Paul Johnson has passed away from Covid-19. His death was announced by his agent yesterday in a statement: “Our greatness passed away this morning at 9am, the house music legend we all know as PJ a.k.a Paul Johnson.”
Johnson, a monumental figure in Chicago house, was 50 years old but had been hospitalized by the virus since mid-July. At the time, the DJ-producer said in a video: “I have COVID everybody. I’ve had it for a week. I’m pretty fucking weak.” In his latest post, he wrote “Shit’s taken A TURN for the worse,” stating he will be moved and intubated.
Born in 1971, Johnson was wheelchair-bound after being injured in a shooting accident, and his injured leg was amputated in 2003. A car accident meant his other leg was amputated in 2010, but that didn’t stop him DJing around the world to legions of fans.
He actually started his career as a breakdancer but became a fan of house music in the 1980s after listening to influential figures like Ron Hardy. His melodic, sample-heavy style of Chicago house saw him become a major figure in the genre’s second wave running through the mid 1990s.
He was best known for his hit “Get Get Down,” which charted in 14 countries, but that’s really just the highlight of a monumental discography filled with timeless albums on Peacefrog Records, Relief Records, and Moody Recordings. Over a 30-year career, he also put out EPs for Dance Mania, Underground Construction, and Crydamoure, among others. He claimed to have made over 300 releases.
In 1997, Daft Punk named him as an influence on their track “Teachers.”
Paying tribute, Chicago producer RP Boo said: “Today we have lost a great legend of our world house community. Thank you God for his work that you installed in him.” Fellow DJ Mike Servito said Johnson “taught us how to bounce to the beat”.