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Syl Johnson, one of soul’s greatest voices, dies at 85

Syl Johnson, whose song was sampled by Jay-Z and Kanye West, died on Sunday, February 6th.

Syl Johnson, one of the greatest voices in American soul and R&B, died at the age of 85, as announced by the singer’s family this Sunday, February 6th – the cause of death was not disclosed, according to information from Splash UOL. The artist was responsible for the 1967 track “Different Strokes,” which became one of the most sampled songs in hip-hop history, according to Rolling Stone USA.

“It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame legend Sylvester Thompson, born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, friend, and artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.”

A brave and fierce fighter, always advocating the quest for justice when it comes to his music and sound, he will be sorely missed by everyone who crossed his path. His catalog and legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historic project for all who experience it.

The singer’s death came days after the passing of his brother, Blues Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson, who died at age 93, according to CBS Chicago. Syl began his career in the 1960s and had greater success as a vocalist. with a cover of “Take Me to the River,” released in 1975.

Recognition and legacy as one of soul’s greatest voices, however, came in 1967 with “Different Strokes.” The song has been sampled by many artists over the years, including Kanye West and Jay-Z on Watch the Throne (2011). The rappers were sued for alleged unauthorized use of the snippets and failure to credit the original artist. At the end of the action, Syl regained the rights and returned to profit from the song.

Source: Rolling Stone

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