Paul Johnson, a monumental figure in the Chicago house scene, died on August 4, a message on his Facebook page confirmed. He was 50 years old and had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in mid-July, according to posts on his Instagram, although an official cause of death has not been released. Johnson began DJ-ing at parties in the mid-1980s and started producing his own music in the early ’90s, with his first release coming out in 1992. By 1997, Johnson had founded the record label Dust Traxx. That same year, his influence on house was also immortalized when Daft Punk listed him as the first name on their Homework track “Teachers,” which paid tribute to the group’s inspirations. But Johnson’s biggest success came years later, in 1999: the hypnotic hit “Get Get Down,” which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart and was successful in Europe as well.
Johnson was also prominent as an electronic music figure with disabilities, after an accidental shooting at a 1987 party paralyzed him; in 2003, he had one of his legs amputated due to the condition, while the other was amputated in 2010 after a car accident. Still, Johnson was an active figure in house music through 2021, most recently posting a clip of him performing to his Instagram on July 11. Chicago footwork originator RP Boo remembered Johnson as a “great legend of our world house community” on Twitter. “Thank you God for his work that you installed in him,” he wrote.