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Oak Ridge Boys Singer Joe Bonsall Passes Away

Oak Ridge Boys Singer Joe Bonsall Passes Away

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One of the members of The Oak Ridge Boys has died.

Joe Bonsall was 76 years old.

Bonsall died on Tuesday from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a news release said, according to WKRN.

ALS “is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord,” according to the ALS Association. There is no cure.

Symptoms come on gradually and can vary. Some people may have issues grabbing or picking up an object, while others may experience a change in their voice.

The symptoms can start in the muscles controlling speech, swallowing, hands, arms, legs, or feet. Survival can be between two and five years with some living 10 years or longer.

It only affects motor neurons so the senses such as touch, hearing, and taste are not affected, the ALS Association said.

He had retired from touring in January, telling fans about the disease.

Bonsall released a statement earlier this year which said, “Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over four years now) of a neuromuscular disorder. 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. I will never forget, and for those of you who have been constantly holding me up in prayer, I thank you and ask for you to keep on praying. 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! God’s Got It!!!”

Bonsall was originally from Philadelphia and joined the group in 1973, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He lived in Nashville for almost 40 years, WKRN reported.

The group was a country band but had their first crossover hit with “Elvira” in 1981, which was No. 1 on the country chart and No. 5 on the pop charts. It also won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In all, The Oak Ridge Boys have five Grammys, the Hall of Fame said.

Their hit “American Made” was adopted by beer company Miller for its High Life beer and was adapted for its advertising.

In addition to being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, he was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, WTVF reported.

Gaither Music TV paid tribute to Bonsall upon his retirement, which featured performances of not only “Elvira” but also hymns such as “In the Sweet By and By” as Bonsall talked about his faith.

In addition to his music career, Bonsall also penned 11 books, with the latest to be released in November.

He leaves behind his wife, Mary Ann, two daughters, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as his sister, WKRN reported.

There will be no funeral, and instead of flowers, Bonsall’s family is asking for donations to be made to The ALS Association or the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.

Source: WKRN, ALS Association, Country Music Hall of Fame, WTVF