Oak Ridge Boys Member Joe Bonsall Passes Away at 76

The singer “passed on to Glory,” according to his publicist, on July 9, 2024, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Joe Bonsall, long-time member of one of the most popular and enduring groups in American country and gospel music, The Oak Ridge Boys, has died. According to to his publicist, the singer, a resident of Hendersonville, Tennessee, passed away on on July 9, 2024 from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Bonsall was a member for 50 years of the exceedingly popular vocal quartet, which was originally formed way back in the early 1940s to provide much sought-after entertainment for the large number of staff members (and their families) working at the highly restricted and secretive Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Bonsall, a tenor, joined the group in 1973, and, along with the the classic lineup consisting of fellow members Duane Allen (lead vocals), William Lee Golden (baritone), and Richard Sterban (bass), sang on all of the group’s biggest hits, including “Elvira” (1981), “Bobbie Sue” (1982), and “American Made” (1983). Bonsall joined the quartet one last time for the early dates of the group’s farewell tour, launched late last year, though his illness compelled a replacement to take over for him during the remainder of the tour, beginning in early January, 2024.

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Among the many honors bestowed upon Bonsall as a member of the Oak Ridge Boys, he was a member of of the Grand Ole Opry, 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. He was also the author of 11 books, including a memoir set for release in November, “I See Myself.”

From his publicist: “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.”


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