Syl Johnson, Chicago Soul And Blues Artist, Dies At 85

Johnson’s work was heavily sampled by Jay-Z, Tupac, Wu-Tang Clan and more.

Syl Johnson, a soul singer and blues artist whose work was heavily sampled by top hip hop artists, has died at the age of 85.

According to WMAQ, on Sunday (Feb. 6) Johnson’s daughter, Grammy-nominated singer Syleena Johnson, issued an official statement to confirm the loss of their loved one.

“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,” the statement read.

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Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Syl Johnson moved to the South Side of Chicago as a teenager and later started playing blues guitar.

Johnson was known for his 1960s hits like “Come On Sock It To Me,” and his 1967 track “Different Strokes,” which would become one of the most sampled songs in hip hop. Many elements of the song have been heard in music by Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy and more.

In 2019, Johnson was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

The news of the artists' death comes days after brother and fellow blues artist Jimmy Johnson, died at 93 on Monday (Jan. 31), Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The cause of death of Syl Johnson has yet to be released.

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