American Artist Willie Perry Jr commonly known as DJ Casper and the Chicago hype man behind ‘Cha Cha Slide’ phenomenon has died of cancer on Monday at the age of 58.
His wife Kim confirmed to WLS-TV in Chicago that DJ Casper, who was the creator of the 2000 novelty hit and its ubiquitous line dance, had been battling kidney and liver cancer for the past seven years and underwent treatment.
The family revealed his diagnosis in 2016 after launching a GoFundMe campaign to aid in his care.
The hype man was born and reared in Chicago and once toured with funk legend James Brown.
He began making music and deejaying when he was a teenager, describing himself as a natural entertainer who wanted people to have fun.
The South Sider, who also went by Mr. C the Slide Man, landed his stage name by wearing all white during his performances and earned his claim to fame with the megahit “Cha Cha Slide.”
The song, whose video was shot in downtown Chicago, catalysed an international dance craze that has remained in regular rotation at dance parties and wedding receptions since the early aughts.
“Cha Cha Slide” was originally titled “Casper Slide Pt. 1″ when it was released in 1998. Its corresponding choreography — directing dancers to stomp, “slide to the left, slide to the right. Criss cross,” and “cha cha real smooth” — was originally created for his nephew’s step aerobics class at Bally Total Fitness, Casper said, and the track was sold out of a trunk. Its local popularity prompted him to release “Casper Slide Pt. 2,” which was picked up by Chicago radio station WGCI-FM in 2000 and became a local hit, with listeners calling in to request the song.
M.O.B. Records picked up the song in 2004, leading DJ Casper to a deal with Universal Records.
Dressed as a prison orderly working a turntable, Casper also made a notable appearance in Season 6 of Netflix’s dramedy “Orange Is the New Black” when Crazy Eyes (Uzo Aduba) hallucinates about her fellow inmates and prison guards doing the line dance.
The song has also been included in the soundtracks for the films “Turning Red,” “Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania” and “Red Road.”