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DJ Casper, the man behind the hit song “Cha Cha Slide” — a mainstay at weddings, proms and bar room dance floors throughout the early 2000s — has died at 58. 

Casper’s wife, Kim, told ABC7 News on Monday evening that the singer has battled kidney and liver cancer since 2016, and succumbed to the disease on the morning of Aug. 7.

The star from Chicago, born Willie Perry Jr, created the “Cha Cha Slide” — originally dubbed “Casper Slide Pt.1” — in 1998 for his nephew, a personal trainer who intended to use the line dance song in his fitness class. 

The tune quickly spread throughout Chicago and, in 2000, he released a new version of the song, called “Casper Slide Pt.2,” under his stage name Mr. C the Slide Man. The song gained international success, even topping the UK Singles Chart in 2004.

DJ Casper sat down with ABC7 for his final television interview this May. He said he never expected the “Cha Cha Slide” to become such a hit.

DJ Casper (Willie Perry, Jr.) poses for photos after rehearsals for his performance on “The Jenny Jones Show” in Chicago, Illinois, in 2000. Casper died at 58 after a battle with kidney and liver cancer.
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DJ Casper during 2004 Disney Channel Kids Awards – Press Room at Royal Albert Hall in London. His song topped the UK singles chart in 2004.
FilmMagic

“When I first did it, I did it as an aerobic exercise for my nephew at Bally’s,” Casper said. “From there, it just took off. Elroy Smith from WGCI grabbed ahold of it,” he continued. 

His song isn’t only a favorite at weddings, it’s played at events all over the world. “I have one of the biggest songs that played at all stadiums: hockey, basketball, football, baseball; they played it at the Olympics,” Casper said. 

“It was something that everybody could do.”

He also opened up about his struggles with cancer. 

“They diagnosed me in 2016 with two kinds of cancer, which is renal and Neuroendocrine, which is kidney and liver,” Casper said. 

“They 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 said he was having trouble eating and lost a lot of weight.

“I used to weigh 236 pounds, and I think I’m about 60 pounds less,” Casper said. “If you know me, you know I’m not going to stop. I’m going to continue to go. I’m going to continue to go until I can’t go.”

Casper never expected his “Cha Cha Slide” to become such a global hit.
Getty Images

Cancer wasn’t Casper’s first health struggle. The singer had a brain aneurysm at 22 and had eye surgery for detached retinas, the Guardian reported. In 2019, Casper said his cancer was in remission but it later came back.

In May, Casper gave others struggling with cancer a word of encouragement.

“Anybody that’s going through cancer, know that you have cancer and cancer does not have you,” Casper said. “So, keep on doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide.’”




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