Backup performer quit the band for Christian music
Former Lynyrd Skynyrd backup singer Deborah Jo White, who performed under her maiden name “Jo Jo Billingsley,” died June 24 in Cullman, Ala., home of cancer. She was 58.White toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd for 3 1/2 years before exiting the Florida-based group in August 1977. She was invited to rejoin the group two months later when she warned the band about having a dream about its plane crashing. It did on Oct. 20, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and others. She later left rock music, becoming a minister and Christian singer in Cullman. The band’s current lead singer, Johnny Van Zant, said it was tough to hear about another member of the Skynyrd family dying. She remained friends with members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and sang with original members when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Because of her Christian ministry, drummer Artimus Pyle began calling her Rev. Jo Jo.