‘Cha Cha Slide’ Creator DJ Casper Fighting Cancer
Whether you heard it in the backyard at the family function, on the skating rink floor, or in your car on your way home from work, you’re probably familiar with the 2000 dance hit “Cha Cha Slide.”
Willie Perry, better known as DJ Casper, first made the track as a workout song for his nephew who was a fitness trainer at the time. Making its way from the gym to local radio stations, and beyond, the track soon became a worldwide sensation, even landing at the number one spot on the U.K. singles chart.
Fast forward some years, and the Chicago native is continuing to create dynamic dance tracks, while DJing for V103 Chicago, all amidst battling two forms of kidney cancer. It’s been a difficult journey, but DJ Casper remains in good spirits.
JET spoke with his wife, Joyce Perry, about DJ Casper’s cancer fight, an upcoming tribute event, and what’s he’s mixing up next.
JET: When I hear the name DJ Casper, I am mentally transported to sliding to the left and sliding to the right at family cookouts. Can you tell us about the origins of the song and the genesis of Casper’s DJ career as a whole?
Joyce Perry: DJing was something that was always in him. The song was recorded, because he had created an exercise, and he wanted to put music to it, and that’s basically how it came about.
JET: And it sort of just blew up from there?
Perry: Yup. Absolutely.
JET: I imagine it had to be crazy to see all the success that quickly followed. I understand that he continues to DJ today, but that this year has been a difficult one, as he was diagnosed with cancer. How has this experience been physically and emotionally for him and the family?
Perry: He was diagnosed in January and found out he actually has two types of cancer: kidney cancer and neuroendocrine. When he found out, it was kind of hard, because he’s always been a free-flowing person. So, to be stopped in his tracks was difficult for him, but I think he’s come to the point now that he’s accepted it.
JET: How has treatment been for Casper and how is he feeling lately?
Perry: They did surgery on him at the end of January, but were unsuccessful, so they decided to do chemotherapy. I’m able to give him injections every day, because I’m a nurse, which is a blessing. My mom is a pastor, so there are a lot of prayers going up, and some Sundays, we make it to church.
JET: I hear you’re throwing a benefit event in Casper’s honor next month. Can you tell us more about that?
Perry: He’s not working nearly as much as he used to, and all the medications are quite expensive, so I had it on my heart to throw him a benefit. There will be dinner, live entertainment and a special tribute to Casper to highlight all he’s done. He’s not just the guy who created the “Cha-Cha Slide.” In the process of paving his career, Casper used to roller skate and he won the World’s Largest Steppers Contest nine times straight.
JET: Nine times?! Wow. So what’s next for DJ Casper?
Perry: He’s continuing to write. He just put a song out called “The Pimpwalk,” which is a line dance and a slide, and another one called “Hold Up.”
JET: Before we go, what is one thing you want the JET audience to walk away knowing about your husband after reading this piece?
Perry: With this event, I’ve come in to contact with so many people and, oh my God, if you could just hear some of the stories they’re saying about my husband…it overwhelms me sometimes. He’s just a great husband, he’s a great father and he’s a great friend.
If you would like to attend the “Everybody Clap Your Hands” benefit event, or to make a donation to the Perry family, please see below for details.
All other donations can be sent to the following address:
PO Box 288212
Chicago, IL 60628