Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall Details Neuromuscular Disorder, Retires From the Road
The Oak Ridge Boys' farewell tour will no longer include Joe Bonsall. The 75-year-old says he won't take the stage with his bandmates in 2024 (and beyond).
A replacement for Bonsall named Ben James was introduced last week.
- The Oak Ridge Boys announced the American Made: Farewell Tour in September, 2023.
- The 50th anniversary tour came with a note that they'd play far fewer dates each year moving forward.
- "My legs aren't what they used to be," Bonsall told Billboard at the time.
What Happened to the Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall?
Bonsall's decision to retire from the road seems sudden, but it looks to have been inevitable. The slow onset of a neuromuscular disorder has made walking impossible, he tells People, "So I have basically retired from the road."
Collectively, the group has pressed on, despite several medical emergencies and issues over the last half-decade. Bonsall had a brush with death in 2022 when doctors found pulmonary embolisms.
"I could have easily died last weekend," he tweeted that June, "but God is not through with me yet."
Prior to that, Bonsall admitted to having a genetic condition called Dupuytren’s disease, which John Hopkins defines as a gradual thickening and tightening of tissue under the skin in the hand. He had surgery in 2017 to help him use his hand properly again.
"I will never forget," he said of his 50 years with the band. "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."
Who Will Replace Joe Bonsall?
People notes that a 27-year-old named Ben James will replace Bonsall. He was introduced to the band during a 2022 show in West Virginia and had the opportunity to sing Bonsall's part. James is a lifelong fan who says "Elvira" was on repeat in his home growing up.
This year marks 51 years since the Oak Ridge Boys began performing with a lineup of Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban. The Country Music Hall of Famers have 17 No. 1 hits, including seventeen No. 1 hits, including "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight, "Trying to Love Two Women" and "Elvira."
At the time of the American Made: Farewell Tour announcement, they'd only shared dates through 2023 but a check of the band's official website shows about 20 concerts on the calendar in 2024. They indicated they'd play 50 to 60 each year moving forward, about half of what they played previously.
PICTURES: See Inside Oak Ridge Boys Legend William Lee Golden's Stunning Historic Plantation Home
Gallery Credit: Sterling Whitaker