Joe Bonsall of Oak Ridge Boys dies at 76 from ALS amid year of tragedy for the country band

The tenor singer lent his voice to some of the Southern Gospel band's biggest hits, including "Elvira" and "Bobbie Sue."

Joe Bonsall, an author and longtime member of The Oak Ridge Boys for over 50 years, has died. He was 76.

The tenor singer died July 9 due to complications from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS, according to a press release shared with Entertainment Weekly.

A funeral will not be held for Bonsall per his request, but donations can be made out to The ALS Association or to the Vanderbilt Medical Center ALS and Neuroscience Research Center.

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<p>Jason Kempin</p> Joe Bonsall

Jason Kempin

Joe Bonsall

Related: George Jones: The Oak Ridge Boys' Joe Bonsall says goodbye

Bonsall’s death comes less than seven months after he announced on social media that he would be retiring from touring with the vocal quartet due to a “neuromuscular disorder” that he’d been battling privately for over four years.

"I am now to a point that walking is impossible so I have basically retired from the road," he said at the time. "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."

Born in Philadelphia in 1948, Joseph S. Bonsall first began singing when he was four years old and later “fell in love with Southern Gospel music harmony” as a teenager, per the group’s website. He joined the Oak Ridge Boys in October 1973 and would go on to perform the Southern Gospel group’s biggest hits over the following decades — including 1981’s “Elvira,” 1982’s “Bobbie Sue,” and 1983’s “American Made” — alongside bandmates Duane Allen, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban.

The long-running band, who announced their farewell tour last September, have been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the Country Music Hall of Fame over the years. Bonsall, who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry, was also inducted into the Philadelphia Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

<p>Jason Kempin</p> Joe Bonsall

Jason Kempin

Joe Bonsall

Related: Rusty Golden, country singer and son of  The Oak Ridge Boys’ William Lee Golden, dies at 65

In addition to his contributions to music, Bonsall was also a prolific author. He penned 11 books including his upcoming memoir I See Myself, which is set to hit bookshelves in November. 

The vocalist’s passing is the latest tragedy for the band to occur this year. On July 4, it was announced that William “Rusty” Golden, son of William Lee Golden, had died at 65.  “This is the hardest thing ever for a father to have to face,” his father said in a statement to EW at the time. “I love my family more than anything. Rusty was a great musician, a talented songwriter, and a wonderful son. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the days ahead. I love you, son.”

On Easter, the band also announced that Duane Allen’s wife, singer Norah Lee Allen, had died at 76. In a second social media post, the band shared that Sterban’s wife, Donna, had also lost her father that same day.

Bonsall is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, daughters Jennifer and Sabrina, granddaughter Breanne, grandson Luke, two great grandsons, Chance and Grey, and a sister, Nancy. His family requests privacy at this time.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.