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It’s with a heavy heart that I report Syl Johnson has passed away. 

The legendary Chicago soul singer and father of Syleena Johnson was 85.

The family released the following statement: 

It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame Legend, Syl Johnson (born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS). 

Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend & Artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.

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.

At this time, we ask for your prayers for our family, his friends, and fans, and we ask that you continue to play his music and share the remarkable legacy he’s made in music.

Syl Johnson’s song, “Different Strokes,” has been sampled by multiple Hip Hop artists, including Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, Public Enemy, and Kanye West

The passing of Syl Johnson comes days after the death of his older brother, Blues Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, who died at the age of 93.

Syleena Johnson paid tribute to her Uncle Jimmy via social media writing: 

When I was in grade school, My dad wanted me to play an instrument so bad.

He wanted me to play the guitar and he put me in the band at 8 years old. I learned how to play instruments and how to read music but I didn’t stay consistent…I was in so many activities and there were so many distractions that I couldn’t stick with it.

But then my dad had me go get guitar lessons from my uncle Jimmy.

He lived down the street from us. He was literally my favorite person on my fathers side. He was always so kind and so funny. He was ALWAYS positive and joyful. He never EVER spoke a bad word about my father no matter how mad my dad made him.

The three of us were booked for the Cognac fest in 2013 in France. The JOHNSONS, me, my dad, and uncle Jimmy. My dad was sick and couldn’t come so me and Uncle Jimmy held it down. He had a show the first night and brought me on stage to sing Sweet Home Chicago.

I was so afraid but his energy let me know I was ok. I’m not a true blues singer, but my bloodline sang the blues like they invented it. That week with him was the best. He had us laughing and singing.

I watched him at 84 years old and his beautiful teeth and skin go from cognac house to house singing and playing and being praised. He is a star, and everyone loved him. I loved Uncle Jimmy and I wish I had tried to spend more time with him.

I wish I was closer to him, even though I have always felt connected to him through music. Music is me, my dad, and his language for certain. He went to heaven today and While I am sad inside I can only wish that I will live a full life like his to 93 years old. Filled with love and music.

Heaven just got an upgrade. If you knew Jimmy Johnson, blues hall of famer, greatest guitarist I’ve ever known, kindest spirit, blues hall of famer, then you were blessed….I love you Uncle Jimmy… I’m not sure if I told you this, I think I did when you bought me that guitar in 2013 and got on me and said I better learn it???? but I’m saying it again.

I love you, and I thank you for all of your music, your strength, and your bloodline. Heaven just got and upgrade????RIH♥️

See her original post below.

My sincerest condolences and prayers to the Johnson family during this difficult time.