Tributes to ‘music pioneer’ at singer Denise Johnson’s funeral

Tributes have been paid to a “pioneer of the Manchester music scene” at her funeral.

More than 100 mourners stood outside Manchester Crematorium on Wednesday to pay their respects to singer Denise Johnson, while others watched the service online on a live-stream.

The 56-year-old was known for her work on Primal Scream’s critically acclaimed 1991 album Screamadelica.

Denise Johnson funeral
Denise Johnson (Pete Smith/PA)

Restricted numbers inside the crematorium meant mourners were asked to line the route of the funeral procession through Chorlton.

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

The coffin, which was black with Denise written on the side in silver, was in a silver carriage pulled by two horses and had sunflowers laid on the top of it.

One mourner carried balloons in the shape of hearts and stars and some people were in tears at the sight of the funeral procession.

The service began with the musician’s 1994 single Rays Of The Rising Sun.

Denise Johnson funeral
The coffin was carried in a silver carriage pulled by two horses (Peter Byrne/PA)

In a eulogy, cousin Sandra Hardial said Johnson 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.”

She said a debut solo album by Johnson was due to be released in September.

Friend Sue Langford said: “The music she made throughout her life will be her legacy. It will continue to comfort us and help us to heal but also to inspire us and bring us joy.”

Another cousin, Lloyd Hardial, described Johnson’s childhood growing up in Manchester, adding: “A prouder Mancunian I have never met.”

Denise Johnson funeral
The coffin of singer Denise Johnson arrives at Manchester Crematorium (Peter Byrne/PA)

The poem Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou was read and Just A Little More, which Johnson recorded with Fifth Of Heaven, was played.

The service ended with a recording of Johnson singing True Faith by New Order, one of many groups she performed with.

Following her death, tributes were paid by stars including Johnny Marr and Peter Hook, as well as Primal Scream.

A family statement, posted on the website of band A Certain Ratio, who Johnson sang with, said: “Everyone in Denise’s family has been stunned by how much love has poured from friends and colleagues around the country and from all corners of the world: they’ve found it so supportive after Denise’s sudden death, and their message to you all is, simply, ‘Thank you’.”

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