DJ Casper, the Chicago artist whose early 2000s hit “Cha Cha Slide” caused a worldwide sensation, has died after years living with kidney and liver cancer, ABC7 reports, citing his wife. He was 58 years old.
Born Willie Perry, Jr., in Chicago, where he lived until his death, DJ Casper created “Cha Cha Slide” as an aerobic exercise for his nephew, recording the first version in 1998 by MCing the workout instructions over Jaydee’s house classic “Plastic Dreams.” The song caught on around Chicago, prompting DJ Casper to compose a new version, released in 2000, initially called “Casper Slide Part 2.” It spread through the United States and, in 2004, became a UK No. 1, helped along by a video in which amateur and professional dancers from various religions and backgrounds unite in the routine.
Perry was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, announcing two years later that he was in remission. He told ABC7 this May in his final interview, “Anybody that’s going through cancer, know that you have cancer and cancer does not have you. So, keep on doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide.’”