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Johnny Kemp (August 2, 1959 – April 16, 2015) was a Bahamian singer, songwriter, and record producer. He began his career as a songwriter in late 1979 and is perhaps best known for his solo work, including his single "Just Got Paid" (1988), which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1989.

Johnny Kemp
Johnny kemp.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJohnny Kemp
Born(1959-08-02)August 2, 1959
Nassau, Bahamas
DiedApril 16, 2015(2015-04-16) (aged 55)[1]
Montego Bay, Jamaica
GenresR&B, Rock, new jack swing
Occupation(s)Singer–songwriter, Producer
InstrumentsVocals, Keyboard instrument keyboards, bass synthesizer
Years active1979–2015
Associated actsKeith Sweat, Teddy Riley, Change, Luther Vandross, Chic, Kashif



Early life and careerEdit

Kemp began singing in nightclubs in the Bahamas at age 13.[2] He moved to Harlem, New York in 1979[2] with the band Kinky Fox. In the early 1980s, Kemp became a successful session musician and songwriter, singing backup for the B. B. & Q. Band on their 1982 album All Night Long (on which he co-wrote several tracks)[3] and for Change on their 1982 album Sharing Your Love (on which he co-wrote "Take You To Heaven").[4] He also appeared on the obscure Network LP I Need You in 1984, where he had lead vocals on the song "Cover Girl", later re-recorded for his self-titled debut solo album.[5]

Solo careerEdit

Kemp landed a solo recording contract with Columbia Records and released his eponymous debut album in 1986. It charted in the U.S. on Billboard 's Top Black Albums chart, reaching No. 36 on 28 June of that year.[6] He scored a minor hit single from the album with "Just Another Lover" (co-written by Kashif), which peaked at No. 14 Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart on 21 June 1986[7] and hit the Hot Dance/Disco charts, reaching No. 26 in Club Play[8] and No. 35 in 12 Inch Singles Sales[9] that same month.

Greater success came the following year with the release of his Secrets of Flying (1987) album, which contained a pair of Top 5 hits on Billboard′s Hot Black Singles chart, "Dancin' with Myself" and "Just Got Paid", the latter hitting No. 1. "Just Got Paid" hit No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1988,[2][10] and sold over a million singles in the United States. It went to top the Hot Dance Music/Club Play and provided his only UK Singles Chart entry, peaking at No. 68 in August 1988.[11] His only other Hot 100 entry was "Birthday Suit", a tune from the soundtrack to the movie, Sing (1989), which climbed to No. 36 in 1989.[2]

Later careerEdit

Kemp appeared on Keith Sweat's DVD release, Sweat Hotel Live (2007), which featured live performances by Sweat in a sort of reunion with other R&B/new jack swing era pioneers of the late 1980s, including Teddy Riley. Kemp appeared on the final track, an "all-star finale" rendition of "Just Got Paid", originally recorded at a February 2006 concert in Atlanta, Georgia. Incidentally, Sweat had initially passed on the instrumental track that would eventually become "Just Got Paid", when it was first offered to him in the mid-1980s. Kemp listened to it, added his own lyrics to the melody, and "Just Got Paid" was born.[12] Kemp also performed a version of the Reading Rainbow theme song (and other songs for that series) that was broadcast on PBS for a few years between the Tina Fabrique and Chaka Khan versions. Kemp was the featured performer (singing "Just Got Paid") at the NJS4E[13] event in New York City, on September 8, 2007. As the name implied, the show celebrated and commemorated 20 years of new jack swing and took place at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar.[citation needed]


Kemp was found dead on April 16, 2015 off the coast of Montego Bay, according to Jamaican police.[14] He was 55 years old. Police believe he was walking on some rocks, lost his balance, fell, hit his head, and then drowned; he had been seen earlier that day in the area.[1] He was scheduled to be on the Tom Joyner Foundation-hosted annual Fantastic Voyage cruise as a performer when his body was found; reports state he did not board the ship.[15][16]

He is survived by his wife, Deidre Fisher-Kemp, and their two sons.[17][18]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "No foul play in Johnny Kemp's death". April 22, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (1991). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 316.
  3. ^ "The B.B. & Q. Band – All Night Long". Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  4. ^ "Change – Sharing Your Love". Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Network (2) - I Need You". Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Top Black Albums". Billboard. 99 (26): 24. 28 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
  7. ^ "Hot Black Singles". Billboard. 99 (25): 28. 21 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^ "Hot Dance/Disco: Club Play". Billboard. 99 (25): 38. 21 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
  9. ^ "Hot Dance/Disco: Club Play". Billboard. 99 (26): 32. 28 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ Huey, Steve. "Biography: Johnny Kemp". AMG. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Ltd. p. 298. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ "Johnny Kemp - "Just Got Paid" song review". Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  13. ^ "NJS4E". September 8, 2007.
  14. ^ Slattery, Denis (April 17, 2015). "R&B singer Johnny Kemp, best known for the 1989 hit song 'Just Got Paid' found dead near beach in Jamaica". Daily News. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  15. ^ Young, Danielle (April 17, 2015). "Sad News: Johnny Kemp Of 'Just Got Paid' Fame Has Died At 55". Chicago Defender. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  16. ^ "R&B Singer Johnny Kemp Dead At 55". NewsOne. April 17, 2016.
  17. ^ Mail Online Reporter (17 April 2015). "Singer Johnny Kemp found dead floating in Montego Bay in Jamaica at age 55". Daily Mail.
  18. ^ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (April 21, 2015). "Johnny Kemp, Bahamian Singer, Dies at 55". The New York Times.

External linksEdit