The Oak Ridge Boys Speak Out After Joe Bonsall’s Death: ‘A True Inspiration To Us All’

The remaining members of The Oak Ridge Boys have spoken out to honor their late colleague and reflect on his legacy.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

July 9, 2024


5:42 pm

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The Oak Ridge Boys; Photo Provided

The remaining members of The Oak Ridge Boys, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban, as well as the newest member Ben James, are speaking out following the passing of Joe Bonsall. 

Bonsall, who was a member of the legendary country music group for 50 years, passed away on Tuesday morning (July 9) due to complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). While he stepped away from touring with the band earlier this year to focus on his health, Bonsall and the remaining members The Oak Ridge Boys continued to share a strong bond up until his passing. Understandably, they are deeply saddened by his death. 

This afternoon, each member shared a heartfelt statement in honor of their late musical comrade. They remembered his talent, his unwavering faith, his infectious personality, and more through touching statements. Scroll down to see how Joe Bonsall’s musical brothers are remembering him. 

Joe Bonsall; Photo by Jon Mir
Joe Bonsall; Photo by Jon Mir

“When I look at Joe Bonsall’s life, I see a life fulfilled. The son of two military veterans, raised to become street-smart in the hood-influenced neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents taught him that he could be anything he wished to be if he worked hard, told the truth, and trusted in God. Joe could do anything he set his mind to do, but what impressed me the most was the energy, love, and compassion he put into everything he did and his unique gift to communicate those emotions and feelings into every performance, song, and book. Joe was “that” best friend that every person hopes to have in his life.” – Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys

“This has been a week of sadness with the loss of my son, Rusty Golden, and now the loss of our brother and our partner of over 50 years, Joe Bonsall. Thankfully we have the memories made and the songs that we’ve sang together to get us through. It gives me comfort to know that Joe and Rusty are together again. Our prayers are with his family.” – William Lee Golden of The Oak Ridge Boys

“For many years, Joe was my best friend. We knew each other long before we both became members of The Oak Ridge Boys. He was a special person, who was loved by everyone and was a true inspiration to us all. He was also the best singing partner a person could have. For several years he bravely fought a terrible disease and was a trooper right up until the very end. There is no doubt that today, he is in a much better place – at HOME with Jesus. I will see you soon my dear friend.” – Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys

The Oak Ridge Boys; Photo by Photo by Brandon Wood
The Oak Ridge Boys; Photo by Photo by Brandon Wood

“Joe was a true hero to me. His singing is something that I have admired since I was a kid. Nobody could do it like Joe could do it. He was such an encouragement to me. I feel honored that he chose me to sing the tenor line when he decided to come off the road. I try my best for Joe and the Boys every night but only Joe can fill that spot. The legacy he leaves with us is something that is irreplaceable. I am forever thankful I got to know and love one of my all-time heroes that was nothing but good to me. I will miss Joe Bonsall. Thank you for loving everyone you met and making them feel like the most important person in your life when you spoke to them. A true gentleman.” – Ben James of The Oak Ridge Boys

 Jim Halsey, manager of The Oak Ridge Boys also shared, “God love you, Joe Bonsall. You have been an inspiration to fans, friends, and family, especially to me for 52 years. This is a very rough day.” 

Joe Bonsall was a beloved member of The Oak Ridge Boys, the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. 

Joe Bonsall poses for a photo.
Joe Bonsall; Photo Courtesy Indie Bling Studio

He is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Ann; daughters, Jennifer and Sabrina; granddaughter, Breanne; grandson, Luke; two great-grandsons, Chance and Grey; and his sister, Nancy. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph S. Bonsall Sr. and Lillie Bonsall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ALS Association or to the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.