Back in December, I discovered that Puff Johnson had died back in 2013. I had long admired her, and often wondered what had become of her.
The girl from Detroit, who had a couple of hits in 1996 (and released just one album, Miracle), had moved to South Africa in 2009, and it was only there that her death made the news.
But Puff always meant a lot to me. Her hits coincided with my formative teen years, and she was the soundtrack to early entanglements. Her two big hits - Forever More and Over And Over - didn't fade into the mists of time, and I've continued listening to her music in the twenty years since she disappeared.
And so, when I finally heard that she had died (I read about it on Wikipedia: the first line of her page is a dead giveaway: "Ewanya Johnson. December 10, 1972 – June 24, 2013"), I was horrified that no one else cared. No one even remembered her. Not even those for whom '90s R&B is whispered about with reverence. I asked friends. I asked colleagues at work. No one remembered. It was almost as if Puff Johnson was a figment of my imagination.
Then came the news that David Bowie had died. As much as Puff Johnson was a fixture of my teen years, Bowie was an iconic figure for people of a certain age, and '80s kids who liked him in Labyrinth. But I didn't get him. He was someone else's hero.
(When I first arrived in London, I lived for a time directly adjacent to Lambeth Hospital on Landor Road, around the corner from Bowie's first home at 40 Stansfield Road in Brixton. My boyfriend at the time would eventually end up in that hospital, sectioned under the Mental Health Act.)
Endless coverage has been devoted to Mr Bowie. So I'm writing here about Puff Johnson, a black girl from the Motor City who mattered a lot to a teenage boy twenty years ago. Maybe to you too, and you forgot about her. Look her up on YouTube.
She was good.