“Many of you know I have been battling a slow onset (over four years now) of a neuromuscular disorder,” Bonsall, who has been performing while sitting down, explains. “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.”
Bonsall goes on to reveal who will be replacing him for the remainder of the dates on their final tour. William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen will remain as part of the group.
“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!” Bonsall says. “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 at a concert in West Virginia, where The Oak Ridge Boys were immediately impressed by his talent.
“Joe handed me the mic and said, ‘You’ve got the next verse,’ West recalls. “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.”
Bonsall, the youngest member of The Oak Ridge Boys, joined the iconic group in 1973, making him the newest member of the quartet.
“I was 25 years old in 1973 when I joined the Oak Ridge Boys,” Bonsall said when their American Made: Farewell Tour was announced “I am 75 years old in 2023 and I am STILL an Oak Ridge Boy. I was the last to join a group that had already been a part of music history. Richard Sterban had joined the year before in 1972 after touring with The Stamps Quartet and ELVIS for a few years. Before that Richard and I sang together for almost six years. I loved the OAKS… they were cutting [edge] Gospel group and I was a huge fan.
“William Lee and Duane and I became great friends as well long before I joined,” he continues. “In fact Duane produced 10 albums on The Keystones, the group I sang with before joining the OAKS. WLG first joined the group in 1965 and Duane has been singing here since 1966 and together the four of us have managed to live out every dream we have ever dreamed and a whole lot more.”
All of the remaining dates on The Oak Ridge Boys’ American Made: Farewell Tour can be found at OakRidgeBoys.com.
Photo Credit: Brandon Wood