Photo via A Certain Ratio
Denise Johnson, the Manchester-born singer whose soulful voice lifted the music of Primal Scream — most memorably on Screamadelica — A Certain Ratio, New Order and more has died at the age of 56, according to U.K. press reports and musicians she’d worked with.
“It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beautiful dear friend Denise has passed away,” the band A Certain Ratio posted on Facebook on Tuesday. No cause of dearth has been announced.
Johnson — who was set to release her debut solo album in September — appears on nearly half of 1991’s Screamadelica, most notably taking lead vocals on “Don’t Fight It, Feel It,” but also singing on “Come Together,” “Movin’ On Up,” “Damaged” and “Loaded.”
She also had performed in A Certain Ratio’s live lineup since the early ’90s, and appeared on the veteran Manchester post-punk act’s recordings — including on the band’s first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco, which also is due out in September.
Throughout the ’90s, Johnson lent her vocals to music by Bernard Sumner’s and Johnny Marr’s project Electronic, The Charlatans, Suede’s Bernard Butler and Ian Brown of The Stone Roses, among others. More recently, she sang on New Order’s 2015 album Music Complete.
“Shocked and devastated to hear of the passing of Denise Johnson. An absolutely beautiful lady,” New Order’s Stephen Morris wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Johnson was set to release her debut solo album, Where Does It Go, an acoustic collection of songs by Manchester bands, on Sept. 25. The album features her performances of New Order’s “True Faith,” The Smiths’ “Well I Wonder,” 10cc’s “I”m Not in Love” and more.
Below, some of Johnson’s performances — and tributes from fellow musicians.
We were sad to hear about the passing of Denise Johnson. Our condolences to her family and friends. Denise’s vital contributions to our Screamadelica & Give Out But Don’t Give Up albums and tours are a testament to her talent. Precious Memories. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/gTlFiqn0kS
— Primal Scream (@ScreamOfficial) July 28, 2020
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
Shocked and devastated to hear of the passing of Denise Johnson. An absolutely beautiful lady. Rest In Peace Denise x
— stephen morris (@stephenpdmorris) July 27, 2020
RIP LOVELY DENISE JOHNSON X
— Ian Brown (@ianbrown) July 27, 2020
I cant believe the news that Denise Johnson has passed -Her voice sews so many memories together in many contexts – but most of all she gave the best hugs -but you can hear that cant you ? xxxx pic.twitter.com/jHptOaLF6p
— 808 State (@state808) July 27, 2020
Such sad news about our dear friend Denise Johnson. Playing alongside her was something else. It was a privilege to work with her. pic.twitter.com/QnY0Rsqx2Z
— Johnny Marr (@Johnny_Marr) July 27, 2020
Very sad news to hear of the passing of Denise Johnson. Our love to family and friends. https://t.co/wJp6RnZiiq
— Echo & the Bunnymen (@Bunnymen) July 28, 2020
I am saddened to hear of Denise Johnson’s passing. I invited her to sing on my album because I heard her voice when I wrote the songs. I didn’t ask for a backing singer; I asked for Denise Johnson. She was beautiful and alive and I am grateful my music was touched by her beauty.
— Bernard Butler (@Bernard_Butler) July 27, 2020
Denise Johnson, the soul of Manchester.
— Inspiral Carpets (@inspiralsband) July 27, 2020
So sad to find out today that Denise Johnson has passed . Such a nice person . RIP xx
— Jah Wobble (@realjahwobble) July 27, 2020
Such sad, sad news. I immediately think of what she brought to “Screamadelica,” but her vocal on Electronic’s “Get the Message” was what I wanted to listen to first after learning of her passing. She took that great song to another level, much like she did with so many others’ songs. RIP, Denise. You will be missed.
those are some impressive tribute contributors.