JoJo Billingsley

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Deborah Jo "JoJo" Billingsley (May 28, 1952[1] – June 24, 2010) was an American singer, soloist, songwriter and recording artist. As a backing vocalist, Billingsley was best known for her work with the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. As one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Honkettes, she toured with the band all over the world, from Japan to England.

Lynyrd Skynyrd[edit]

Deborah Jo Billingsley was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Doc and Hazel Billingsley, but soon moved to Senatobia, Mississippi from Harmontown, Mississippi, where she was raised. In December 1975, she was hired, along with Cassie Gaines and Leslie Hawkins, to be a backup singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd. The group's leader Ronnie Van Zant dubbed them "The Honkettes".

An October 20, 1977 airplane crash killed several members of the band and road crew, but Billingsley was the only band member not on the flight. She stated that she had a dream two nights before the plane crashed, foreseeing the event. She attempted to warn the other band members not to get on the plane. According to Billingsley, this experience led her to become a born-again Christian.[2]

Recent appearances[edit]

In 2005, she performed several times as "The Honkettes" in an alternative version of Lynyrd Skynyrd called "The Saturday Night Special Band" that included former Skynyrd members Ed King, Artimus Pyle and Leslie Hawkins, which helped raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims.

In 2006, Hawkins and Billingsley performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd for the third time since the 1977 plane crash. The first was at Charlie Daniels' 1979 Volunteer Jam (film of which appears in the VH-1 Behind The Music profile of the band), the second at the opening of Freebird The Movie at Atlanta's Fox Theatre in 1995), and singing "Sweet Home Alabama" at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at which Lynyrd Skynyrd was honored. In 2006, she reunited with the then-current members of Lynyrd Skynyrd at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also performed with members of the group at occasional charity or memorial events [1].

Billingsley also made many television and radio appearances, appeared in several movies and DVDs, and travelled extensively. Her latest CD to be released was titled I Will Obey.

Family[edit]

Billingsley lived with her husband, Tim, and her daughter, Destiny, in Cullman, Alabama where they attended Spirit Life Church. She also has a son, Justin, who is in the US Navy.

Death[edit]

Billingsley died on June 24, 2010 after a battle with cancer in Cullman at the age of 58.[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Interview Bands Of Dixie & SweetHomeMusic.fr (2008)

Performing with the band video on YouTube