50 years, Joe Bonsall was the Oak Ridge Boys’ sparkplug,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He was as exciting a performer as any who ever hit a gospel or country stage. His tenor voice was high and clear, and his jovial spirit always provided a jolt of energy, immediately rousing audiences to come on in and take a load off. He certainly lightened our cares every time he sang.”

The Country Music Association stated: “It is with great sadness to learn of Country Music Hall of Fame member and CMA Awards winner, Joe Bonsall's passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

The Academy of Country Music posted a tribute: “The Academy is mourning the loss of Joe Bonsall, a member of the ACM Award-winning group [The Oak Ridge Boys] for 50 years. Celebrated for their distinctive four-part harmonies, The Oak Ridge Boys (Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban) received four ACM Awards, including prizes for Top Vocal Group, Album of the Year for Ya’ll Come Back Saloon, and Single Record of the Year for ‘Elvira.’ In 2007, they were honored with the ACM Pioneer Award. In addition, they are members of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Please join the Academy in sending love and healing to his Oak Ridge band mates, as well as his family, friends, and fans.”

Over the decades, The Oak Ridge Boys became known for classics like “Bobbie Sue,” “American Made,” “Elvira” and many more. The statement on Bonsall’s page notes that “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.”

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