Country Chatter

Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys Announces Retirement from Touring


Joe Bonsall, who has been a part of the Country Music Hall of Fame group The Oak Ridge Boys for over 50 years, has announced that he will be retiring from the road.

Bonsall has been dealing with an ongoing neuromuscular disorder for over four years and his decision was based on his heath issue.

“I am now at a point where walking is impossible, so I have basically retired from the road. It has just gotten too difficult,” Bonsall said in a statement. “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.”

Bonsall and his Oak Ridge Boys bandmates Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban have had more than a dozen No. 1 Hot Country Songs hits, including their signature 1981 hit “Elvira,” which earned the group one of their five Grammy wins.

Bonsall’s replacement on the road will be Ben James, 27, who had previously worked with Doyle Lawson’s band Quicksilver and Dailey & Vincent’s band. James also is a  songwriter, having composed “I Hear You Calling” and “Teardrops in Tennessee” as part of his recent solo album Wonderland.

Bonsall introduced James to Oak Ridge Boys fans in his statement, saying, “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!!!”

James was introduced to The Oak Ridge Boys during a 2022 concert in Wheeling, West Virginia, where Dailey & Vincent shared the bill with The Oak Ridge Boys. Bonsall’s final show was on Dec. 17, while James’s first show with the group took place Dec. 30.

In September, the group announced The Oak Ridge Boys American Made Farewell Tour, with a full schedule of shows for 2024, including June 7 & 8 at the Hartville Kitchen in Hartville, Ohio. They also plan to return to the studio with producer Dave Cobb later this month, but it is not certain if Bonsall will record with the band on the new Cobb-produced project.

The Oak Ridge Boys American Made Farewell Tour:

Jan 20: The Grand 1894 Opera House – Galveston, Texas
Jan. 21: The Grand 1894 Opera House – Galveston, Texas
Feb. 2: Boot Barn Hall (Gainesville) – Gainesville, Ga.
Feb. 11: San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo – San Antonio, Texas
Feb. 29: Florida Strawberry Festival 2024 – Plant City, Fla.
March 2: Montgomery Performing Arts Centre – Montgomery, Ala.
March 15: Foxwoods Resort Casino – Ledyard, Conn.
March 16: American Music Theatre – Lancaster, Pa.
March 17: American Music Theatre – Lancaster, Pa.
March 23: Sugar Creek Casino – Hinton, Okla.
April 4: Oxford Performing Arts Center – Oxford, Ala.
April 5: City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium – Morganton, N.C.
April 6: Alabama Theatre North – Myrtle Beach, S.C.
April 10: Clay County Agricultural Fair – Green Cove Springs, Fla.
May 17: Peoples Bank Theatre – Marietta, Ohio
May 18: The Oak Ridge Boys American Made Farewell Tour – Defiance, Ohio
June 7: Hartville Kitchen – Hartville, Ohio
June 8: Hartville Kitchen – Hartville, Ohio
Sept. 15: Kansas State Fair – Hutchinson, Kansas

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