Passages

Izora Rhodes Armstead

(-/--/42(?) Bay Area, CA - 9/16/04, San Leandro, CA)

 

The Weather Girls: Martha Wash, left, and Izora Rhodes Armstead.  

 

 

Weather Girls 2: Daughter Dynell Rhodes and mother, Izora Rhodes Armstead.  



IZORA RHODES ARMSTEAD OF WEATHER GIRLS DUO DIES OF HEART FAILURE



Izora Rhodes Armstead, who as half of the Weather Girls sang the 1983 hit "It's Raining Men" and the beach music hit "Well-A-Wiggy", died September 16, 2004, from heart failure at San Leandro Hospital. She was secretive about her age, but is believed to have been 62.

She met partner Martha Wash when they sang in a gospel group together, but the two soon became the background vocalists for San Francisco disco diva Sylvester and were called Two Tons O' Fun. They sang on four albums by Sylvester, including his No. 1 club hits, "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real."

The pair left Sylvester to record for Fantasy/Honey Records and made two albums. As the Weather Girls, Ms. Armstead and Wash came under the supervision of the brilliant disco songwriter and producer Paul Jabara, who cut "It's Raining Men" with them. The song was not only featured on the Weather Girls album "Success," but simultaneously on the Paul Jabara and Friends album that also featured the recording debut of 14-year-old Whitney Houston.

"It's Raining Men" reached No. 46 on the pop charts, but was a No. 1 dance club hit and went to No. 2 on the British charts in 1984. A follow-up single, "No One Can Love You More Than Me," was also a dance club hit. After three albums for Columbia Records, the Weather Girls split up.

Ms. Armstead moved to Germany 15 years ago and formed a new Weather Girls with her daughter Dynell Rhodes. The mother-daughter act toured internationally and recorded several albums for WEA Germany. (Her Weather Girls partner Wash went on to become the anonymous studio vocalist who sang dance hits for Seduction, Black Box and C&C Music Factory.)

She returned to the Bay Area last month for treatment of heart problems. Services were held Thursday, September 23, 2004, at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church in San Francisco. She is survived by seven children and several grandchildren.

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Izora Rhodes Armstead, one-half of disco/pop acts the Weather Girls and Two Tons O' Fun, died yesterday (Sept. 16) at San Leandro (CA) Hospital, near Oakland. The cause was heart failure. Her age is not known.

Armstead began her career as a back-up singer for disco artist Sylvester, along with her future music partner Martha Wash. They lent vocals to four Sylvester albums, including the 1978 Fantasy Records set "Step II," which spawned two No. 1 Billboard club hits: "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real." and The former was also a top-20 hit on the Hot 100, while the latter reached the top 40.

In 1979, Armstead and Wash left Sylvester to record as Two Tons O' Fun. Honey/Fantasy released two albums by the duo, "Two Tons O' Fun" (1980) and "Backatcha." The pair's debut included such now-classic dancefloor hits as "I Got the Feeling," "Just Us," "Do You Wanna Boogie, Hunh?" and "Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven."

In the early '80s, without a label to call home, Armstead and Wash regrouped as the Weather Girls and signed with Columbia Records. Working with producers/songwriters Paul Jabara and Bob Esty, the duo scored a global smash with "It's Raining Men," which spent two weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1982. A follow-up single, "No One Can Love You More Than Me," was an underground club hit. After three albums, the Weather Girls were dropped by Columbia, and Armstead and Wash, while remaining friends, went their separate musical ways.

Armstead moved to Frankfurt, Germany, 15 years ago. It was there that she formed a new version of the Weather Girls with her daughter Dynell Rhodes. In addition to non-stop touring, the mother/daughter act recorded a handful of albums for WEA Germany, including "Double Tons of Fun" in 1994.

Last month, Armstead returned to the Bay Area to undergo treatment for heart-related problems. She is survived by a sister, Laversa, seven children and several grandchildren.

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