singer Denise Johnson (Primal Scream, New Order, A Certain Ratio & more), has died
Denise Johnson, who had lent her powerhouse vocals to records by Primal Scream, New Order, Pet Shop Boys and more, has died at age 56. A Certain Ratio, with whom Johnson had performed for 30 years, confirmed the news, writing, "She had been ill in the week prior to her death but told friends she was much better' on Friday. She was found on Monday morning and the cause of death is not yet known."
Born in Manchester, England on July 31, 1963, Johnson was a mainstay of acid house scene of the late-'80s and early-'90s where she soon became one of the go-to vocalists to add oomph to recordings. She sings on Primal Scream's "Don't Fight it Feel It," Electronic's "Get the Message," Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown's "Lions," New Order's "Nothing But a Fool," many records by A Certain Ratio (including their upcoming album), and lots more.
Tributes have been pouring in. New Order wrote "[We] are devastated to hear the sad news that Denise Johnson has passed away. She was a beautiful person with a huge talent. Her voice graced many of our albums and live shows and that of our friends. We will miss her dearly."
"Such sad news about our dear friend Denise Johnson," wrote Johnny Marr who was one half of Electronic (among other things). "Playing alongside her was something else. It was a privilege to work with her."
Rowetta, who sang with Johnson many times over the years (and is a regular vocalist with Happy Mondays), wrote "Sad sad news today Broken heart. I have so many great memories of Denise from when we were young. We just used to sing & laugh like naughty schoolgirls all the time. A great loss to Manchester and music. My condolences to her family & loved ones."
Read more tributes from Ian Brown, 808 State, former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason, onetime Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, Verve guitarist Nick McCabe, Erol Alkan, Doves, Sleaford Mods, The Waterboys' Mike Scott, and more -- as well as a longer tribute from A Certain Ratio -- below.
Denise was getting ready to release solo album, Where Does It Go, in September which features acoustic versions of classic Manchester songs, including ones by New Order, The Smiths, and 10cc. You can listen to her take on New Order's "True Faith" from it below.
Rest in peace Denise. Your music lives on. Listen to some of it below.
Our beautiful and dear Denise has died suddenly at her home in Manchester.
She had been ill in the week prior to her death but told friends she was "much better" on Friday. She was found on Monday morning and the cause of death is not yet known.
Although best known, and famous around the globe for her work with Primal Scream on their albums Screamadelica and Give Out But Don't Give Up, she first came to ACR’s attention when we heard her beautiful voice on ‘Just a Little More’ by Fifth of Heaven in 1988.
Shortly after, she worked with Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson on an early Acid House track called ‘Acid to Ecstasy’ by ED209, released on Dave Rofe’s DFM label.
Denise also worked on Ashley & Jackson's The Sermon and Solid Gold which Martin produced, before joining ACR in the studio to appear on the album ACR:MCR where her vocal skills come to the fore on ‘Be What You Wanna Be’.
The rest is history and historic for ACR, Denise then appeared on ACR:MCR (1990), Up in Downsville (1992), Change The Station (1997), Mind Made Up (2008), She had also been in the studio with us recently and her beautiful voice is on our forthcoming album ACR Loco.
She has been an integral part of ACR's live line-up since 1990 and has appeared over 200 times with the band in those 30 years, adding her uniqueness to the ACR catalogue pre and post 1990.
She provided guest vocals for New Order, Electronic. Gay Dad and Bernard Butler, to name but a few. She was also a staunch Manchester City supporter, loved them with all the passion you could hear in her singing voice.
More recently, she'd been performing acoustic sets with guitarist Thomas Twemlow, featuring covers of great Mancunian songs by artists such as Cherry Ghost, 10CC and New Order. They opened their Bluedot 2019 set with The Carpenters 'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' - an appropriate choice for a gig in the shadows of Jodrell Bank's Lovell Telescope. Her debut album, titled Where Does It Go, is due out in September.
She’s irreplaceable as a person and an artist, ACR are devastated at this loss, we’ll miss her infectious sense of humour and the soaring beauty and passion she brought to our music and our lives.
ACR - Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson