Paul Johnson, one of the most important house producers of all time, has tragically died from Covid-19 aged just 50. The moving news was delivered in a statement on his Facebook page: “Our greatness passed away this morning at 9am the house music legend we all know as PJ aka Paul Johnson.” Johnson’s passing followed a tense struggle with the virus. In July, he was placed in intensive care owing to its effects.
A Chicago native, Johnson’s most memorable hit was 1999’s ‘Get Get Down’, which reached number five on the UK charts. Since it graced our ears some 22 years ago, it has been a staple of dancefloors worldwide.
Being from Chicago, the home of house music, Johnson started off as a mere fan of the burgeoning scene in the late ’80s. He then became a key component of its “second wave” in the mid-1990s. In addition to his signature track, he released a whopping 300 records in his lifetime. Such was his impact on dance music, that now-defunct house music pioneers Daft Punk cited him as an influence in 1997.
The brilliant thing about Johnson’s life was the way in which he overcame adversity. He was shot in the leg in 1987, which led to it being amputated in 2003, and then he lost his other leg in a car accident in 2010. In 2014, he defiantly proclaimed: “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.”
He also said of his music: “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.”
Droves have come out to pay their respects to Johnson. Iconic 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.”
This sentiment has been reflected by fans worldwide. Johnson will continue to be remembered through his pioneering music. As DJ Mike Servito said: “the music will remain timeless and uplifting.”
Listen to ‘Get Get Down’, below.