Elmo Franklin of the Mighty Clouds of Joy Passes Away

Gospel music authorities Rev. Lawrence Roberts and Gregory Gay informed TBGB that Elmo Franklin, an original member of the Mighty Clouds of Joy of Los Angeles, California, passed from labor to reward last week.

Franklin, Willie Joe Ligon, Richard Wallace and Johnny Martin were the four founding members of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. The quartet formed in the mid-1950s as a hard-shouting quartet in keeping with the style of the times, and through the intercession of RnB artist turned gospel DJ Brother Henderson, came to the attention of Peacock Records. There the quartet churned out hit after hit.

Working with the hitmaking production team of Gamble and Huff, the Clouds changed their sound in the mid 1970s to stay relevant in a genre moving toward a softer, jazzier vibe. The decision may have perplexed gospel music enthusiasts at the time, but proved ultimately to be a wise business decision. The Clouds were the first gospel quartet to appear on “Soul Train” and eventually became one of the most popular and best-known gospel quartets of all time, earning Grammy Awards, appearances on major television shows and motion pictures, and the opportunity to sing before U.S. Presidents.

Franklin, born October 8, 1936, was originally from Louisiana.

Homegoing services are scheduled to take place in Los Angeles. As additional information is available, TBGB will let you know.

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.


  1. My sympathy goes to the family of this great pioneer in Gospel Music. He will be missed but always be remembered through the continuation of the Mighty Clouds of Joy performances all over the world.
    Winston-Salem, NC

  2. From my family and I, we extend our condolences to the Frankin family and to the MCOJ.

    Elmo was a great artist, singing various voices, lead, bass, baritone to tenor.

    He was a great friend to our family.

    R.I.P Elmo. We love you.


    WNCU-90.7 FM

  4. Bless everyone for your fine comments about Bro. Franklin!

  5. I had the privilege of introducing my brother Elmo Franklin to the Mighty Clouds of Joy back in the 50’s when he came to Los Angeles from Oakland, CA. The acquaintance began first with my brother, Ermant Jr. Franklin, who was manager, guitarist, and tenor singer of the group for many years who is not mentioned here.
    Elmo became as a brother to us and we treated him and claimed kinship to him by virtue of the “Franklin” surname. He will always be missed and I know that he and my brother “Jr” are somewhere around the throne singing the songs they once did that made them the Mighty Clouds of Joy.
    Dorothy Franklin-Henderson

  6. I regret that my biological brother, Ermant, “Jr” Franklin who played a key role in the organization and success of the Mighty Clouds of Joy is often overlooked. It was through him and his booking contacts that the Clouds went on to success. In his obituary, Jan. 1996, I explained the true origin of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. We must never forget those who were key players to our success. If the truth be told, it was “I” who introduced Elmo to my brother, Jr. who, in turn, intorduced him to the other members of the Clouds of Joy. Let’s set the record straight.

    A loving sister,
    Dorothy Franklin-Henderson

  7. I am conducting research on the “TRUE’ establishment of the beginning stages of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. As daughter to the late Elmo Franklin, I also feel that it necessary to give acknowledgement to those who played an essential role in the past and future existence of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. For those, especially Dorothy Franklin-Henderson, I challenge you to aid me in rewalking my father’s successful gospel career. I have enabled all follow up comments to be forwarded to my personal email.

  8. What a great idea, Elmosdaughter! Let me know how The Black Gospel Blog can assist you as well.

  9. I’d like to know why there are no findings of the ORIGINAL VERSION of “GOD IS NOT DEAD” featuring ELMO FRANKLIN??There is no comparison!!CAN ANYONE HELP ME FIND THE ORIGINAL PLEASE?????

  10. To elmosdaughter. I am the mother of Elmo’s youngest son. I would like to put you into contact with your brother. Please contact me at rmj1122@yahoo.com.

  11. OK…How do I say this with only words? I have a story for which I was told as a child which has forever placed a hole in my heart. Can someone from Elmore’s Family contact me please.
    kenup81@yahoo.com as soon as possible.


  12. To Elmo’s daughter and Dorthy Franklin, we possibly have something in common.

    Please let this comment be seen.



  13. hi my name is charles from farmerville louisana,its gud to see his daughter an sis speaking up on stuff not mention on Bro Elmo.I song with Bro Elmo on his last years of retirement,i havea copy some where wher he sing if god is dead at church with us .email is young1969boy@att.net

  14. I was very honored and lucky to have met Mr. Franklin in the 90’s. He was living in louisiana and he would come in K&B drugs. I always wondered what happened to him. He will be missed. Mr. Franklin never knew how he touched my life. He would laugh and joke while waiting on his meds. Rest in peace.

  15. Would someone from Elmo’s Other Family e-mail me. Kenup81@yahoo.com

    Thanks many blessings

  16. This is Elmo son Elmo JR if Sharnetta reads this call me 850-221 4338

  17. This is Dedric.. Elmos nephew…my grandmother Eunice McDonald was Elmo’s sister in law any questions call me @323 830 4314 Uncle Elmo Rest in Peace love u!

  18. This is Dedric Elmo’s nephew. My grandmother Eunice Mcdonald was Elmo’s sister in law. I wanna send love to Uncle Elmo rest in peace! Anybody with more info call me @323 830 4314 Dee

  19. To all of you, this is Elmo Franklin’s son from Miami. I am one of his older sons. Everyone says that we look so much alike. I found my brother Kenny. Thank you so much for helping us find him, as well as my other brothers and sisters. If there are any other siblings on this blog, feel free to email me through my website: cfglighting.com.

    Thank you all,
    He still lives.


  20. I am an old friend of Elmo and saddened by his passing.We had a special friendship that stemed back to the1950’s The Clouds often stopped through Lumberton to have dinner with my family and my sisters and I joined them at the Apollo during their first visit there. Please send me a photo and please let me know how I can obtain some of HIS recordings.. My number is 910-978-2071 PO BOX9114 FAYETTEVILLE, NC 28311

  21. I’m the last child of Elmo Franklin’s I had the pleasure of meeting my big sister Shawnetta Franklin, and her telling me about my siblings. I never really got to know him, but I from all that Shawnetta has shared he has left a lil of him in all of us. So one should diffently write a book on this group and remind this generation of good gospel music that does something to your soul. Feeling completed 2016

  22. I had the pleasure of meeting mr. Franklin back in I want to say 85 or 86 I was in college and they came to this college perform The Mighty Clouds of Joy and I felt like a kid in the candy store shaking mr. Elmo has hand after they perform I would like to know more about mr. Franklin and how they got started I’m a gospel fanatic and I thank God for the clouds of joy in The Gospel Keynotes forgotten me into singing gospel and looking at mr. Franklin and mr. Martin’s enjoying themselves singing on stage I tried a pattern my style but I mean the background up there footwork thank God for what’s the Franklin and all those that have paved the way and their story should be told it should not be a secret