Naomi Judd, the Country Music icon best known as being one half of the duet of The Judds with her daughter Wyonna as well as the mother of actress Ashley Judd has died. She was 76 years old.
The family issued a statement to the Associated Press confirming the cause of death due to mental illness: “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
The Judds were scheduled to be inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 1st and were scheduled to embark on “The Final Tour” – their first tour in more than decade.
Born Diana Ellen Judd, Judd originally was a nursing school student when she started singing with her daughter Wyonna to ease mother daughter tensions. Eventually she moved her family to Nashville and formed “The Judds” with Wyonna. The Judds would go on to become one of the most famous mother-daughter teams in music history. The duo scored 20 Top 10 hits (including 15 Number Ones). The duo also won five Grammy Awards. Naomi also had a career in acting including a small role in the motion picture More American Graffitti.
Some of the Judd’s hits included Grandpa, Give a Little Love, Love Can Build a Bridge, Mama He’s Crazy, Why Not Me, Turn It Loose, Girls Night Out, Love is Alive, and Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain.
In 1991, after selling more than 20 million albums, the Judds came to an end when Naomi was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. The duo’s farewell concert one of the most successful musical event in cable pay-per-view history. Judd continued to act sporadically before reuniting with Wyonna in 1999.
In addition to being survived by her daughters, Naomi is survived by husband Larry Strickland.