Johnny Kemp dead at 55, found floating on a beach near Montego Bay
Johnny Kemp, known for his 1988 smash hit “Just Got Paid,” has died.
He was 55.
The Bahamas Weekly first reported the news of Kemp’s passing. The paper’s original report stated Kemp died Thursday after falling and hitting his head while aboard a Tom Joyner cruise — but that information has since been retracted.
Christopher Powell, an assistant to Kemp for the past three years, told theGrio.com he received a call from Kemp’s wife, Deidre, Thursday saying the singer was dead.
Powell said Kemp’s wife told him her husband was found by police in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Police told The Associated Press the singer was found “floating at a beach.”
Powell said police identified Kemp because he had his Bahamian passport on him.
“He couldn’t board the [Tom Joyner] cruise because he didn’t have a permanent residency card or something,” Powell told theGrio.com. “Kemp is Bahamian. Whatever it was, he didn’t have the right paperwork. They wouldn’t let him board.”
Powell said Kemp caught a flight from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Jamaica Wednesday morning. The Tom Joyner “Fantastic Voyage” cruise ship was set to depart late Wednesday night, according to the cruise’s official itinerary.
Powell said Kemp returned to a hotel in Montego Bay that same night. The hotel called Kemp’s wife, Deidre, to inform her the singer was dead. Deidre was growing concerned when Johnny was not responding to her phone calls or e-mails, Powell said.
Kemp was scheduled to arrive back in New York on Friday.
Kemp’s wife posted on her Facebook page Friday afternoon, writing “Lord, hold onto me as I go forward with faith in You.”
Kevin Woodley was Kemp’s A&R person at Columbia Records in the late 80s and early 90s.
“He was an incredible singer and a personal friend,” Woodley said. “I’m deeply saddened by this loss.”
Tom Joyner’s REACH Media, Inc. e-mailed theGrio.com and several other outlets the following statement Friday afternoon:
“We have received confirmation that Johnny Kemp has passed away. We do not have any other details. We can confirm he was not on the ship for the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage Cruise.”
The Bahamian singer received a grammy nod for “Just Got Paid.” He was scheduled to appear with singer Tanaa Gardner in concert at SummerStage in Brooklyn, New York, this summer.
Tom Joyner’s BlackAmericaWeb.com reports Kemp was scheduled to appear on the cruise alongside Teddy Riley but “was not on the ship at the time of his death.”
Kemp is survived by his wife and the couple’s two sons, Jared and Jason.