Home Free Honors The Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall: ‘Thank You For the Music’

The five Home Free members are speaking out after The Oak Ridge BoysJoe Bonsall announced he was retiring from touring, in the middle of their American Made: Farewell Tour, due to ongoing health issues.

“The Oak Ridge Boys are legends,” Home Free shared as part of a lengthy post on social media, praising the Country Music Hall of Fame members. “Most folks know that. What they may not know is how generous they are with their time, talents and energy. And nobody has more energy than Joe Bonsall.”

Home Free recalled their collaboration with The Oak Ridge Boys on “Elvira,” which appeared on the all-vocal group’s 2015 Country Evolution album, kicking off not only a new professional chapter for them, but a friendship with the legendary group as well.

“When we were just gaining our footing in country music, they went out of their way to give us their stamp of approval,” Home Free said. “That would have been enough to energize us indefinitely. But of course they didn’t stop there. They did what few artists would do – they handed over the reins to their biggest hit. Not only that, but they lended their voices to our outside-the-box version. But they didn’t stop there. They also carved out a portion of their valuable time at home to film a music video with us.

“It went viral (After that, it was suddenly easy to get other artists to work with us),” they continued. “But they didn’t stop there. They invited us to co-headline a show with them. We would have happily opened for our heroes. But no, they benevolently offered us equal billing. Truly humbling and inspiring.”

Home Free also reflected on the lessons they learned from all four of The Oak Ridge Boys’ members, but especially from Bonsall.

“Along the way, we were struck by a couple of things: how much fun they were still having and how much energy Joe had,” Home Free said. “Seemingly bottomless energy. If you’ve ever seen the Oak Ridge Boys live, then you know that there is not an inch of stage that Joe doesn’t cover, all while belting out tenor notes with an infectious smile on his face. And he was like that offstage as well. Now, consider that he’s been doing that for 50 years. And that’s just counting his time with the Oaks. Whew. When we heard that Joe was retiring from the road, it broke our hearts. Yet, it made sense. Joe’s body decided it was time. And that’s what it took because his spirit is indomitable. But if anyone has earned rest, it’s Joe Bonsall.

“Joe, thank you for the music,” they concluded. “Thank you for the smiles and laughter. Thank you for your time, energy, encouragement and brotherhood. You are one-of-kind, and you hold a special place in our hearts and history. We’re sending extra love to you, your family and your bandmates.”

Bonsall has been dealing with an ongoing health issue for several years, which unfortunately made him unable to continue life on the road.

“Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over four years now) of a neuromuscular disorder,” Bonsall said when announcing the news. “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.”

Read Home Free’s entire statement here.