Larry Strickland is the gospel-trained husband of singer Naomi Judd. He was married to her for more than 30 years before her surprise death.
Judd died at the age of 76, her daughters, Ashley and Wynonna Judd, confirmed in a joint statement on April 30, 2022.
There is evidence that the death came as a surprise. TMZ reported that the death came as a “shock,” in part because Naomi and Wynonna were due to depart on a rare arena tour later this year.
However, People Magazine reported through sources that Judd died by suicide. The medical examiner’s office in Nashville told Heavy, “We are only giving out information to the family at this time.”
According to TODAY, Judd died one day before she was supposed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Judds Said They Lost Their Mother ‘to the Disease of Mental Illness’ But Her Husband Is Not Commenting
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According to Daily Variety, Judd’s publicist released a statement saying that Strickland, her husband of 32 years, “will not be making any further statements. Naomi Judd’s family request privacy during this heartbreaking time. No additional information will be released at this time.”
Journalist Micah Kennedy wrote in a story posted on the website of News Channel 5, a television station in Nashville, that Judd “has died after taking her own life.” However, the family has not confirmed that, he did not cite a source, and his story was later updated to remove that statement.
Naomi’s daughters described themselves as “shattered.”
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “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.” According to the Associated Press, “The statement did not elaborate further.”
According to Country Fancast, Strickland is not the father of Ashley or Wynonna. Wynonna’s father is Naomi’s ex-boyfriend Charles Jordan, and Ashley’s father is her first husband, Michael Ciminella.
Naomi Judd lived in Franklin, Tennessee. Heavy is trying to contact Williamson County’s medical examiner. The on-call investigator with the county coroner’s office for Nashville, Tennessee, said she could not comment when asked if the office is handling Judd’s death. She said the office, which was closed, would need to be contacted on the next business day.
2. Strickland, the Son of a Preacher, Started Singing With Gospel Quartets
According to his website, Strickland was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son “of a preacher who loved Gospel Music.”
He attended his first gospel concert at age 12, and “he started singing with gospel quartets traveling all over the state of North Carolina until he was forced to join the military in 1966,” the bio says.
“After spending four years serving in the US Army with the National Security Agency in Frankfurt, Germany, he continued singing with gospel quartets in and around North Carolina.”
Judd once said they had a lot in common, according to Closer Weekly, which quoted her as saying, “We come from common background. Larry and I are both from a family of six, very blue collar. He worked in the tobacco fields every summer. My daddy had his own gas station and taught me the hard work ethic. Larry is the most humble person I’ve ever met.”
She told Closer of their 25th wedding anniversary: “We might go to Red Lobster. I’m tired of Cracker Barrel. We are so normal. Right now, he’s out on a Bush Hog [mower] on the farm and the big excitement is he found a rattler last week. That’s how we live.”
Strickland’s top post on Facebook, from April 2022, reads:
I’m really looking forward to going to Vienna, Salzburg and Bad Homburg this month. Going to be exciting to visit these cities and equally exciting to sing with Dennis Jale. Dennis is a native Austrian and very popular in his part of the world. He has a great band and sings his butt off. Going to be fun.
In 2020, he shared a photo of himself with Judd on his Facebook page and wrote, “Happy days.”
3. Strickland Was a Backup Singer for Elvis Presley
According to The Associated Press, Judd’s husband Larry Strickland is a singer “who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.”
Strickland’s website bio says,
It wasn’t long before his voice was noticed by the legendary JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. In 1974, Larry was asked to join the group and overnight, he went from singing in regional quartets in the south to touring and recording with Elvis Presley.
He remained with Elvis until Presley died in 1977.
“Following Elvis’s death, Larry continued to perform with the Stamps. In 1979 he met an unknown red headed dynamo who went on to form one of the biggest duo’s in music history with her daughter. Larry and Naomi Judd have been married now for over 30 Years,” his bio reads.
According to The Boot, Judd and Strickland “wed at Christ Church in Nashville in 1989, with both of Judd’s daughters, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd, serving as bridesmaids.”
4. Strickland Spoke Publicly About Naomi’s Long Struggles With Depression
Strickland spoke about his wife’s depression in an interview with “Good Morning America.” In that interview, he discussed family members of people with depression, saying, “Get ready to walk that path with them, because they’re gonna need, they’re gonna need you every minute.”
In 2017, Naomi opened up to the TODAY show about her struggles with depression, which she revealed were so severe that she contemplated suicide. The headline on that story reads, “Naomi Judd reveals she considered suicide while in ‘dark hole of depression.'”
“I didn’t get off my couch for two years,” Naomi said in that interview. “I was so depressed that I couldn’t move… My husband (Larry Strickland) and my girlfriends and Ashley would come over and I would just go upstairs and lock the door to my bedroom… You become immobilized.”
According to ABC News, Judd previously revealed that childhood sexual abuse contributed to her depression, which she described as “extreme” and “so deep and so completely debilitating and life-threatening.”
Judd told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America”:
I had to realize that, in a way, I had to parent myself. We all have this inner child, and I needed, for the first time in my life, to realize that I got a raw deal, OK, now I’m a big girl. Put on your big girl pants and deal with it.
5. The Judds Rose to Musical Success from the Appalachian Foothills of Kentucky
On her website bio, Judd describes how she rose from the “Appalachian foothills of Ashland, Kentucky,” finding success as a “mother and daughter duo” called The Judds.
The Judds – Naomi and Wynonna – were “first discovered by RCA label head Joe Galante in 1983 after landing a spot on WSM-TV’s ‘The Ralph Emery Show,'” the bio says.
“For the rest of the 1980’s, each single from The Judds released by RCA went to the Billboard Top 10, with 14 hits going all the way to number one. The Judds swept the CMA’s Vocal Group/Duo category from 1985 to 1991 and garnered six GRAMMY® Awards,” the bio reads.
She retired from singing due to her health in 1991.