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COUNTRY MUSIC COMMUNITY REACTS TO PASSING OF JOE BONSALL OF THE OAK RIDGE BOYS

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Photo Credit: Jon Mir

Nashville, Tenn. (July 9, 2024) – Friends and colleagues of The Oak Ridge Boys‘ Joe Bonsall are remembering the Country Music Hall of Fame member following the news of his passing. Bonsall, a 50-year member of The Oaks, passed away today, Tuesday, July 9, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He was 76.
 
“I was sad to hear about Joe today. He was such a great singer and entertainer, but above that, he was a wonderful person! I shall always treasure the great laughs we had and his words of encouragement to me very early in my career. Jamie and I send love and prayers to his family and friends during this time. We love you, Joe!” John Anderson (Country Music Hall of Fame Member Elect)
 
“I’ve known that this day would be coming sooner than later. The Oaks have had their share of sorrows and pain the last few months with the passing of Dwayne’s precious wife Nora Lee, Bill’s recent loss of his son Rusty, and now the passing of our dear friend Joe. It’s been a lot for all of them to deal with. My prayer is that we as a music community and fellow believers in Jesus would pray for and reach out to the Oaks. The winds of change have blown really hard against them, but I know too that they are men of faith and they will get through this. ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.’ (2 Corinthians 5:7-8, NKJV.)” –Ricky Skaggs (Country Music Hall of Fame Member)
 
“We lost an Oak Ridge Boy, but the Heavenly Choir just got a fine new tenor. Rest in peace Joe Bonsall.” –Ray Stevens (Country Music Hall of Fame Member)
 
“Joe Bonsall was one of a kind! He was an amazing person and wonderful friend! I always loved the soul and joy in his incredible voice! As an entertainer his presence was electric and lit up the stage! I especially loved his tender heart for his family and friends, including Barney, his cat. My heart is with his beautiful, beloved wife Mary and his family at this time of deep loss. We will all love you and miss you forever, Joe.” –Deborah Allen
 
“The Oak Ridge Boys’ camp has suffered two losses with the passing of my friend Rusty Golden, son of William Lee Golden and Oak Ridge Boy tenor, Joe Bonsall. Their music is their testimony to a life of service, to God our creator, where they both dwell in harmony in heaven this day.”
Billy Dean
 
“I wrote a song for Joe a while back that he wanted to record. Here’s the first verse:
I did my share of bus drivin…
Loadin and unloadin
When there was work to be done never once did I run and hide
I sang every song from my heart
Never once phoned in my part
I was not just along for the ride
SWEET JESUS knows
I was not just along for the ride…”

-Larry Gatlin
 
“My heart is aching from hearing the news of the passing of my buddy Joe Bonsall. Or ‘Brother Bonsall’ as I liked to call him! He was a friend for 50 years, ever since he joined the Oak Ridge Boys, and friends of ours for 60 years! He was an amazing guy, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather and a great friend to so many! When he got a little sick in July 2022, I filled in for him a few times at the Oaks’ shows. And believe me, it wasn’t easy! I had to sing my ever-lovin’ butt off! His love of singing and entertaining with the Boys is legendary! Seriously, I don’t know anyone who enjoyed singing more than Joe Bonsall! I thought about Joe just last week. I was gonna call just to check up on him, to see how he’s doing and dang, but something came up and I didn’t get around to it. Well Joe, if you can hear me now, I love ya, gonna miss ya and can’t wait to see you on the other side!” -Rudy Gatlin (“or as you called me, ‘Brother Gatlin'”)
 
“In this wonderful world, we are given the beginning, many friends, a blessing, and the end. God Bless Joe, The Oak Ridge Boys and family.” Doug Gray, The Marshall Tucker Band
 
“It’s been a terrible week for The Oaks. Ever since I met Joe he has been very, very kind to me. God bless him and rest in peace.” Sammy Kershaw
 
“Joe Bonsall was one of the charming musical personalities that made The Oak Ridge Boys so incredibly popular. Joe’s youthful spirit drove their on-stage appeal. Joe‘s passing is a real shock and totally unexpected. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”
Henry Paul, The Outlaws / BlackHawk
 
“Our condolences to Mary and the Bonsall family. It’s truly hard to see someone so energetic and so full of life as Joe was to leave here. He was a showman, and he was a friend to many. He was a Country Music Hall of Famer, but the best thing he would say of himself was he was a saved man and a loving husband. Nuff said.” -Marty Raybon, Shenandoah
 
“This is not just another devastating loss to our business, this is a limb gone from the MIGHTY OAKS. There has never been a group like them. They have been a part of our lives in so many ways, sharing not only their music but their personal lives and families. Joe was a major part of that strength. His personality and smile reached out and grabbed you as much as that unmistakable voice. Somehow I believe those are etched in our memories, never to be forgotten.”
Jeannie Seely
 
“My heart is broken. I’ve known Joe Bonsall since I was a teenager. The Oak Ridge Boys were friends of my dad, and I learned how to sing harmony listening to ORB albums all the way back to their gospel days. Joe has been a baseball buddy, and we just talked about life and sports riding down the road. Rest in peace brother BanJoey! You will be missed.”
Larry Stewart, The Frontmen / Restless Heart
 
“I woke up today to the very sad news of Joe Bonsall’s passing. Even though I’d been somewhat expecting it, I still was hopeful something would improve to keep him going. The Lord has taken him Home. He was always SO kind and supportive to me. Always making comments in public of what he thought of me with that big room-filling personality. I’ll always be grateful to him for that support. I will miss his energy, his kindness and his spirit. This is a sad day for our industry and for The Mighty Oak Ridge Boys. Joe, I know you are with our Lord now. We’ll sure miss you here.”
Collin Raye
 
“Joe Bonsall was one of the biggest influences on me as an entertainer. When I put my show together I wanted it to be as crazy as Hank Jr., as theatrical as Reba and as energetic as Joe. He was an amazing performer but more importantly, an amazing man. He’ll be greatly missed. Our family sends love and prayers to his.” –Aaron Tippin
 
“You know, The Kentucky Headhunters had two basket lists of acts we would love to play with. One was the Rolling Stones and the other was The Oak Ridge Boys. Both are the reason several types of music lives and breathes. Joe was the Mick Jagger of country and soulful gospel music and helped bring country to a new horizon with The Oaks. God Bless.”
-Richard Young / The Kentucky Headhunters

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