Joe Bonsall's Loss Mourned In Tributes: 'My Heart Is Heavy'

By Kelly Fisher

July 9, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

Country artists, organizations and fans grieved the loss of Joe Bonsall in heartfelt tributes on Tuesday (July 9). The longtime member of The Oak Ridge Boys, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, died after experiencing complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He was 76.

Bonsall was born in May 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died on Tuesday morning, per a statement shared on his website and by The Oak Ridge Boys. Bonsall is survived by his wife of more than four decades, Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, great grandsons Chance and Grey, and sister Nancy, the statement reads, adding that the family requests privacy at this time.

Sara Evans was one of many country artists and fans to pay tribute to Bonsall, writing on her Instagram story: “So sad to hear of Joe Bonsall passing. My prayers today are for his family and loved ones. I love The Oak Ridge Boys music!”

“I’m heartbroken to hear of my friend Joe Bonsalls passing,” Blake Shelton wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “I’ve NEVER seen Joe when he wasn’t smiling and completely full of life. He absolutely loved singing like no one I ever met. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his [Oak Ridge Boys] brothers. We all lost a special person today.”

Eddie Montgomery, part of the duo Montgomery Gentry, wrote in his own post (and went on to share a belated birthday tribute to late country artist Toby Keith): “OMG!!!! I can’t beleave we lost one of the greats as a singer entertainer and a person joe bonsall !! Man growing up listening to the oaks !! Love all them guys the lord needs him in choir !!!! Brother go rest easy !!!!”

Late singer and musician Charlie Danielsfamily said they’re “sad to hear of the passing of one of country & Gospel music's great voices and just an all-around great guy, [Joe Bonsall] from The [Oak Ridge Boys]. I didn't know him well, but he & Dad were friends and spoke frequently. I did have the pleasure of Joe giving me a shout-out from the stage when I was at the [Grand Ole Opry] representing the [MTSU Daniels Center] on military appreciation nights a couple of times. Rest in paradise, & tell a certain fiddle player we love and miss him.”

“My heart is heavy this morning after hearing that my friend [Oak Ridge Boys] tenor [Joe Bonsall] has passed away at the age of 76,” Travis Tritt wrote. He later shared a video from one of Bonsall's final performances with The Oak Ridge Boys before leaving the group because of health concerns. “Joe had amazing talent and a wonderful personality and he will be missed terribly by everyone who knew him. Joe is with our Lord Jesus now and that brings me some comfort. My heartfelt condolences go out to Joe’s wife, Mary Ann, his children and all his extended family. RIP.”

Bonsall’s loss was also mourned by the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, among others. See the growing list of tributes to Bonsall below.

The Oak Ridge Boys
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