Joe Bonsall, country music mainstay of Oak Ridge Boys, dies at 76

Joe Bonsall, a longtime member of legendary country music quartet The Oak Ridge Boys, died Tuesday from complications related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 76.

Musician Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys performs onstage at Pala Casino Resort and Spa on February 17, 2017 in Pala, California.

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“Joe loved to sing,” Bonsall’s official website said in announcing his death. “He loved to read. He loved to write. He loved to play the banjo. He loved to work on the farm. And he loved the Philadelphia Phillies. But Jesus and his family were always first, and we will see him again on the Promised Day.”

On January 3, 2024, Bonsall, born Joseph S. Bonsall Jr., announced his retirement from the Oak Ridge Boys farewell tour due to increasing health issues and immobility.

“As many of you know, I have been battling a slowly progressive neuromuscular disease (for over 4 years now). I am now at the point where walking is impossible, so I have pretty much stopped riding. It has become too difficult,” Joe said in a statement on social media platform X.

“These past 50 years have been amazing and I am grateful to the entire Oak Ridge Boys team and staff for the constant love and support they have shown me throughout this time,” he continued. “I will never forget and for those of you who have constantly supported me in prayer, I thank you and ask that you continue to pray.”

Country group Oak Ridge Boys performs on stage at the Poplar Creek Music Theater, Hoffmann Estates, Illinois, on August 21, 1984.

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Bonsall joined the Oak Ridge Boys in 1973, as a tenor singer. Over a career spanning more than five decades, the group produced more than 30 top-five country hits, nearly half of which were chart successes, including “Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight,” “Bobbie Sue,” “American Made” and their signature song, the RIAA-certified double-platinum hit “Elvira” from 1981.

The group, which also includes Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban, has won five Grammy Awards and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Bonsall is survived by his wife, two daughters, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.