People would show up to revivals because they had heard about this country singer who sang like a black man. Brother Claude Ely would thrash his guitar, shake and gyrate from one part of the stage to the other. Young men would run up to wipe the sweat off his forehead.
Gladys Presley, Elvis' mother, was a fan of Brother Claude Ely's ministry, and some people remember Gladys and Elvis getting blessed at Brother Claude Ely tent revivals while Brother Claude Ely laid hands on them and prayed for them.
Ain’t No Grave: The Life and Legacy of Brother Claude Ely is written as an oral, biographical history taken from the recorded interviews of more than 1,000 people in the Appalachian Mountains who knew Brother Claude Ely. Coined as the King Recording Label’s “Gospel Ranger,” Brother Claude Ely was well-known and loved by many in the earlier part of the 20th century as both a religious singer-songwriter and a Pentecostal-Holiness preacher. Few people, however, knew the personal details of his childhood, military service, and years of hard work in the coal fields of southwestern Virginia.
Now, decades after his legendary death, many fans still seem mesmerized and touched by this humble man’s quick wit and sincere desire to share the Gospel’s “Good News” with everyone who would listen to his message of hope and love. Having received popularity for his song, “There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” Brother Claude Ely passed along a musical and spiritual influence which can still be heard today like a mountain echo in those long, winding hollows and impoverished coal fields. Hollywood and the “King of Rock and Roll” also later acknowledged their admiration for and fascination with the late Brother Claude Ely. This book chronicles the life of one man who made an eternal impact on thousands of Appalachian dwellers. His simple sermons and folkloric songs are still providing assurance, hope, and faith to many mountain people