Paul Johnson, the US house producer best known for his hit Get Get Down, has died from Covid-19 at age 50.
A statement on his Facebook page said: “Our greatness passed away this morning at 9am the house music legend we all know as PJ aka Paul Johnson.” In July, he had been hospitalised and placed in intensive care after contracting the virus.
Raised and based in Chicago, Johnson scored his biggest hit in 1999, when Get Get Down reached No 5 in the UK charts – a track that has endured as a crowdpleasing dancefloor favourite.
Starting out as a breakdancer and inspired by Chicago figures such as Ron Hardy, Johnson became a house music fan in the scene’s heyday in the late 1980s, and then a key figure in its second wave in the early to mid-1990s. Apart from his signature track, he released a series of respected albums, 12-inches and EPs, beginning with a debut release in 1992; he claimed to have made over 300 releases. In 1997, Daft Punk named him as an influence on their track Teachers, a roll-call of their heroes.
He was shot in 1987, seriously injuring his leg and forcing him to use a wheelchair. His injured leg was amputated in 2003, and a car accident meant his other leg was amputated in 2010.
In 2014, he described his instinctive artistry as a DJ. “I have a very particular DJ style like nobody else. I like to play forward. When I get to wherever I’m playing, I go straight to the store to buy something to play that night. I never think about me when I’m spinning – just the people who are dancing.”
He added: “The crappy life I’ve had health wise, that’s been nothing, man. That’s just been a shadow to what I’ve been doing, I don’t even see it, nobody sees it. It’s all about the music.”
Among those paying tribute to Johnson was the Chicago producer RP Boo, who said: “Today we have lost a great legend of our world house community. Thank you God for his work that you installed in him.”
The DJ Mike Servito said: “Paul Johnson taught us how to bounce to the beat. A groove like no other, honestly. This is so depressing. But the records, the music will remain timeless and uplifting. We will always have that Chicago groove.”