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DJ Casper, creator of the iconic and ubiquitous 'Cha Cha Slide,' dies at 58

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People who go to weddings or birthday parties or just about anything are bound to hear this booming voice calling them to the dance floor.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHA CHA SLIDE")

DJ CASPER: This is something new - the Casper Slide Part 2 featuring the Platinum Band. And this time we're going to get funky.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

And the man behind that booming voice, Willie Perry Jr., aka DJ Casper, died earlier this week from cancer. He was 58.

INSKEEP: Perry became a household name after the release of the "Cha Cha Slide." He was a Chicago native who created the song for his nephew's aerobics class in the late '90s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHA CHA SLIDE")

DJ CASPER: To the left. Take it back now, y'all. One hop this time. Right foot, let's stomp. Left foot, let's stomp.

MCCAMMON: The song left the gym and made its way to the club and, yeah, eventually to so many weddings. Willie Perry Jr. spoke with WBEZ about the early days of the song's popularity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DJ CASPER: You know, people would say, hey, let's do that dance you have. And I was like, what dance? And they was like, the Cha Cha Slide.

MCCAMMON: Universal Records picked up the track. He then released a new version, which caught fire in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2004.

INSKEEP: Allison Hussey is a staff writer with Pitchfork.

ALLISON HUSSEY: To me, the "Cha Cha Slide" is, like, very married to, like, getting my first MP3 player, which - I don't remember if "Cha Cha Slide" ever made it onto that particular device, but it feels so just, like, locked with that time for me.

INSKEEP: Hussey also likes how accessible it is.

HUSSEY: In contrast to something like the "Electric Slide," I think it takes a little more finesse to actually be good at it. Whereas "Cha Cha Slide," it seems like the bar for entry is a lot lower.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHA CHA SLIDE")

DJ CASPER: Everybody clap your hands.

HUSSEY: It's not, like, a pure pop manufactured hit where it had 20 writers in a studio in Los Angeles. I think that, like, what they were able to do was just, like, tap into something really easy and natural and fun.

MCCAMMON: So the next time you're out on that dance floor, think of DJ Casper and (clapping) cha cha like no one is watching.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Well done. Good move.

MCCAMMON: Have you done it, Steve?

INSKEEP: No, I'm just going to watch you.

MCCAMMON: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHA CHA SLIDE")

DJ CASPER: How low can you go? Can you go down low? All the way to the floor? How low can you go? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.