Izora Rhodes Armstead, one-half of disco/pop acts the Weather Girls and Two Tons O' Fun, died yesterday (Sept. 16) at San Leandro (Calif.) Hospital, near Oakland. The cause was heart failure. Her age

Izora Rhodes Armstead, one-half of disco/pop acts the Weather Girls and Two Tons O' Fun, died yesterday (Sept. 16) at San Leandro (Calif.) 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 went 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.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

Print