The composer who created the “Cha Cha Slide,” the popular dance song from the beginning of the millennium performed at events and in gyms all over the world, has passed away.
DJ Casper passed away on Monday after a protracted fight with cancer, his wife told Chicago’s ABC7. He was 58.
In the late 1990s, Willie Perry Jr., a native of Chicago, first recorded a version of the “Cha Cha Slide” as an aerobic exercise for his nephew, a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness.
According to WBEZ, Casper claimed that the song immediately gained popularity and that he began receiving requests to play it at local gatherings. The song was first played on Chicago’s WGCI-FM radio station in 2000 before being acquired by Universal Records.
“I really didn’t expect the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ to do what it did,” Casper said in an interview with Chicago’s PBS station WTTW in 2018. “Everything hit all at once, Universal Records contact me, they wanted me to go on a tour and it started getting real crazy.”
Pitchfork claims that Casper created a new rendition of the song that year, originally titled “Casper Slide Part 2,” which later became known as the “Cha Cha Slide,” which became popular in the United States and peaked at No. 1 in the UK charts in 2004.
The “Cha Cha Slide” has endured to this day as a standard at weddings, birthday parties, school physical education programs, and more. It went from being a simple workout track to a worldwide craze.
In the song, Casper yells out simple moves that encourage dancers to crisscross, Charlie Brown, slide to the left and right, and, of course, cha-cha very smooth.
The “Cha Cha Slide” has established itself as a staple of mainstream culture, making appearances in programs like Saturday Night Live and Orange is the New Black.
Casper revealed to ABC7 that despite losing nearly 60 pounds after receiving a diagnosis of kidney and liver tumors in 2016, he never lost the positive outlook that characterized his best-known song.
“Anybody that’s going through cancer, know that you have cancer and cancer does not have you,” Casper told the station. “So, keep on doing the ‘Cha Cha Slide.’ “