(VIDEO) Oak Ridge Boys Tenor Joe Bonsall, a Self-Proclaimed ‘Light for Christ,’ Passes Away

Joe Bonsel of The Oak Ridge Boys Passes Away at 76

Joe Bonsel, a cherished member of the renowned country and gospel group The Oak Ridge Boys, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 76. He succumbed to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder. His passing marks the end of an era for the group and leaves a profound void in the hearts of his family, friends, and countless fans.

Joe Bonsel’s family released a heartfelt statement that reflected on his life and passions: “Joe loved to sing, he loved to read, he loved to write, but Jesus and his family always came first. We will see him again on the promised day.” These words capture the essence of a man whose life was deeply rooted in faith, family, and music.

CBN founder Pat Robertson, a notable fan of The Oak Ridge Boys, shared a special bond with the group. They performed at his 93rd birthday celebration in 2023, a testament to their long-standing friendship. Robertson fondly recalled the event and how Bonsel and his bandmates delivered a memorable performance, highlighting their enduring appeal and the joy they brought to many.

A Storied Career with The Oak Ridge Boys

Joe Bonsel’s journey with The Oak Ridge Boys began in the early years of the group’s formation. The Oak Ridge Boys, originally known for their gospel music, transitioned into country music and became one of the most beloved groups in both genres. Bonsel’s contribution to the group was significant, and his powerful tenor voice became a hallmark of their sound.

During a recent interview, Gordon, a former radio disc jockey, reminisced about the early days when The Oak Ridge Boys were gaining popularity. “Fifty years ago, when I was a radio disc jockey, I got a lot of requests for The Oak Ridge Boys. At that time, everyone wanted to hear from that new tenor, Joe. He had just joined the group about a year earlier, but they always wanted the gospel songs,” he said. This anecdote underscores the immediate impact Bonsel had on the group’s success.

A Life Well Lived

Joe Bonsel’s life was one of dedication and passion. His love for singing was evident in every performance, and his enthusiasm for reading and writing reflected a deep intellectual curiosity. However, it was his unwavering faith and devotion to his family that truly defined him. Bonsel’s family described him as a man who always put Jesus and his loved ones first, a sentiment that resonates with those who knew him well.

Bonsel’s impact extended beyond his musical career. He was a beloved figure in his community and an inspiration to many. His battle with ALS was marked by courage and grace, qualities that endeared him even more to his fans and loved ones. Despite the challenges posed by the disease, Bonsel continued to pursue his passions and live life to the fullest.

A Legacy of Faith and Music

The Oak Ridge Boys’ influence on country and gospel music is undeniable, and Joe Bonsel played a pivotal role in their success. The group’s harmonies and distinctive sound garnered them numerous awards and accolades over the years, solidifying their place in music history. Bonsel’s contributions were integral to this legacy, and his voice will continue to resonate with fans for generations to come.

Pat Robertson’s admiration for The Oak Ridge Boys was evident in his tribute to Bonsel. He shared how the group’s performances were a highlight of his birthday celebrations and how their music had a profound impact on his life. “My father was a huge fan, so I know he had to be at the door waiting for Joe when he came in,” Robertson said. “Here’s to heaven, where a lot of ‘O Papa Mau Mau’s are going on right now.”

Remembering Joe Bonsel

As the music world mourns the loss of Joe Bonsel, it is important to celebrate the life he lived and the joy he brought to so many. His family, friends, and fans remember him as a man of great talent, deep faith, and unwavering love. His legacy is one of inspiration and hope, a testament to the power of music and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Joe Bonsel’s passing is a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with our loved ones. His family’s promise to see him again on the promised day reflects a profound faith in the eternal and a hope that transcends the sorrow of loss.


Joe Bonsel’s legacy will live on through his music and the countless lives he touched. As a member of The Oak Ridge Boys, he brought joy, comfort, and inspiration to many. His life was a testament to the power of faith, family, and music, and his memory will continue to inspire future generations.

In the words of his family, “Joe loved to sing, he loved to read, he loved to write, but Jesus and his family always came first.” This simple yet profound statement captures the essence of a life well-lived, a life that will be remembered and celebrated for years to come. Rest in peace, Joe Bonsel. Your voice may be silent, but your legacy will sing on forever.

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