Paul Johnson, the influential Chicago house producer, has died. A post on Johnson’s Facebook page revealed the news that he died this morning, which was also confirmed to Mixmag by Johnson’s agent. In July, Johnson shared videos on his Instagram page from the hospital, revealing that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He was 50 years old.
Johnson started DJing in the 1980s and threw parties in his mother’s basement. One day, a friend’s gun accidentally discharged in the basement, resulting in a shooting accident that led to Johnson’s use of a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He had one leg amputated in 2003, and the other leg was amputated due to a car accident in 2010.
“This part of my life takes over 80 percent of anything,” Johnson said, referring to his health while lying in a hospital bed, in an interview published in 2014. “I’m always smiling when I’m on the street, I’m always doing anything that anybody wants,” he said. “But when I go home, I’m hurtin’.”
Through the ’90s, Johnson produced music for Chicago house labels including Moody, Dancemania, Relief, Nite Life, Defected, and more. He co-founded the label Dust Traxx in 1997. His 1999 song “Get Get Down” was among his biggest hits internationally. He had records with Robert Armani as Traxxmen and with Gant Garrard as Brother 2 Brother. He remained active as a touring DJ and recording artist up until 2021. On the Daft Punk song “Teachers,” Johnson’s is the first name uttered across a long list of the duo’s influences.