After a remarkable five-decade tenure, Joe Bonsall, the tenor voice of The Oak Ridge Boys, steps down due to health challenges.
Joe Bonsall, a key figure in The Oak Ridge Boys for 50 years, announces his retirement from touring, citing health issues.
Joe Bonsall, who has been with The Oak Ridge Boys since 1973, is retiring from touring after battling a neuromuscular disorder that now impairs his mobility. Bonsall's career with the band began after he left The Keystones, a gospel group.
His unique tenor and vibrant stage presence have been a hallmark of The Oak Ridge Boys' performances. The group, known for hits like "Elvira," boasts over a dozen #1 songs and five Grammy Awards.
Replacing Bonsall is 27-year-old Ben James, a talented singer and songwriter. James, known for his previous work with Doyle Lawson's Quicksilver and Dailey & Vincent, brings a fresh dynamic to the band.
He has penned notable songs such as "I Hear You Calling" and "Teardrops in Tennessee." James' first performance with The Oak Ridge Boys occurred on December 30, following Bonsall's final show on December 17.
The Oak Ridge Boys had previously announced their farewell tour, The Oak Ridge Boys American Made Farewell Tour, in September. This tour marks the end of an era for the band and its fans. Despite Bonsall's departure, the group plans to continue their musical journey, returning to the studio with producer Dave Cobb later in January 2024.
Joe Bonsall's journey with The Oak Ridge Boys began in 1973, marking a significant shift in his musical career. He left The Keystones to join a group that would soon become a household name in country music.
Their 1981 hit "Elvira" is among the most memorable, contributing to their extensive collection of number-one hits and Grammy awards.
In a statement, Bonsall reflected on his career and the challenges that led to his retirement. He expressed gratitude for the support from the band, crew, staff, and fans. His words resonated with a sense of fulfillment and appreciation for the journey.
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.
Ben James shared his sentiments about stepping into Bonsall's shoes, particularly during the iconic "Elvira" performance. The moment was monumental for James, reflecting the deep influence of The Oak Ridge Boys on his musical upbringing.
James' introduction as Bonsall's replacement was a momentous occasion. Bonsall himself extended his blessings and encouragement to James, acknowledging the change in sound but expressing confidence in James' talent.
The Oak Ridge Boys continue their farewell tour with Ben James as the new tenor. Despite the changes, the group's spirit remains strong, with plans to return to the studio and create more music under the guidance of producer Dave Cobb.