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Blake Shelton (center) performs with the Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban onstage during the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.© Getty Images

Blake Shelton left 'heartbroken' as he mourns death of The Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall from ALS — read tribute

The late country star announced his retirement from touring with The Oak Ridge Boys recently

Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
July 9, 2024
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Blake Shelton is one of many country musicians mourning the loss of Joe Bonsall, one of the founding members of the country and gospel vocal quartet The Oak Ridge Boys.

Bonsall passed away at the age of 76 on July 9 due to complications of ALS, a neurological disease he'd been quietly battling for years. His death comes days after the passing of Rusty Golden, fellow Oak Ridge member William Lee Golden's son at the age of 65.

His death was announced via a release through his publicist on social media that stated: "Bonsall, 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."

Blake, 48, who had performed with The Oak Ridge Boys in the past, took to his Instagram with a photograph from one of their shows and shared a heartfelt tribute to his "friend" Bonsall.

"I'm heartbroken to hear of my friend Joe Bonsall's passing," he penned. "I've NEVER seen Joe when he wasn't smiling and completely full of life."

Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys performs at the Ryman Auditorium on December 12, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.© Getty Images
Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys passed away on July 9 at the age of 76

He continued: "He absolutely loved singing like no one I ever met. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his @theoakridgeboys brothers. We all lost a special person today."

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The official statement announcing Bonsall's death continues: "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."

Blake Shelton pays tribute to the late Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys on social media© Instagram
Blake Shelton paid tribute to the late veteran country musician

"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."

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It added that at his request, there will not be a funeral. "In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The ALS Association or to the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center." His family has requested privacy.

William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban, Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen from musical group The Oak Ridge Boys and singer-songwriter Blake Shelton performs onstage during the 2016 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.© Getty Images
The "Honey Bee" singer most recently performed with the quartet at the 2016 CMT Music Awards

Bonsall, who was the tenor for the vocal group, announced in January that he would be retiring from touring with a statement that read: "Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over four years now) of a neuromuscular disorder." 

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"I am now at a point where walking is impossible, so I have basically retired from the road. It has just gotten too difficult. It has been a great 50 years, and I am thankful to all the Oak Ridge Boys, band, crew, and staff for the constant love and support shown to me through it all." 

Country band Oak Ridge Boys perform onstage at the Poplar Creek Music Theater, Hoffmann Estates, Illinois, August 21, 1984.© Getty Images
The Oak Ridge Boys members: Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban

"There is a young man named Ben James singing for me out there, and he needs your love and encouragement … his sound is different than mine, but he brings a ton of talent to the table! The Oak Ridge Boys will finish the Farewell Tour without me, but rest assured, I am good with all of it!"

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