The Judds were country music’s top duo for the decade of the ‘80s. In other words, they were Brooks & Dunn before there was a Brooks & Dunn. From 1984 through 1990 they were the Academy of Country Music’s Top Vocal Duo and from 1985 to 1991 they were Country Music Association’s Vocal Group/Duo of the Year. The mother and daughter team also won five Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
The Judds are comprised of Naomi Judd and her daughter Wynonna Judd (actress Ashley Judd is Naomi’s youngest daughter and Wynonna’s sister). The duo ascended to stardom thanks to their amazing harmonies and a highly polished mix of traditional country music and pop aesthetics.
The Judds released their first album, Why Not Me, in 1984 and their fifth and final, Love Can Build a Bridge, in 1990. Their first three LPs peaked at number one on the country charts while their last two peaked at two and five respectively. All but their 1989 offering, River of Time, have been certified Platinum by the RIAA. They also scored a number one platter with their 1988 greatest hits collection.
From 1984 through 1986, The Judds racked up eight straight number one country singles. After “Don’t Be Cruel” (the same song made famous by Elvis Presley) stalled at number ten, The Judds sent six of their next seven singles to the top of the charts.
Naomi had Wynonna when she seventeen and the birth caused her to miss her high school graduation. The biological father immediately abandoned both of them. Naomi tied the knot with another man soon thereafter but that marriage fell apart in the earlier 1970s. Afterwards, she experienced an abusive relationship and lived on welfare. In 1976, Naomi moved her girls to a mountain home in rural Kentucky. The house lacked a phone and a television. Eventually, Naomi received her nursing degree. In 1979, Naomi and Wynonna relocated to Nashville with hopes of making it in the music business.
Nursing is responsible for the creation and destruction of The Judds. One of Naomi’s nursing patients was the daughter of a record producer. That relationship eventually led to the duo landing a recording contract. The Judds ended their legendary run in 1991 after Naomi was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. It’s believed she contracted the disease from an infected needle while working as a nurse.