The comedy world was rocked after learning actor and comedian Anthony “AJ” Johnson has passed at the age of 55. News of the death of the actor best known for his roles in “Friday” as Ezal and Blue in the “I Got the Hook Up” films blew up on social media the morning of Sept. 20.
Online, fans and former collaborators sent their condolences while also sharing some of their favorite scenes and lines that Johnson delivered during television and movie appearances. Of those fond memories is the one rapper Bow Wow shared about the impact Johnson had on his career as an aspiring child emcee.
In his Instagram Story he shared, “I just want to give a Rest In Peace to A.J. Johnson. I wanna thank you man just for you know the comedic relief, everything that you been giving us from ‘Friday’ to ‘House Party 3’ you name it,” said the rapper.
He continued by sharing just how Johnson helped the then 6-year-old hopeful land his first impromptu performance in front of thousands.
“A little history on myself, some things y’all don’t know about the night I was discovered in ’93 by Snoop and Dre at the concert. It was actually AJ Johnson who found me in the crowd and picked me to get on the stage, he was the Chronic Tour emcee during the intermissions. He was the one who pointed me out, ‘Eh, yo, little man, come up here, come up here and do ya thing.’ And from there that’s when Daz [Dillinger] found me and walked me to the back,” he recalled.
He concluded by saying, “If it wasn’t for AJ Johnson’s eyes and him picking me out of a crowd of 20,000 people in Ohio I don’t think it would’ve ever been a Bow Wow. I wanna send my condolences out to his family. Rest in peace, my brother. You will truly be missed. You definitely gone go down in history as one of the greats. One love.”
According to TMZ, Johnson was found dead earlier in September inside a Los Angeles store. The exact date of his passing and cause of death have not yet been released. His representative, LyNea Bell, issued the following statement:
“The world of Comedy has truly been shaken, again. Our BH Talent family is heartbroken about the loss of the iconic legend of stage and screen Mr. Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson,” Bell said in a statement. “He has left with us amazing memories of his laughter, dynamic acting skills, but most of all his enormous personality and heart of gold.”
Rapper-actor Ice Cube took to Twitter to share his reaction to the tragic news. “Sad to wake up to the news about AJ Johnson passing away. Naturally funny dude who was straight outta Compton at the same time. Sorry I couldn’t bring your character Ezal back to the big screen in Last Friday…” wrote Cube.
Business and entertainment mogul Master P also shared a post to his Instagram account remembering the actor. “We had so many great memories on creating I Got the Hook Up 1 & 2. RIP AJ Johnson aka ‘Blue’ Talented and one of a kind. You’ll never be forgotten! #IGotTheHookUp From the hood to Hollywood, he did it his way. Another legend gone too soon!”
Johnson’s family has also launched a GoFundMe to help with his home-going service cost, as well as to help his surviving children and grandchildren.