Naomi Judd was a country legend whose death by suicide on April 30, 2022, rocked the music industry. The 76-year-old icon, who came from humble beginnings in Kentucky, rose to fame in the 80s as part of the mother/daughter duo The Judds alongside her first-born child Wynonna Judd. The incredible pair would go on to win five Grammy awards, including Best Country Song for the Naomi-penned hit “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
The duo eventually split in 1991 over concerns for Naomi’s Hepatitis C diagnosis, but there had already been tension brewing between the pair. For one, Wynonna was left in the dark about her birth father for the majority of her life, as she believed Naomi’s first husband Michael Ciminella was her dad. However, Naomi had gotten pregnant with Wynonna with her boyfriend Charles Jordan, who left her before the baby was born. Naomi then married Michael and the pair gave birth to Ashley Judd in 1968 before they split four years later. Naomi ended up raising her two daughters as a single parent before she met the love of her life.
Enter Larry Strickland. Naomi’s second husband, whom she married on May 6, 1989, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1946 to a preacher father. “We come from common backgrounds,” Naomi once said, per Country Fancast. “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.”
Larry is also a musician, as he began singing in the church at a young age and would go on to become a world-class bass player as part of the 1970s band The Stamps Quartet. “You know when I was about ten years old my dad took me to a gospel concert and I got to hear, at that time, the top groups in the gospel music world,” Larry revealed in an interview, according to Country Fancast. “It really sank deep inside of me early as a young child. I started very young as a teenager singing. Teaching myself. Working on my voice learning how to read music. Its been apart of me ever since”
Throughout their inspiring marriage, Larry has helped Naomi thrive in her post-The Judds career. He helped manage her on her Hallmark Channel TV show called Naomi’s New Morning which lasted for two seasons, promoted her memoir River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope and other self-help books, supported her acting roles in such movies as Lifetime’s The Killing Game and was always on hand when she made rare appearances back on the country music stage. Talk about true love!
When asked to reveal the secret to their marriage, Naomi hilariously told OK! in 2008, “A snore guard. My husband snores. We’ve been together 27 years, and for Valentine’s Day, he got himself a snore guard. Not very romantic, but I love it. And separate bathrooms.”