Jo Armstead

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Jo Armstead
Joshie Jo Armstead in NYC at a Melvin Van Peebles performance
Joshie Jo Armstead in NYC at a Melvin Van Peebles performance
Background information
Birth nameJosephine Armstead
Also known asJoshie Jo Armstead
Joshie Armstead
Jossie Armstead
Dina Johnson
Born (1944-10-08) October 8, 1944 (age 78)
Yazoo City, Mississippi, U.S.
GenresR&B, soul
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, actress
Years active1961 - 1990s
LabelsDe-Lex, Infinity, Giant, Gospel Truth, Preacher Rose

Josephine Armstead (born October 8, 1944),[1] also known as "Joshie" Jo Armstead, is an American soul singer and songwriter. Armstead began her career singing backing vocals for blues musician Bobby "Blue" Bland before becoming an Ikette in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the early 1960s. She also had some success as a solo singer, her biggest hit being "A Stone Good Lover" in 1968. As a songwriter, Armstead teamed up with Ashford & Simpson. The trio wrote hits for various artists, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Tina Britt, Ronnie Milsap, and Syl Johnson.[2] In the 1970s, Armstead appeared in the Broadway musicals Don't Play Us Cheap and Seesaw.

Life and career[edit]

Armstead was born to Wilton and Rosie Armstead in Yazoo City, Mississippi on October 8, 1944.[3] She started singing in the church in which her mother was a minister. After her grandfather introduced her to blues music, she also began singing in juke joints and at dances, and first sang in a club as part of Bobby "Blue" Bland's band. She joined a local band, Little Melvin & The Downbeats, as a teenager.

In 1960, Armstead along with Eloise Hester and Delores Johnson became The Ikettes as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.[1][4] She had been recommended to Ike Turner by her sister Velma Dishman who was his ex-wife.[5] As an Ikette, Armstead recorded the single "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" which peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the R&B chart.[6] In 1962, Armstead settled in New York City and recorded under the name Dina Johnson, by her own account a pseudonym to avoid being tracked down by Turner.[4] However, she recalled her time as an Ikette fondly: "It was the greatest but you had to be young to travel the Chitlin' Circuit as they called it. We weren’t flying and we didn’t stay in 5-star hotels. It was really rough. You really had to be young but it was fun and we joked and laughed a lot." She added, "I have the utmost respect for Ike Turner as an artist and what he created."[5]

After her tenure as an Ikette, Armstead recorded advertising jingles and sang back-up for such musicians as James Brown, Walter Jackson and B.B. King, before a chance meeting with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson. They began writing songs together, one of the first results being "Let's Go Get Stoned", which became an R&B chart no. 1 hit for Ray Charles in 1966.[7] Its follow-up "I Don't Need No Doctor" was also a hit. The trio of writers also had success with songs for Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown and Tina Britt.[1][4] Armstead also wrote or co-wrote hits for other artists, including "Cry Like a Baby" by Aretha Franklin, "Casonova" by Ruby Andrews, "Jealous Kind of Fella" by Garland Green, "Come On Sock It to Me" by Syl Johnson, and "Drop By My Place" by Carl Carlton.[2][1][4]

After Ashford and Simpson joined Motown, Armstead moved to Chicago in 1967 with her husband, record producer Mel Collins, and formed Giant Productions. The Giant label released her single "I Feel An Urge Coming On" which, although not successful at the time, later became a favorite with Northern soul audiences in the UK. Two of her follow-up records, "A Stone Good Lover" and "I've Been Turned On", both made the R&B chart in 1968.

Armstead returned to New York after her marriage deteriorated and continued as a singer and writer of commercials. She was a backing vocalist on Bob Dylan's 1971 single "George Jackson", and sang backing vocals on Roberta Flack's album Quiet Fire (1971). Armstead had a role in Melvin Van Peebles' musical film, Don't Play Us Cheap, and it's stage play adaptation on Broadway. In the early 1970s, she signed to the Gospel Truth label, an offshoot of Stax, and recorded several singles as Joshie Jo Armstead, of which the most successful was "Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones" in 1974. She also sang as a backing singer for Stax. After Stax Records collapsed, Armstead continued to write songs through her own publishing company, and also worked as a fashion designer. She provided vocals for four titles on the 1977 Burt Bacharach LP Futures. In the 1980s, after returning to Chicago, Armstead had a spell managing a boxer, Alfonso Ratliff. She recorded for her own Prairie Rose Records in the 1990s.[4]

Armstead was a 2006 STAR (Special Thanks And Recognition) honoree, awarded by the Metro New York Chapter of the Jackson State University Alumni Association.[3]

A version of Armstead's song "I Feel An Urge Coming On," performed by Nick Waterhouse, has been used in the television soundtracks of CW shows Riverdale and Black Lightning.[8]

Selected discography[edit]


Year Single
US Pop

1962 "Never Try To Love No More"
1963 "Sitting Here Thinking"
1968 "A Stone Good Lover" 129 28
"I've Been Turned On" 50
"I Feel An Urge Coming On"
1969 "Another Reason Why I Love You"
1970 "I'm Gonna Show You (How A Man Is Supposed To Be Treated)"
1973 "I Got The Vibes"
1974 "Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones (What Took Me So Long)" 91
1989 "In The Right Place "

Backing vocal credits[edit]

Songwriting credits[edit]


Year Production Role Notes
1972 Don't Play Us Cheap! Mrs. Washington Original Broadway Production
1973 Seesaw Sophie [Replacement] Original Broadway Production


  1. ^ a b c d "Jo Armstead | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links". AllMusic. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  2. ^ a b "Jo Armstead Top Songs as Writer". Music VF, US & UK hits charts.
  3. ^ a b "STAR Award Honoree Josephine "Joshie" Armstead. The Yazoo Herald, 28 Jun 2006". The Yazoo Herald. June 28, 2006. p. 9 – via
  4. ^ a b c d e " Jo Joshie Armstead". 2008-05-13. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  5. ^ a b "Interview Joshie Armstead". Other Sounds. January 24, 2012. Archived from the original on July 4, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 270.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 113.
  8. ^ Wikane, Christian John (30 April 2021). "An Interview with Original Ikette Joshie Jo Armstead". PopMatters.
  9. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 12.

External links[edit]