CHICAGO (AP) — Willie Perry Jr., a Chicago disc jockey known as “DJ Casper” and creator of the iconic “Cha Cha Slide” dance, has died. He was 58.
Perry was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and his wife confirmed his death Monday in a statement to WLS-TV.
“Casper was a fun-loving, giving person,” his wife, Kim, said in the statement. “He was a genuine, family oriented man. He loved Chicago with all his heart. He will be greatly missed.”
His “Cha Cha Slide” continues to be a favorite at weddings, clubs and many other events about two decades after it became popular. Participants typically dance in lines and rows, following commands to a funky beat on when and where to step, stomp, hop and slide.
Perry told WLS-TV in a May interview that the “Cha Cha Slide” initially was an aerobic exercise for his nephew who worked at a fitness club. It would go on to become popular in many countries.
“From there, it just took off,” he said. “I have one of the biggest songs that’s played at all stadiums: hockey, basketball, football, baseball. They played it at the Olympics. It was something that everybody could do.”
Perry said he was diagnosed in 2016 with renal and neuroendocrine cancer.
Doctors “went in to try to do surgery, and they found out the kidney was connected to the main artery, so they decided not to do it and just treat it,” he told the television station.
Perry said the illness caused him to lose about 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms).
“If you know me, you know I’m not going to stop,” he said. “I’m going to continue to go. I’m going to continue to go until I can’t go.”
“Anybody that’s going through cancer, know that you have cancer and cancer does not have you,” he added. “So, keep on doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide.’”
The Associated Press was unable to reach Perry’s family for comment Tuesday.