Singer/songwriter Jo Armstead's biggest hit was "Stone Cold Lover." She also co-wrote Ray Charles' number one R&B classic "Let's Get Stoned" with Ashford and Simpson, Ruby Andrews' Top Ten R&B smash "Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)," and Garland Green's gold single "Jealous Kind of Fella." Born Josephine Armstead on October 8, 1944, in Yazoo City, MS, she joined the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1961 singing background vocals as one of the Ikettes who had a 1962 number three R&B hit with "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" on Atco Records. Relocating to New York City, she began collaborating with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson who were staff writers for the publishing branch of Scepter/Wand Records.
Other Armstead/Ashford/Simpson songs were "Too Hot to Hold," "The Shoe Won't Fit," and "The Real Thing" by Betty Everett on VeeJay; the latter was a 1965 number 20 R&B hit by Tina Britt on Eastern.
In 1967, Armstead moved to Chicago from New York and formed Giant Productions with her new husband, Mel Collins. The label, which issued releases on the Giant, Globe, and Gamma imprints, had offices at 56th and Maryland, then 81st and Cottage Grove. The artist roster included Ruby Andrews, Garland Green, Fenton Robinson, Little Jimmy Scott, Shirley Wahls, Smokey Smothers, and Armstead herself, recording as Joshie Jo Armstead or Jo Armstead. Their first hit, Carl Carlton's "Drop by My Place," was recorded in Detroit with arranger Mike Terry. Hollandale, MS, native Ruby Andrews' "Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)," released on Ric Williams' Zodiac label, hit number nine R&B in the summer of 1967. Armstead wrote, produced, and recorded the Terry-arranged "Stone Cold Lover," which went to number 28 R&B in spring 1968. Giant's sole million-selling single was Garland Green's "Jealous Kind of Fella," which was leased to MCA's Uni label and peaked at number five R&B on Billboard's charts in summer 1969. By 1970, Giant was no longer active. Armstead returned to New York, but was back in Chicago by the late '80s, managing boxer Alonzo Ratliff.
Her other singles were "I've Been Turned On," "There's Not Too Many More," "I'm Gonna Show You" b/w "I've Been Turned On" or "Never Had It Like This," "This and That" b/w "No Better for Ya," and "Stumblin' Blocks, Steppin' Stones (What Took Me So Long)" as Joshie Jo Armstead and "Ride out the Storm," both on Stax subsidiary Gospel Truth. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi