Longtime Oak Ridge Boys Member Joe Bonsall Dead at 76

Joe Bonsall, a member of the Oak Ridge Boys for more than 50 years has passed away at the age of 76. Reports indicate that the tenor died earlier today (July 9) due to complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the neuromuscular disorder that forced him to retire from the group earlier this year.

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According to his website, Bonsall was only 25 years old when he joined the Oak Ridge Boys in October of 1973. He stayed on with the band for 50 years. During his time with the Oaks, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native is also a member of the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: After 50 Years, Joe Bonsall Bids Farewell to The Oak Ridge Boys; Replacement Revealed]

More than just a member of the Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Bonsall was the face of the band for decades. Onstage, he served as the band’s spokesman. Additionally, he handled much of the band’s press over the years, taking interviews with a long list of publications.

Joe Bonsall Beyond the Oak Ridge Boys

Joe Bonsall dedicated five decades to the Oak Ridge Boys. However, he was much more than a singer in the group. He was also an author, a family man, and a hard-working farmer.

Bonsall penned 11 fiction and nonfiction books. Some, like I See Myself: Musings and Memories of a Blessed Life and From My Perspective were looks into his life. He also wrote two books about his time with the Oaks—An American Journey: A Look Back Over 30 Years with the Oak Ridge Boys and On the Road with the Oak Ridge Boys. Additionally, he wrote a series of children’s books centered on a cat named Molly.

He and his wife, Mary Ann, lived on a 350-acre farm on Old Hickory Lake on the Tennessee/Kentucky state line. When his health allowed, Bonsall worked to maintain his piece of land every day. The couple also started the Joseph S. and Mary Ann Bonsall Foundation which funded literary causes, animal shelters, and other causes close to the couple’s heart.

Mr. Bonsall is survived by his wife, their daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and his sister Nancy.

Featured Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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