DJ Casper Dies: ‘Cha Cha Slide’ Hitmaker Was 58

DJ Casper (Credit: YouTube/Fox 8 News Cleveland)

DJ Casper, the musician best known for creating the dance craze “Cha Cha Slide,” has died from cancer. He was 58.

The hitmaker passed away Monday, his wife Kim told local news station ABC7 Chicago.

“Casper was a fun-loving, giving person,” she said. “He was a genuine, family oriented man. He loved Chicago with all his heart. He will be greatly missed.”

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Born Willie Perry Jr. in Chicago in 1965, Perry became known as “Casper” for frequently wearing all-white outfits.

DJ Casper originally released his signature song “Cha Cha Slide” under the title “Casper Slide Pt. 1” in 1998. He created the song for his nephew who was a personal trainer at a local gym.

The track became popular at fitness clubs, prompting Perry to release a new version in 2000 titled “Casper Slide Pt. 2.” The song started to get radio play and became a local hit in 2004, after Chicago’s M.O.B. Records put it on a compilation album featuring area artists.

The song’s accompanying line dance “Cha Cha Slide” became hugely popular in Chicago. Then Universal Records picked up the single “Cha Cha Slide” and it climbed the charts around the world.

In 2019, the song was featured on a Saturday Night Live sketch titled “Cha Cha Slide.” Casper also performed the single on an episode of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.

Over the years, Casper released three albums, but slowed down after he was diagnosed with kidney and liver cancer in 2016.

In an interview with ABC7 Chicago in May, he discussed his cancer battle.

“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 told the station he hoped anyone who was ill would play his song to make them feel better.

“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.'”