Syl Johnson, much-sampled soul and blues legend, dies at 85
Chicago soul and blues legend Syl Johnson has died at age 85. CBS Chicago posted a statement from his family, which reads:
It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame Legend, Syl Johnson (born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS). Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend & Artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.
A fiery, fierce, fighter, always standing for the pursuit of justice as it related to his music and sound, he will truly be missed by all who crossed his path. His catalog and legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historical blueprint to all who experience it.
At this time, we ask for your prayers for our family, his friends, and fans, and we ask that you continue to play his music and share the remarkable legacy he’s made in music.
CBS Chicago also points out that this comes just days after his brother, Blues Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, died at age 93.
Syl Johnson's career included such iconic songs as "Is It Because I'm Black" and "Different Strokes," the latter of which became one of the most sampled-songs in hip hop history. Elements of it were used in Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" and "Fear of a Black Planet," Kanye West and Jay-Z's "The Joy," Wu-Tang Clan's "Shame On A N****," Boogie Down Productions' "Criminal Minded," and songs by N.W.A., 2Pac, Eric B. & Rakim, EPMD, De La Soul, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, J Dilla, Beastie Boys, Geto Boys, Run-DMC, The D.O.C., and hundreds of others.
Rest in peace, Syl.
The Syl Johnson documentary Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows is also available to rent via Vimeo. Trailer below.
More videos and pictures of Syl at Brooklyn's Bell House in 2011 (by Jacob Blickenstaff) also below...