Johnny Kemp, the man behind the club hit classic played on many Friday nights, “Just Got Paid,” has died at 55. The Bahamas Weekly reported that Kemp passed away on Thursday, April 16, 2015.
Many call “Just Got Paid” their “payday classic song” or the song that “made Friday night special.”
Kemp started his U.S. career in Harlem with a group called Kinky Fox. He eventually developed a forte in writing songs for other artists. In addition, he performed backup vocals for groups such as the B. B. & Q. Band and Change. Columbia Records gave him a record deal in 1985 and, through them, he released his first album, Johnny Kemp, in 1986. The album was a minor success that produced hit singles like “Just Another Lover,” “Can’t Get Enough,” and “Cover Girl.”
Kemp’s second album, Secrets of Flying (1987), produced his biggest hit, “Just Got Paid,” which reached as high as no. 10 on the U.S. Billboard charts and was his only 1 million-selling record. Columbia initially offered the instrumental base for the song to Keith Sweat, who passed on it. Kemp listened to the track, wrote lyrics for it, and produced the hit track.
Kemp’s last single in the Hot 100 was “Birthday Suit,” a song featured in the Sing movie soundtrack in 1989. However, the single only reached no. 36 in the U.S. Following the release of his second album, Kemp’s visibility in the music industry waned. In the 1990s, he was a lead singer for Sugar Beats, a popular children’s band.
In memory of his legacy, watch the video below, it’ll take you down memory lane:
The Reading Rainbow series on PBS featured its theme song sung by Kemp for a few years. He appeared in Keith Sweat’s Sweat Hotel Live – a album featuring numerous R&B and New Jack Swing artists from the late 1980s – where he sang a rendition of “Just Got Paid.” He also performed “Just Got Paid” at the New Jack Swing 4ever (NJS4E) event on September 8, 2007, in New York City. It was a celebration of R&B’s New Jack Swing era hosted in the Ashford and Simpson-owned Sugar Bar nightclub.
Our sources told us that Kemp was scheduled to perform with Teddy Riley on the cruise that same year he died, however, he was not on the ship due to him not feeling well.
Samuel L. Jackson and MC Hammer were among others who shared condolences, calling him