We are sad to inform SoulTrackers of the death, at age 80, of legendary Gospel great, Joe Ligon, founder and lead singer of The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Under Ligon’s leadership, The Mighty Clouds took Gospel music to a new level of popularity and accessibility, incorporating R&B musical influences and delivering a more contemporary style that allowed the group to reach incredible heights of popularity, while also spreading the Word
The following statement was issued this evening on the Mighty Clouds of Joy Facebook Page:
We are heartbroken to share the news that the World’s Greatest Male Gospel Singer – Willie Joe Ligon, Founder and Lead Singer of the three time Grammy Award winning group – The Mighty Clouds of Joy of Los Angeles, California passed away today Sunday, December 11, 2016.
Joe was a loving Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Cousin, Uncle, Mentor, and Friend to so many who loved him dearly.
As much as Joe cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.
While we mourn the loss of a very good and humble man, we also celebrate his remarkable life as one of the most successful artists in Gospel Music History and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
For those who may ask what they can do to honor Joe, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a stormy day think of Joe and get comfort in knowing that he is no longer in the storm.
Additional information about the final arrangements will be released to the General Public pending Mr. Ligon’s Family’s approval.
We kindly ask everyone to please respect the Family’s privacy during this time of bereavement.
Pastor Isaac Lindsey
Joe Ligon & The Mighty Clouds of Joy
The Alabama-born Ligon traveled to Los Angeles as a teen and ultimately teamed with an immensely talented group of singers to create The Mighty Clouds of Joy in 1960. Included in the original lineup were Ligon, Johnny Martin, Ermant Franklin Jr., Artis Turnbough, Elmo Franklin, Richard Wallace, Leon Polk and David Walker.
Beginning with their 1960 hit “Steal Away to Jesus,” the Mighty Clouds blazed a trail that few before them had, especially stylistically. They began as a Gospel act only, and they charted more than two dozen albums on the Gospel charts, most hitting the Top 10. But the Mighty Clouds took their expansive sound to chart on the Pop, Soul and Disco charts. Among their biggest hits were “Time,” and “Mighty Cloud of Joy,” and “Ride the Mighty High.” In the process, they broke down barrier after barrier that had limited what faith-filled music could be. And, whatever the style, the songs were made that much better by Joe Ligon’s incredibly powerful lead vocals.
Many of Gospels all-time great groups, from the Winans to Commissioned, were aided by the barriers broken down by Joe Ligon and the Mighty Clouds in the 1970s, and both Soul and Gospel music have been incredibly influenced and blessed by Joe Ligon’s pioneering work. He will be missed and he will be celebrated for years to come.