Bill Gaither is paying tribute to The Oak Ridge Boys‘ Joe Bonsall, who recently announced he was retiring from touring, amid the group’s American Made: Farewell Tour, due to health concerns. The award-winning quartet often performed with Gaither and his wife, Gloria, as part of the famed Gaither Homecoming Series, forming a close friendship with the gospel music pioneer in the process.
“Joe Bonsall,” Gaither says in a video shared on social media, sharing clips of The Oak Ridge Boys’ performances through the years. “What is there not to love about his character not to love about his character? It is with deep appreciation and sincere friendship that Gloria and I send our best wishes to Joe Bonsall, on his retirement from the travel, performing part of his long career. He has brought so much joy to audiences all over the world. We will all miss not only his singing, but his energy and antics.”
Gaither also acknowledges Bonsall’s business endeavors that went far behind his time with the iconic country music group.
“Joe’s contribution is so much more than his stage presence,” Gaither shares. “His creativity as an author, and as a part of the larger country music community will, we hope, continue to shape the American landscape and culture and leadership.”
Gaither concludes by honoring Bonsall for their decades-long friendship, and the influence he had on Gaither and his wife through the years.
“Gloria and I count it a privilege to call ourselves friends of Joe, and recipients of his caring, his humor and his integrity,” Gaither says. “And, we look forward to his continued contribution to the fabric of our country. Joe Bonsall, bless you, my friend. 50 years-plus. You did it! And you did it with class. We salute you. The story continues. And let’s stay in touch.”
Bonsall is unable to continue touring, due to a neuromuscular disorder, which he has been battling for four years.
“I am now at a point where walking is impossible, so I have basically retired from the road,” Bonsall said when announcing the news. “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.”
The remaining dates on The Oak Ridge Boys’ American Made: Farewell Tour can be found at OakRidgeBoys.com.