Remember When the Judds Changed Country Music With Their Debut Album?
The Judds may have seemed like one of country music's unlikeliest success stories when they released their debut album on Oct. 15, 1984, but within the year, the mother-daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna Judd would be one of the hottest acts in the genre.
The Kentucky natives had already had a long journey together that took them through Los Angeles before seeing them settle in a rural community outside of Nashville, where Naomi Judd took a job as a nurse and her teenage daughter Wynonna finished up school. They caught the attention of producer Brent Maher and signed with RCA Nashville/Curb in 1983, and released an EP titled Wynonna & Naomi in January of 1984.
They had already logged their first No. 1 hit, "Mama He's Crazy," by the time they released their debut full-length album, Why Not Me. Released as the EP's second single in May, the song hit No. 1 on Aug. 8, 1984, and it was also included on Why Not Me when it was released in October.
Featuring tightly-crafted and arranged, traditional-minded songs that highlighted their unique Appalachian family harmony blend, Why Not Me went on to launch three additional No. 1 hits in the title song, "Girls' Night Out" and "Love Is Alive," and the Why Not Me album also reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Albums chart. "Mama He's Crazy" won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1985, a feat that "Why Not Me" went on to emulate in 1986.
The album also introduced country audiences to the flamboyant personalities and complicated personal relationship of the Judds, which would become the stuff of legend and launch a cottage industry of television movies, books and reality TV shows as their family drama played out in the public eye over decades.
Naomi Judd died by suicide on April 30, 2022, just one day before the Judds were set for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.