Primal Scream, New Order, A Certain Ratio singer Denise Johnson dead at 56

Denise Johnson
Denise Johnson (Image credit: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns - Getty)

Singer Denise Johnson, who sang with bands including Primal Scream, A Certain Ratio, New Order, and Bernard Sumner & Johnny Marr’s Electronic has died at the age of 56.

The news was confirmed by her family to the BBC, saying that she “died suddenly” after an illness.

Johnson was planning on releasing her debut acoustic solo covers album Where Does It Go in September.

Johnson played with Primal Scream between 1991 and 1995, appearing on Screamadelica and Give Out But Don't Give Up and recalled to Louder Than War in 2018 how she joined the band, saying: “I’d been singing at a local recording studio called Spirit Studios, which was a great experience in learning the ins and outs of recording.

“There, I met a band called Hypnotone who were Tony Martin and Martin Mitler who wanted me to sing on a track, they’d done called Dream Beam. They were then signed to Creation Records and Tony from the band had been doing bits of programming for Primal Scream in the studio in London.

“Bobby Gillespie and the band had written a song called Don’t Fight It, Feel It that he didn’t feel he could sing/do it justice and thought it’d be good to have a female voice sing the lead vocal... much to Creation boss Alan McGee’s dismay. 

"He didn’t feel the band having someone else other than Bobby singing was a good idea. Tony suggested me.”

Tributes have been pouring in for Johnson across social media, with Primal Scream saying: "We were sad to hear about the passing of Denise Johnson. Our condolences to her family and friends. 

"Denise's vital contributions to our Screamadelica and Give Out But Don't Give Up albums and tours are a testament to her talent. Precious memories."

New Order tweeted: “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.”

Johnny Marr said: “Such sad news about our dear friend Denise Johnson. Playing alongside her was something else. It was a privilege to work with her.”

A Certain Ratio added: "It is with great sadness that we can confirm our beautiful dear friend Denise has passed away. A full statement will be released later, for now please give her family and friends the space they need.

"Spend sometime listening to her wonderful voice, remembering her loving nature and infectious sense of humour."

Jimi Goodwin of Doves said: “Just devastated by the news of the passing of such a beautiful lady Denise Johnson. Rest in Peace Sweetheart. lost for words.”

Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown simply said: “RIP lovely Denise Johnson.”

No cause of death has been made public.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.