RIP: Richard Wallace of the Mighty Clouds of Joy

Photo Credit: KLTV.com

By Bob Marovich

JGM was saddened to learn from Debra Ligon and Libra Boyd’s post that singer and guitarist Richard Wallace of the Mighty Clouds of Joy passed away Monday, July 27, 2020.

According to essays by Opal Nations, Richard Edward Wallace was born June 9, 1940, in Austin, Texas. He and his brother Lee O’Daniel migrated west to Los Angeles and, in 1956, joined the Stars of Bethel, a quartet that included cousins from Texas who had moved to LA ahead of them. The quartet later changed its name to the Stars of Bethlehem and cut an album for Ensign Records in 1960.

Sometime that same year, Wallace, along with members of the Sensational Wonders quartet Ermant Franklin, Elmo Franklin, Leon Polk, David Walker, and former Clouds member-turned-Sensational-Wonder Willie Joe Ligon, joined Johnny Martin in a reconstituted version of the Mighty Mighty Clouds of Joy. Shortly thereafter, the quartet signed a long-term contract with Peacock Records, leaving one “Mighty” off their name.

Interestingly, Wallace had recorded for Peacock two years prior to the signing, when he played guitar behind the Alpha-Omega Singers’ 1958 sides for the Houston-based imprint.

In 2005, Wallace told Clint Yeatts of KLTV that he got saved while a member of the Clouds. “I lived, I call it a sinful life,” Wallace said. “Singing for God on the stage but not living for Him after I left the stage. Although I was in the church I was not living saved, but then God saved me. What I mean be that he gave me his Holy Ghost, the peace within to know that He is the reason I even exist.”

The Mighty Clouds of Joy went on to win GRAMMY Awards and become one of the top quartets of the 1960s and 1970s.

Wallace remained with the Clouds for the remainder of his career, leaving the parent group in 2010 to form his own iteration of the Mighty Clouds.

JGM extends its sympathies to the family, friends, and many fans of the late Richard Wallace.

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

17 comments

  1. Debra Ligon Morris

    Mr Bob as always your ability with the pen to speak to who and what are relative is amazing … thank you for taking the time to honor and celebrate a life dedicated to gospel music … when people think of Clouds they immediately think Joe Ligon, but Mr Richard Wallace booked, managed for many years, actually most of the years and made it possible for Mr Ligon to focus solely on singing… they were brothers, they were friends, they were comrades, in gospel and in life…

    Richard Wallace is officially the last original who went on the road with the Clouds, making it the end of a long standing, era… Now he joins the amazing cast of Clouds that proceeded him in Glory…

    Rest Well Sir

    • Thank you, Debra – they are singing in glory, indeed! Shouting, troubles over.

    • Pastor Mary Clarke

      I am so y to hear of Richard’s passing. I knew he was the last original. I always remembered him from way back when I was a child. I was always a die hard quartet fan HE WILL BE SURELY BE MISSED.

  2. God’s Grace and Mercy will carry you thru

  3. Rest well Mr. Richard Wallace

  4. To God be the glory.
    sending my condolences
    Rest easy mr. wallace

    • Andronicus Seals

      I grew up listening to the Mighty Clouds of Joy, I even had my own little group at 13 signing their songs.

      • Veronica Shareef

        To God be the glory for giving the talents to these men to lift their voices in praise. So inspirational and touched by so many hearts.

  5. A WONDERFUL INDIVIDUAL THAT PERFORMED FOR SO MANY. THE MIGHTY CLOUDS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!

  6. IT WAS A PLEASURE FOR ME TO SING WITH RICHARD FOR TWO YEARS AS THE LEAD SINGER OF HIS MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY AND I BEGAN TO LOVE LOVE HIM HE SHOWED ME MANY THINGS ABOUT THE ROAD SHOW ME PLACES IN FLY ME PLACES I NEVER BEEN BEFORE SO I HONOR RICHARD WALLACE AS TAKING ME IN AS TO BE THE LEAD SINGER WHEN HE SEPARATED FOR THAT MOMENT FROM JOLLA HE’S THE BEST FRIEND THAT I KNOW AND HE WILL CALL MY WIFE DIDN’T KNOW WHETHER TO GET IN CONTACT WITH ME BECAUSE IT’S HARD TO CATCH ME BUT TO THE WILD FAMILY FROM ME AND MY WIFE EBONY STAPLES WE PRAY FOR STRENGTH AND RICHARD YOU ALL WILL BE MISSED

  7. Pastor Mary Clarke

    I am so y to hear of Richard’s passing. I knew he was the last original. I always remembered him from way back when I was a child. I was always a die hard quartet fan HE WILL BE SURELY BE MISSED.

  8. We are so sorry and sadden to hear about Richard Wallace passing. He will be surely missed. We love you! Rest with God! God bless his family!

  9. So sorry to hear of Richard’s passing. I would like to offer my condolences to the family. Another great one is gone but now they are all together again up there singing and praising the Lord! Richard and the Clouds were truly a group of great guys who I counted as really good friends. I’m not going to say goodbye but I will say see ya later!

  10. Mighty Clouds of one of my favorite groups Joe Jim and Joan Richard Johnny Martin known as choked Emirate Franklin The Mighty Clouds of my favorite groups Joe Jimmy Jones Johnny Martin Richard Wallace Emirate Franklin and Elmo Franklin they were the best as far as I am concerned after the Dixie Hummingbirds our group the silver stars of Raleigh song a lot of The Mighty Clouds of Joy song Especially make a step

  11. George. A. Kimble

    Mr. Richard Wallace will be missed by many condolences go out to his family from the silver stars of Raleigh North Carolina

  12. Veronica Shareef

    To God be the glory for giving the talents to these men to lift their voices in praise. So inspirational and touched by so many hearts.

  13. Mr. Wallace was the creator of one of Gospel Quartet Music’s iconic bass lines. Often immatated but never duplicatedl
    RIH, Sir!

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