Joe Bonsall Bows Out of Oak Ridge Boys Farewell Tour

The Oak Ridge Boys announced they would be going on a farewell tour in September of 2023 that would last into 2024. For 50 years, it’s been Joe Bonsall, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Richard Sterban comprising the Hall of Fame band whose history goes all the way back to 1947 as a gospel quartet. But due to health issues, Joe Bonsall is having to bow out, officially retiring from the road.

“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.”

Joe Bonsall has been battling against the onset of an unnamed neuromuscular disorder for a number of years. When Saving Country Music saw The Oak Ridge Boys perform in 2023, Bonsall was forced to sit on a stool for the entire show, and needed assistance getting on and off of the stage.

For The Oak Ridge Boys, this marks the end of an era. Bonsall joined the quartet in 1973 after singing with the Gospel group The Keystones previously. His signature tenor helped set the table for The Oaks’ Hall of Fame run that saw them mint a dozen #1 songs in country, along with their success in Gospel. Many considered Bonsall the de facto leader of the band, and he was often the most vocal member on stage between songs.

As The Oak Ridge Boys continue their farewell tour, Bonsall will be replaced by singer and songwriter Ben James. The 27-year-old has been a part of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver in the past, as well as Dailey & Vincent who have close ties to The Oaks. Ben James is also a solo artist, releasing the album Wonderland in 2023. James was introduced to The Oaks during a 2022 concert in Wheeling, West Virginia where he sang with them while touring in Dailey & Vincent.

“Joe handed me the mic and said, ‘You’ve got the next verse,’” James recalls about his first time singing with the band. “And I’m not sure I will ever get over that moment. ‘Elvira’ was always on repeat when I was growing up. It’s still one of those timeless songs that never grow old.”

Another Dailey & Vincent member, bass singer Aaron McCune, has filled in for Richard Sterban in The Oaks upon occasion as well.

“[Ben James] 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!!!,” says Joe Bonsall.

Joe played his final show on December 17th at the Egyptian Theatre in Dekalb, Illinois. The first Ben James appearance with The Oak happened on December 30th at Harlow’s Casino Resort in Greenville, Mississippi. The 2024 Oak Ridge Boys Farewell Tour dates can be seen below.


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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