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Joe Bonsall, celebrated tenor within the nation and gospel group the Oak Ridge Boys, dies at 76

Joe Bonsall, Grammy award winner and celebrated tenor of the nation and gospel group the Oak Ridge Boys, died Tuesday. He was 76.

Bonsall died from problems of the neuromuscular dysfunction Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, in keeping with a press release from representatives of his household.

“Joe loved to sing. He loved to read. He loved to write,” the statement read. “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.”

A Philadelphia native and resident of Hendersonville, Tennessee, Bonsall left his gospel group the Keystones in 1973 to affix the Oak Ridge Boys, which initially shaped within the Nineteen Forties. He noticed the band by means of its golden interval within the ’80s and past, which included its signature 1981 track, “Elvira,” its 1982 hit “Bobbie Sue” and 1983’s “American Made.” “Elvira” marked an enormous crossover second for the group, reaching No. 1 on the nation chart and No. 5 on Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a illness that damages nerve cells and connections which are essential to manage muscle groups for actions reminiscent of strolling, speaking and respiration. Most sufferers die inside three to 5 years of a prognosis. The sickness grew to become referred to as Lou Gehrig’s illness after the star baseball participant was identified in 1939.

In September 2023, the Oak Ridge Boys launched into a farewell tour that was scheduled to final into 2024. But in January, Bonsall introduced his retirement from touring, saying it was too troublesome for him bodily after a four-year battle with ALS. Ben James, who has carried out with Doyle Lawson and Dailey & Vincent, was introduced as his substitute.

“I am now at a point where walking is impossible, so I have basically retired from the road. It has just gotten too difficult,” Bonsall said at the time of his retirement. “It has been a great 50 years, and I am thankful to all the Oak Ridge Boys, band, crew, and staff for the constant love and support shown to me through it all. I will never forget, and for those of you who have been constantly holding me up in prayer, I thank you and ask for you to keep on praying.”

In June 2022, Bonsall shared on X, previously Twitter, that he “could have easily died” after struggling pulmonary embolisms.

His memoir, “I See Myself,” might be launched posthumously in November. It is his eleventh ebook, a group which incorporates the four-part kids’s sequence, “The Molly Books.”

During his 5 many years with the Oak Ridge Boys, Bonsall was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He 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.

“For 50 years, Joe Bonsall was the Oak Ridge Boys’ sparkplug. He was as exciting a performer as any who ever hit a gospel or country stage,” Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a written statement. “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.”

John Rich of nation music duo Big & Rich shared a remembrance on X. Country music is crying at present,” he wrote. “Joe was an actual pal, and somebody I seemed as much as not solely as an artist, however as a person. He’s left a legacy of unbelievable music, and limitless accounts of his variety heartedness.”

Country musician Travis Tritt additionally posted a tribute to Bonsall on X, writing, “Joe had amazing talent and a wonderful personality and he will be missed terribly by everyone who knew him.”

Bonsall is survived by his spouse, Mary Ann; daughters Jennifer and Sabrina; sister Nancy; granddaughter Breanne; grandson Luke; and nice grandsons, Chance and Grey.

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