|Birth name||Jonathan Kemp|
August 2, 1959|
|Died||April 16, 2015
Montego Bay, Jamaica
|Genres||R&B, Pop, New Jack Swing|
|Instruments||Vocals, Keyboards, Bass Synthesizer|
|Associated acts||Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, Change, Luther Vandross, Chic|
Jonathan Kemp (August 2, 1959 – April 16, 2015) was a Bahamian singer, songwriter and record producer. Beginning his career as a songwriter in late–1979, Kemp is perhaps best known for his solo work including his 1988 R&B/New Jack Swing single Just Got Paid which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1989.
Early life and career
Kemp began singing in nightclubs in the Bahamas at 13. He moved to Harlem, New York in 1979 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) and for Change on their 1982 album Sharing Your Love (on which he co-wrote "Take You To Heaven").
Kemp solo landed a solo recording contract with Columbia Records and his eponymous debut album came out in 1986. It charted in the U.S. on Billboard′s Top Black Albums chart reaching No. 36 on 28 June of that year. 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 and hit the Hot Dance/Disco charts reaching No. 26 in Club Play and No. 35 in 12 Inch Singles Sales that same month.
Greater success came the following year with the release of his Secrets of Flying 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, 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. His only other Hot 100 entry was "Birthday Suit", a tune from the soundtrack to the movie, Sing which climbed to No. 36 in 1989.
Kemp appeared on the 2007 DVD release by Keith Sweat entitled Sweat Hotel Live. The DVD 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. Kemp was the featured performer (singing "Just Got Paid") at the NJS4E event in New York 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.
Personal and Death
Kemp was married and the father of two sons. Kemp died on April 16, 2015. His body was found floating in the water of Montego Bay, Jamaica, according to Jamaican police. He was 55 years old. Police believe he was walking on some rocks, lost his balance, fell, hit his head and drowned; he had been seen earlier that day in the area. While 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.
- List of Billboard number-one dance hits
- List of artists who reached number one on the U.S. dance chart
- "No foul play in Johnny Kemp's death". JamaicaObserver.com. April 22, 2015. Retrieved April 24, 2015.
- Whitburn, Joel (1991). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 316.
- The B.B. & Q. Band – All Night Long at Discogs.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- Change – Sharing Your Love at Discogs.com. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- "Top Black Albums". Billboard 99 (26): 24. 28 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Hot Black Singles". Billboard 99 (25): 28. 21 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Hot Dance/Disco: Club Play". Billboard 99 (25): 38. 21 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Hot Dance/Disco: Club Play". Billboard 99 (26): 32. 28 June 1986. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Huey, Steve. "Biography: Johnny Kemp". AMG. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Ltd. p. 298. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Johnny Kemp - "Just Got Paid" song review, allmusic.com; retrieved August 19, 2011.
- 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.
- Young, Danielle (April 17, 2015). "Sad News: Johnny Kemp Of ‘Just Got Paid’ Fame Has Died At 55". Chicago Defender. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
- "R&B Singer Johnny Kemp Dead At 55", NewsOne, April 17, 2015.
- Johnny Kemp at AllMusic
- Johnny Kemp discography at Discogs
- Interview from the NJS4E Event (YouTube)
- NJS4E Interview- Part II (YouTube)