Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

The Gospel Ranger

One of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded before he died was called, “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).”

But that song is not a Johnny Cash original. “Ain’t No Grave” was actually written in 1934, by a 12-year-old boy on his deathbed. A boy who – instead of dying – went on to become a Pentecostal preacher. A boy who would later help inspire the birth of Rock & Roll.

His name was Brother Claude Ely…and he was known as The Gospel Ranger.



The Radio Diaries Podcast is produced by Joe Richman, Nellie Gilles, and Sarah Kate Kramer. Our editors are Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. We have support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowments for the Arts, the New York Council on the Arts, and many others. We are a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

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