Naomi Judd death: Country music star dies aged 76

Naomi Judd, the country music star and one half of Grammy award-winning duo The Judds, has died at the age of 76.

Her daughter, the actor Ashley Judd, announced her mother’s death in a statement on Instagram on Saturday (30 April), saying that she and her sister Wynonna have been left “shattered” by the news.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered,” she wrote.

“We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public.

“We are in unknown territory.”

Naomi’s husband Larry Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley, told The Associated Press that his wife had died near Nashville, Tennessee, as he asked for privacy for their family at this time.

No further details are known about the 76-year-old’s death, which comes just one day before she was about to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and a few months before she was set to take to the stage again later this year.

The Judds, made up of Naomi and her daughter Wynonna, announced earlier this year that they were embarking on a 10-date “Final Tour” starting in September.

The duo were due to be honoured in the Hall of Fame on Sunday 1 May.

Just two weeks ago, they had reunited for their first TV performance in over two decades to sing their classic 1990s hit “Love Can Build a Bridge” at the CMT Music Awards.

Ashley Judd announces the death of her mother (Ashley Judd/Instagram)
Ashley Judd announces the death of her mother (Ashley Judd/Instagram)

As news of Naomi’s death broke, tributes began pouring in on social media, with Grammy award-winning artist Travis Tritt calling the news “heartbreaking”.

“This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known,” he tweeted.

“I had the honour of working with her in movies and numerous musical events. My deepest heartfelt condolences go out to her family.”

Maren Morris also paid tribute to the country music star, remembering her last performance before her death.

“Honoured to have witnessed ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ just a few short weeks ago,” the singer wrote.

“I’m very sad to hear that Naomi Judd has passed away. Rest In Peace. Sending love and light to Ashley and Wynonna and all who love her,” Rosanna Arquette tweeted.

In 2017, Naomi spoke out about her battle with mental illness and how her depression would often leave her feeling “immobilised”.

“I didn’t get off my couch for two years,” she told NBC’s Today show.

“I was so depressed that I couldn’t move... It’s hard to describe. You go down in this deep, dark hole of depression and you don’t think that there’s another minute.”

Born in Kentucky, Naomi started out as a nurse before she and Wynonna began performing together as The Judds back in the early 1980s.

They went on to win five Grammys and had 14 number one songs including popular country music hits “Mama He’s Crazy” and “Why Not Me”.

After three decades of performing, the mother-daughter group bowed out of the spotlight in 1991 when Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis.

In 2011, they made a comeback with a Farewell Tour before reuniting earlier this month at the CMT Music Awards.

Naomi leaves behind her two daughters and husband of 32 years.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

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