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DJ Casper, Maker of the Cha Cha Slide, has Died

By: Jenny Zhou

On August 7, 2023, DJ Casper, creator of the Cha Cha Slide, died. He was 58 years old when he passed away in Chicago due to cancer.

DJ Casper, born Willie Perry Jr., recorded the Cha Cha Slide in the 1990s as an aerobic exercise for his nephew, who worked as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness (NPR, 2023).

The Cha Cha Slide became an instant hit. Every radio station wanted to play the song, and people also wanted Casper to perform it at their parties and clubs. Eventually, Universal Records picked up his song.

"I really didn't expect the 'Cha Cha Slide' to do what it did," Casper said in an interview with Chicago's PBS station WTTW in 2018. "Everything hit all at once, Universal Records contact[ed] me, they wanted me to go on a tour and it started getting real crazy." The Cha Cha Slide became a life-changing song for Casper, while entertaining many other people.

In the year 2000, he recorded a new version of the song, originally called “Casper Slide Part 2,” now known as the iconic “Cha Cha Slide.” It caught fire in the US, and also hit number 1 on the UK Singles chart.

The song was originally only a workout track, but has now become a global phenomenon. It is played at weddings, birthday parties, physical education classes in schools, and many more occasions.

Now the song is even a part of pop culture, and has made its way into shows like Orange is the New Black and Saturday Night Live.

Casper told ABC7 that he was diagnosed with kidney and liver cancer, and lost 60 pounds, but he never lost his upbeat attitude that helped him make his famous song.

"Anybody that's going through cancer, know that you have cancer and cancer does not have you," Casper told the station. "So, keep on doing the 'Cha Cha Slide.'” Casper managed to be an upbeat and happy person, even through all of the hardships in his life.

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