The Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall dead at 76 after amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fight (2024)

Joe Bonsall — legendary tenor for the Country Music Hall of Fame group The Oak Ridge Boys — passed away Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at the age of 76.

Bonsall announced his retirement in January after 50 years performing with the group, as he continued to battle amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

“When I think of the Oak Ridge Boys and their place in Country Music history, the image of Joe with his huge smile and boundless energy comes to mind so clearly. His commitment to serving others while developing Country Music into a worldwide sensation will never be forgotten and our industry has been made better because of him. Today, we lost an incomparable energy and voice in music. He will be missed greatly by all who were fortunate to know him,” Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said.

The Oak Ridge Boys:I asked Santa for an impossible gift. He gave me a friendship with The Oak Ridge Boys.

The Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall dead at 76 after amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fight (2)

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The Oak Ridge Boys singer Joe Bonsall obituary

An obituary for Joe Bonsall posted at read as follows:


May 18, 1948 – July 9, 2024

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. - Joseph S. Bonsall (76) of Hendersonville, Tennessee passed on to Glory on July 9, 2024, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He leaves behind his precious wife, Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, two great grandsons, Chance and Grey, and a sister, Nancy. He is preceded in death by his parents Joseph S. Bonsall Sr. and Lillie Bonsall.

As a 50-year member of the American music group The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and inducted into the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

Joseph is also the author of 11 books including his latest, a memoir entitled I See Myself, which releases in November. 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.

At the request of Joe, there will be no funeral. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ALS Association

Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center

The family is requesting privacy.

When were The Oak Ridge Boys elected into Country Music Hall of Fame?

The Oak Ridge Boys were elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015, according to the CMA.

How many CMA Awards did the Oak Ridge Boys win?

Two, according to the CMA. The Oak Ridge Boys claimed CMA Vocal Group of the Year in 1978 and captured CMA Single of the Year in 1981 for the hit “Elvira.”

Did The Oak Ridge Boys Farewell Tour stop in Indiana?

The Oak Ridge Boys just played at The Murat at Old National Centre in Indianapolis on June 29.

The Oak Ridge Boys song 'Elvira': 1981 CMA Single of the Year

What is ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease?

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is named for the New York Yankees star player who suffered from the disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The website states that the neurological disorder affects motor neurons, the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement and breathing.

What are the symptoms of ALS?

Here are the symptoms of ALS, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

Early symptoms:

  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches in the arm, leg, shoulder, or tongue
  • Muscle weakness affecting an arm, a leg, or the neck
  • Slurred and nasal speech
  • Tight and stiff muscles (spasticity)

As the disease progresses, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of your body.

Other problems that may develop:

  • Breathing (dyspnea)
  • Chewing food and swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Constipation
  • Drooling (sialorrhea)
  • Maintaining weight and getting enough nutrients
  • Speaking or forming words (dysarthria)
  • Unintended crying, laughing, or other emotional displays (pseudobulbar symptoms)

Chris Sims is a digital content producer for Midwest Connect Gannett. Follow him on Twitter:@ChrisFSims.

The Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall dead at 76 after amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) fight (2024)


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