Syl Johnson, soul and blues artist from Chicago, dies at 85 | Entertainment

CHICAGO (AP) — Syl Johnson, a Chicago soul singer and blues artist whose work was sampled by top hip-hop artists, has died at age 85, his family announced Sunday.

“A fiery, fierce fighter, ever standing in the pursuit of justice when it comes to his music and sound, he will be truly missed by all who crossed his path. His catalog and his legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historic plan for all who experience it,” said a statement from her family, including Johnson’s daughter, Syleena Johnson, a Grammy-nominated singer.

Family members did not release further details of his death, including the cause. His death comes days after his brother, fellow blues artist Jimmy Johnson, died aged 93.

Syl Johnson was known for his 1960s hits, including “Come On Sock It To Me.” His 1967 song “Different Strokes” became one of the most sampled in hip hop music. Elements of the song have been found in the music of Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Public Enemy, among others.

“One of the most sampled artists of our time, his music served as the soundtrack to some of our most poignant moments in history,” his family said.

Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Johnson moved to Chicago’s South End as a teenager and began playing blues guitar. He was named a Blues Hall of Fame inductee in 2019.

Johnson left the music business for a time in the 1980s and founded Solomon’s Fishery, a fried fish restaurant that later became a largely Chicago-area chain.

Decades later, he began working with Chicago-based archival label Numero Group, which released a retrospective of his work. The 2010 box set, “Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology,” earned two Grammy nominations.

“Music lover and Chicago icon, Syl Johnson lived his life without shame,” his family said.

Details of the funeral services were not disclosed.

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