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The Mighty Clouds of Joy

Modern gospel’s preeminent group, the Mighty Clouds of Pleasure carried the torch for the original quartet vocal design throughout a time dominated by single acts and choirs; pioneering a distinctively funky audio that as time passes gained grudging approval actually among purists, they forced religious music in fresh and unpredicted directions, even rating a significant disco strike. The Mighty Clouds of Pleasure were created in LA through the ’50s by schoolmates Joe Ligon and Johnny Martin; while still within their teens, the initial group — which also included Leon Polk, Richard Wallace, and brothers Ermant and Elmo Franklin — produced their documented debut in 1960 with “Grab Away to Jesus,” trim for the Peacock label. Their debut LP, Family members Circle, appeared a year afterwards. In the years that implemented, the Mighty Clouds became a member of the rates of gospel’s ideal showmen; among the initial groups to include choreographed moves to their action, their nimble footwork and shiny, color-coordinated outfits gained them the sobriquet “The Temptations of Gospel.” Moreover, these were the initial group to include bass, drums, and keyboards to the typical quartet accompaniment of single guitar, producing a audio that horrified traditionalists but appealed to youthful listeners — therefore much so, actually, the fact that Mighty Clouds became the initial gospel action ever to seem on television’s Soul Teach, where they performed their disco smash “Mighty Great.” Their crossover achievement continued with starting slot machine games for secular pop superstars including Marvin Gaye, the Moving Rocks, and Paul Simon, whom the group supported throughout a monthlong stint at Madison Rectangular Backyard. While lineup adjustments plagued the Mighty Clouds throughout their profession, they remained energetic into the brand-new millennium; furthermore to co-founders Ligon and Wallace, their latter-day incarnation also included Paul Beasley, Michael McCowin, Wilbert Williams, Johnny Valentine, and Ron Staples. As the years advanced, Ligon required a far more supportive performing role, with business lead vocals performed by ex-Gospel Keynotes vocalist Beasley. Ligon passed away in Dec 2016 at age 80.

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