Denise Johnson, the Manchester-born singer who lent her inimitable vocals to Primal Scream’s seminal 1991 record Screamadelica, has died aged 56. A friend of Johnson confirmed news of her death Twitter. No cause of death has been shared.
The musician’s lead vocals featured heavily on Screamadelica cut ‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’. In addition to recorded contributions, Johnson toured with the band 1990-1995.
Johnson’s voice permeates through the DNA of some of the most beloved acts to come out of Manchester, including New Order, Johnny Marr, Ian Brown and The Charlatans. She also cut her teeth recording with acts like Pet Shop Boys, Bernard Butler and Michael Hutchence.
She was also a noted guest vocalist on releases by post-punk group A Certain Ratio – with whom she performed live until recently – Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr’s duo Electronic, the Pet Shop Boys, Ian Brown, Bernard Butler and Michael Hutchence.
Happy Mondays’ musician Rowetta paid tribute to her late friend on Twitter. “I have so many great memories of Denise from when we were young,” she wrote. “We just used to sing & laugh like naughty schoolgirls all the time.” Rowetta described the passing of Johnson as “a great loss to Manchester and music”.
Manchester electronic duo 808 State wrote that Johnson’s voice “sews so many memories together in many contexts – but most of all she gave the best hugs”.
“She was a beautiful person with a huge talent,” wrote New Order on Twitter. “Her voice graced many of our albums and live shows and that of our friends. We will miss her dearly.”
New Order are devastated to hear the sad news that Denise Johnson has passed away. She was a beautiful person with a huge talent. Her voice graced many of our albums and live shows and that of our friends. We will miss her dearly. pic.twitter.com/9elTLCiHG8
— New Order (@neworder) July 27, 2020
Denise Johnson was set to release her debut solo record on September 25th. The acoustic record, Where Does It Go, features a number of original compositions in addition to covers of songs by Manchester legends such as New Order, the Smiths and 10cc.