Joshie Jo Armstead in NYC at a Melvin Van Peebles performance
|Birth name||Josephine Armstead|
|Also known as||Joshie Jo Armstead|
|Born||October 8, 1944|
Yazoo City, Mississippi, U.S.
|Years active||1961 - 1990s|
|Labels||Giant, Gospel Truth|
|Associated acts||Ashford & Simpson|
Josephine Armstead (born October 8, 1944), often known as "Joshie" Jo Armstead, is an American soul singer and songwriter. She co-wrote Ray Charles' hits "Let's Go Get Stoned" and "I Don't Need No Doctor", among other songs written with Ashford & Simpson. After a period in The Ikettes in the early 1960s, she also had some success as a solo singer, her biggest hit being "A Stone Good Lover" in 1968.
She was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and 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 1961, together with Eloise Hester and Delores Johnson, she formed The Ikettes as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. She had been recommended to Ike Turner by her sister Velma who was his ex-wife.
In 1962, she 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. However, Armstead recalled her time as an Ikette fondly, stating, "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." 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. Its follow-up, "I Don't Need No Doctor" was also a hit, and the trio of writers also had success with songs for Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown and Tina Britt.
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. She also wrote or co-wrote hits for other artists, including Ruby Andrews' "Casonova", [sic] Garland Green's "Jealous Kind of Fella", and "Drop By My Place" by Carl Carlton.
She returned to New York after her marriage broke down, and continued as a singer and writer of commercials. She was a backing singer on Bob Dylan's 1971 single "George Jackson", and performed in a Broadway play written by Melvin Van Peebles, Don't Play Us Cheap, in 1972. In the early 1970s, she signed for 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, she continued to write songs through her own publishing company, and also worked as a fashion designer. Joshie also performed vocals for four titles on the 1977 Burt Bacharach LP Futures. In the 1980s, after returning to Chicago, she had a spell managing a boxer, Alfonso Ratliff. She recorded for her own Prairie Rose Records in the 1990s.
|1968||"A Stone Good Lover"||129||28|
|"I've Been Turned On"||-||50|
|1974||"Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones (What Took Me So Long)"||-||91|
- Biography by Ed Hogan at Allmusic.com
- Biographical article and interview, From The Cotton Fields Of Mississippi, To The Cotton Club In New York City, at SoulMotion.co.uk
- "Interview Joshie Armstead". Other Sounds. January 24, 2012.
- "Casonova", Discogs.com
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 12.