Joe Ligon, whose raspy, throbbing vocals and preaching style helped make the Mighty Clouds of Joy one of the most successful gospel quartets of all time, died on Sunday. He was 80.
Pastor Isaac Lindsey, the group’s manager, announced the death on the Mighty Clouds of Joy website. He did not say where Mr. Ligon died or specify the cause.
Mr. Ligon, a full-throttle singer with a powerful voice reminiscent of Wilson Pickett’s, founded the Mighty Clouds of Joy in the 1950s with several classmates at Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. In a break with tradition, the group added bass, drums and keyboards to the standard guitar backup and developed a funky sound that split the difference between gospel and rhythm and blues.
Unlike other gospel groups, its members dressed stylishly — they used the same tailor as the Temptations — and worked slick choreography into their act.
“We didn’t want to just sit up there like other groups like we were playing at a funeral,” Mr. Ligon (pronounced le-GAHN) told The Washington Post in 2003. “We used to come out in red, purple, all the loud colors you could think of.”
For the complete story, visit TheNewYorkTimes.com/Arts/Music.