DJ Casper, the creator of the “Cha-Cha Slide,” an infectious song from the early 2000s that sparked an international line-dance craze that rivaled the Electric Slide and drew people to the dance floor at wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs and family cookouts, has died. He was 58.
His wife, Kim Bradshaw, confirmed his death in a statement to ABC7 Chicago. No cause was given, but Casper had cancer for several years. He said in an interview with the news station in May that in 2016 he was diagnosed with two forms of cancer, renal and neuroendocrine.
Ms. Bradshaw could not immediately be reached on Tuesday. In her statement to the news station, she said: “Casper was a fun-loving, giving person. He was a genuine, family-oriented man. He loved Chicago with all his heart. He will be greatly missed.”
Information on Casper’s survivors was not immediately available.
Casper was born Willie Perry Jr. in Chicago on May 31, 1965. He stepped into the spotlight early on, impersonating music legends like James Brown, Teddy Pendergrass and others.
He later took on his unique stage name because he usually wore white, according to his website. He also sometimes went by Mr. C, the Slide Man.
Casper’s journey to the center of the dance floor began in 1998, when he created “Casper Slide Pt. 1,” also known as the “Cha-Cha Slide,” as an aerobic exercise for his nephew, who was a personal trainer. After that song took off in popularity in fitness classes, he created a second song in 2000 called “Casper Slide Pt. 2,” which catapulted him to international stardom, with people regularly line dancing at family functions, school dances and night clubs.
The song spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, climbing as high as No. 83.
“My song is basically like a line dance, or it can be a dance for people who don’t need a partner,” Casper told Billboard in 2001.
He said in 2012 that the “Cha-Cha Slide” and similar line dances had health benefits. “All of the slides and the line dances, pretty much are for exercising,” Casper said. “They make you move, for cardiac, you know, for your heart. It keeps you motivated.”
After the song was picked up by Universal Records, instructional dance videos were distributed to clubs and the song was promoted at certain gatherings, like homecoming events at Black colleges, a record executive told Billboard.
The “Cha-Cha Slide” has remained a staple in popular culture, earning more than 130 million views on YouTube. It was even the subject of a “Saturday Night Live” skit in 2019. More recently, it continues to find newer, younger audiences, particularly on social media. On TikTok, a hashtag for the song has more than a billion views and at least one popular TikTok dancer, Vik White, has successfully mashed up the song and its dance with others.
“I have one of the biggest songs that played at all stadiums: hockey, basketball, football, baseball; they played it at the Olympics,” Casper told ABC7 in May. “It was something that everybody could do.”
Christine Hauser contributed reporting.