Yesterday, Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd delivered the horribly surprising news that their mother, Naomi Judd of The Judds, had died. The tragic news was sudden to many since The Judds were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame today, and a few weeks ago, they announced that they were going to tour for the first time in 10 years and it would be their final tour. Wynonna and Ashley said in their statement that they lost their mother to mental illness, which Naomi Judd struggled with through most of her life and has been very open about it. Naomi Judd was 76.
Here’s the heartbreaking statement from Wynnona and Ashley:
Naomi’s husband of 33 years, Larry Strickland, said in his statement to People that the family wants privacy during this extremely difficult time and they’re not releasing any details about her death at this time.
Just a few weeks ago, The Judds made an appearance at the CMT Music Awards where Naomi served loads and loads of ginger Velma Von Tussle glamour:
Naomi Judd was born Diane Ellen Judd on January 11, 1946 in Ashland, Kentucky. When she was 18, she gave birth to her first child, Christina Clarie who would later become Wynonna Judd. Wynnona’s biological father, Charles Jordan, abandoned Naomi when she was pregnant. Naomi married her first husband, Michael Ciminella, in 1964, and 4 years later, she gave birth to a daughter they named Ashley Tyler Ciminella (and who would later become Ashley Judd). The family moved to California, and Naomi and Michael ended up divorcing in 1972. Naomi was a single parent and worked as a model, nurse, waitress, and secretary to support herself and her daughters.
Naomi, Wynonna, and Ashley moved to Tennessee in 1979 and that’s when The Judds were born. Naomi and Wynonna recorded a demo, which Naomi passed around to anybody who would listen to it and her hustling paid off because they were eventually signed to RCA/Curb. The EP, Wynonna & Naomi, was released in 1984, and their first full album, Why Not Me, was released later that year. On that album was Mama He’s Crazy, their first of 14 #1 hits on Billboard’s country charts. The song won The Judds their first Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal The Judds went on to win that award four more times. Here’s the video for Mama He’s Crazy. Come for the beautiful yodels of Wynonna and Naomi, and stay for Naomi’s hauntingly glamorous glares through a window.
After Why Not Me, The Judds made five more studio albums with their last one, Love Can Build a Bridge, coming out in 1990. They also released several compilation albums and a Christmas album. Their #1 hits include Girls’ Night Out, Have Mercy, Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days), Rockin’ with the Rythym of the Rain, Turn It Loose, and I Know Where I’m Going. One of The Judds’ most recognizable songs, to me, is Love Can Build a Bridge, which was not a #1 hit on Billboard but has been a #1 hit on my Apple Music. Here are The Judds performing it at this year’s CMT Music Awards:
The Judds disbanded in the early-90s after Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C and Wynonna went solo. They reunited a few times throughout the years. As I mentioned above, The Judds were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Hall of Fame today, and the ceremony will go on. Wynnona is expected to attend.
After The Judds broke up, Naomi really got into acting (she made her screen debut in 1979’s More American Graffiti), and was in episodes of Frasier, Sisters, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Touched by an Angel, as well as several TV movies.
In 2016, Naomi released her memoir, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, where she wrote about her battle with depression and said that things really got dark in 2012 after The Judds’ wrapped a reunion tour. Naomi said that doctors tried everything on her until they finally diagnosed her with treatment-resistant, severe depression.
And the world of country music is feeling the loss of a legend:
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and fellow Kentuckian, Naomi Judd. Naomi was always so special to be with. She accomplished so much and she will be missed and loved forever. My prayers go out to Naomi and her family.❤️🙏🏻❤️ pic.twitter.com/Us57t9bfsj
— Crystal Gayle (@TheCrystalGayle) April 30, 2022
Country music lost a true legend…sing with the angels, Naomi!!! We’re all sending up prayers for the Judd family today…
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) April 30, 2022
I'm so very sorry for my friend @Wynonna. I'm praying her and @AshleyJudd can survive THIS. The biggest hurdle they will ever have. My prayers and thoughts go out to the entire @TheNaomiJudd family! It brings tears to my heart. Rest easy angel!
❤️ Tanya Tucker
— Tanya Tucker (@tanyatucker) April 30, 2022
RIP Naomi Judd. My mom taught me seemingly every one of your songs. She’d sing them often and loud. You left Country Music better than you found it.
— Bobby Bones (@mrBobbyBones) April 30, 2022
Rest In Peace, Naomi Judd. Honored to have witnessed “Love Can Build a Bridge” just a few short weeks ago. 🤍😔
— MAREN MORRIS (@MarenMorris) April 30, 2022
Rest in peace, Naomi Judd.
Pic: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images