DJ Paul Johnson, a Chicago music legend who influenced many artists in his decades-long career, died Wednesday morning from complications related to COVID-19.
The 50-year-old had been hospitalized and battled COVID-19 for weeks.
Alex Almaguer, one of Johnson's friends, explained the two became friends more than 10 years ago and bonded through music.
“Paul’s music just had that extra umph,” he said.
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Johnson started DJ-ing in the mid-1980s and producing in the 90's. He traveled all over the world playing Chicago house music and released more than 440 EPs. His 1999 single, "Get Get Down," spent 18 weeks on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart and ultimately hit No. 1.
“He proved to a lot of people that he was still doing it,” Almaguer said. “He was on top of his game.”
But Almaguer said Johnson went through many personal struggles.
“Actually in '87 he got shot," the friend explained. "He had his leg amputated and then it was 2003, he had his other leg amputated from a car crash."
Johnson persevered and didn’t let the wheelchair stop him.
“He’s like you just keep doing what you got to do. Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do it,” Almaguer recounted Johnson saying. “I took those words to heart."
Almaguer said he lost a true friend, and the house music scene lost a legend.
“His presence will be missed,” he said.
Johnson had planned to play at the Cicero Fest next week. His funeral arrangements were pending as of late Thursday night.