Chicago house music icon Paul Johnson has died. The producer and DJ had been hospitalized in recent weeks after contracting COVID-19. He was 50 years old.
Chicago publication 5 Magazine first reported the news, which has since been confirmed by Johnson’s agency and by his Facebook page. Billboard has reached out for additional comment.
Mike Servito, Kaytranada and Defected Records label head Simon Dunmore are among the many dance music industry figures to pay their respects online. “Paul Johnson taught us how to bounce to the beat,” Servito wrote on Twitter. “A groove like no other, honestly … But the records, the music will remain timeless and uplifting. We will always have that Chicago groove.”
Born in Chicago in 1971, Johnson began DJing in the mid-’80s while still a teenager. Expanding into production in 1990, he went on to release hundreds of records over the next three decades for labels such as Peacefrog, Moody Recordings, Dance Mania and Cajual. His 1999 single “Get Get Down,” from his album The Groove I Have, spent 18 weeks on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, where it ultimately hit No. 1. The song was an international hit as well, topping RPM’s Top 30 Dance chart in Canada and going top 10 in Greece, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK.
Johnson also started the Dust Traxx label with Radek Hawryszczuk in 1997, which has released music from producers including K-Alexi, Stacy Kidd, Glenn Underground and Robert Armani.
Johnson’s legacy as a house music great is perhaps most famously cemented within Daft Punk’s 1997 track “Teachers,” which over its three-minute duration lists the French electronic duo’s many influences. Johnson is the first artist named.