Manchester music icon Denise Johnson to have debut solo album released two months after tragic death

MANCHESTER music icon Denise Johnson is to have her debut solo album released two months after her tragic death.

The talented vocalist had almost finished Where Does It Go before she died in July aged 56 following an illness.

Writing on Twitter just two weeks before she passed away, she said: “My debut acoustic album is on its way…”

Denise’s stripped-down, acoustic album will now be released on October 2 – with friends saying she was “hugely proud” of the record.

Born in Manchester in 1963, Johnson first came to prominence in the late 1980s as a singer with the American soul band Maze.

She was part of Primal Scream from 1990 to 1995, and is best known for vocal performances on their 1991 album Screamadelica.

She featured on two of their best-known songs, Higher Than the Sun and Don't Fight it, Feel It.

She also recorded with other prominent acts including the Pet Shop Boys and New Order.

Where Does It Go was produced by Denise and engineered by Thomas 'Twem' Twemlow, a Manchester-based guitarist who Denise met in 2003.

Twem said: "One of the first she asked me to play around with was True Faith: my first thought was ‘how the hell can I make an electronic track work on acoustic?’

“But, to be honest, when you've got someone like Denise singing, you can make anything work!"

The album was recorded at Hope Mill Recording Studios in Ancoats, Manchester.

One song Denise wanted to include on the album is her version of Ellie Greenwich's Sunshine After The Rain, a song Denise performed in her role as Mary, in the BBC's incredible live staging of The Manchester Passion in 2006.

Denise always cited this event as one of the highlights of her career – because she knew it had made her mother incredibly proud.


Her family said she had been ill in the week prior to her death, but told friends she was "much better" days before.

"The cause of death is not yet known, although she was discovered holding her inhaler on Monday morning," a statement read.

Paying tribute after her death, current Primal Scream member Simone Marie Butler wrote: "Very sad news love and prayers to Denise’s family and loved ones.

"Rest in Power Denise Johnson x."

A message on New Order's official account read: "New Order are devastated to hear the sad news that Denise Johnson has passed away.

"She was a beautiful person with a huge talent. Her voice graced many of our albums and live shows and that of our friends. We will miss her dearly."

Hundreds of people lined the streets for the funeral of the Primal Scream and New Order singer in August.

DJ Dave Haslam and TV personality Terry Christian were among those who attended and applauded as the cortege arrived in Barlow Moor Road.

At the funeral, photo collages of the singer showed some of her best performances, while words chosen by her loved ones were read for the occasion.

In a eulogy, cousin Sandra Hardial said Denise had sung with a number of bands and become a "pioneer of the Manchester music scene" in the late 1980s and 1990s.

She said: "Many knew her as an icon of the UK music scene but for me Denise was my best friend who I loved and adored."

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