August 4, 2021
The dance music community today mourned the loss of two of its pioneers. Chicago house legend Paul Johnson passed away this morning at age 50 from complications related to COVID-19. And First Lady of Detroit K-Hand, aka Kelli Hand, passed away yesterday at age 56, the cause of death was unknown at the time of publication.
Both artists were powerful voices in dance music history. Born and raised in Chicago Paul Johnson began his career in the early 90s. He’s released music on renowned labels like Dance Mania, Cajual, and Relief. His seminal 1999 hit “Get Get Down” topped the dance charts in the US, UK, Netherlands, France, Greece, Belgium, and Canada. Its bubbly refrain can still be heard on dance floors over two decades later.
He also co-founded the Chicago label Dust Traxx with Radek Hawryszckuk in 1997 and released music from Gene Hunt, Glenn Underground, and Roberto Armani.
In 1987 Johnson was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot. He DJed from a wheelchair for the rest of his career. He was also a double amputee. He lost his left leg in 2003, and then his right in 2010 after a devastating car accident.
Despite his disability, he continued to tour, DJ, and produce. He passed after a battle with COVID-19 left him hospitalized for several weeks.
K-Hand was born and raised in the birthplace of techno, Detroit. She regularly traveled to New York in the 80s to attend parties at Paradise Garage to soak up the emerging sounds of house music. She eventually bought her own turntables and production equipment. She founded Acacia Records and released her debut EP Think About It in 1990. Her amalgamation of jackin’ house and thumping techno took her around the world. She started touring Europe in the earliest days of the dance music movement and continued to release music until last year.
The dance music community exploded with messages of respect and mourning for the passing of these two legendary figures.
Tommie Sunshine said, “Paul was an inspiration to all whoever had the joy of hearing him DJ & his production influenced absolutely everyone including being the very first person named in Daft Punk’s Teachers. This was a man who live in a wheelchair due to a chooting accident which took on eleg & an auto accident in 2010 that took the other one. He was a fighter who radiated joy in his music, on the decks playing Gospel House like no other & always had a smile on his face.”