Joe Bonsall, a beloved member of The Oak Ridge Boys, passed away at the age of 76 due to complications from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Bonsall, a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, had recently retired from touring due to his declining health.

Retirement and Health Struggles

Six months prior to his passing, Bonsall announced his retirement from touring, citing a slow onset of a neuromuscular disorder that had progressed over four years. In January, he shared on social media that he could no longer walk and thus decided to retire from the road. Bonsall expressed gratitude for the support and prayers from fans and colleagues throughout his career and during his illness.

Legacy of The Oak Ridge Boys

Oak Ridge Boys Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban perform on stage (all standing) in Nashville.

The Oak Ridge Boys, currently on their farewell tour, have been a significant presence in country and gospel music since their formation in 1943. Originally known as The Oak Ridge Quartet, the group achieved its greatest success in the 1970s and 1980s with members William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, and Bonsall. Despite his health challenges, Bonsall continued to perform, often singing from a stool during the farewell tour.

Personal Life and Contributions

Bonsall was not only a talented singer but also an accomplished author, with 11 books to his name, including a memoir titled “I See Myself,” set for release in November. He had a passion for singing, reading, writing, playing the banjo, and working on his farm. Bonsall was also a dedicated fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, but above all, he cherished his faith and his family.

Joe Bonsall in a red shirt and jeans holds on to a microphone stand and sings with The Oak Ridge Boys

In his memory, Bonsall requested that no funeral be held and that donations be made to The ALS Association or the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center. He is survived by his wife Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, great-grandsons Chance and Grey, and his sister Nancy. Bonsall’s family has asked for privacy during this time of mourning.

Recent Losses

The Oak Ridge Boys recently experienced another loss with the passing of Rusty Golden, son of baritone William Lee Golden. This marks a period of deep sorrow for the band and its extended family as they cope with the loss of two members within a short span.