Caribbean singer Johnny Kemp was found floating in the waters off Montego Bay in Jamaica last Thursday, shocking fans of the Grammy-nominated singer. Kemp was responsible for creating one of R&B music’s lasting anthems in the late ’80’s and continued to play musical events across the nation long after his career heyday.
Kemp, born August 2, 1959, was a native of Nassau, Bahamas. Recent reports on his age are conflicting, some stating he was 54 and others saying he was 55. Kemp got his start singing in Bahamian nightclubs when he was 13, honing his skills before heading to the States. Kemp and his band, Kinky Fox, arrived in New York in 1979.
Kemp’s self-titled debut album, released in 1986, yielded a mild hit in the single “Just Another Lover.” It would take Kemp two years to find the magic formula of success on his second album, Secrets Of Flying which featured two top 5 R&B Billboard hits, “Dancin’ With Myself” and the New Jack Swing-influenced “Just Got Paid.”
Produced by Teddy Riley, “Just Got Paid” became a literal payday anthem while also defining the upbeat New Jack Swing sound. Reports say singer Keith Sweat was first considered for the “Just Got Paid” track but passed on it. Kemp added his own lyrics and melodies to create the massive hit. In 1989, he was nominated for a Grammy, going up against Bobby Brown and Luther Vandross in the same category.
Kemp was scheduled for a surprise performance with Riley on the 2015 Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage cruise over the weekend but never made it on board. Riley offered a moving tribute to Kemp Saturday night, which you can see HERE.
Kemp is survived by his wife, Deidre, and two sons.
(Photo: My Space)