Paul Johnson, the influential Chicago house producer, has died from COVID-19 at the age of 50. A statement on his official Facebook page said: “Our greatness passed away this morning at 9am the house music legend we all know as PJ aka PAUL JOHNSON has passed away in this day of AUGUST 4th 2021. Rest In Heaven Paul.” The news was confirmed to Mixmag by Johnson’s agent.
Born and raised in Chicago, Johnson began DJing in 1985 and started producing his own tracks shortly after, working with labels such as Dancemania, Relief, Cajual, and Nite Life through the ’90s. He scored biggest hit in 1999 with ‘Get Get Down’, which appeared on his album The Groove I Have and reached the top of the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play Chart. He co-founded the label Dust Traxx in 1997, which has released music from the likes of Stacey Kidd, Glenn Underground, Gene Hunt, Roberto Armani, and Peven Everett. That same year, Daft Punk released the song ‘Teachers’, in which Johnson is the first artist to be named in a long list of the duo’s influences.
Johnson was paralysed from the waist down after a shooting accident in 1987 forced him to use a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. His injured leg was amputated in 2003, and in 2010 his other leg was amputated due to a car accident. “The crappy life I’ve had health wise, that’s been nothing, man,” Johnson said in an interview published in 2014. “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.”