Jazztronica Pioneer Jeffrey Henry, aka DJ Chicken George, Has Died

Jeffrey Henry, the Austin jazztronica pioneer better known as DJ Chicken George, died over the weekend following a two-year battle with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of skin cancer.

Henry’s band, the hip-hop project Third Root, announced his death on Instagram Monday. According to the group, he died on Friday, May 10 – “just 1 day before he was to watch his daughter Brooklyn graduate from TSU.”

“Words can’t describe how much we’ll miss him,” Third Root said in the post. “We ask for prayers of healing at this time. If anyone would like to help the family with final expenses or a graduation tribute to Brooklyn, your support would be greatly appreciated.”

As a DJ, producer, and music curator, Chicken George championed all aspects of Black music. Third Root enlisted the likes of Black Pumas and Grupo Fantasma on their last album, 2020’s Passion of the Poets – which laid Charles Peters and Marco Cervantes’ flow atop Henry’s funky, electronic-tinged beats. Meanwhile, his label, Austin Boogie Crew, self-described its roster as boasting the “soulful, synth heavy, club friendly sounds” of modern funk.

In March 2022, Henry announced his cancer diagnosis. At the time, the artist said the disease had been misdiagnosed for so long that it had already reached Stage IV.

“At this point up until now, everything is heavy. I’m unable to lift more than 15 to 20 pounds comfortably, so sadly, forget about lifting a turntable or a crate of records,” Henry wrote in the announcement. Soon after, the DJ’s Austin Boogie Crew partner Danny Spence launched a GoFundMe to raise funds for Henry while he stopped taking DJ gigs. To date, the fundraiser has amassed $88,045 in donations.

Community support for Henry continued throughout his cancer battle. In August 2023, Riders Against the Storm, Blackillac, Third Root, and Adrian Quesada performed at an Empire Garage benefit for Chicken George, who the Chronicle said at the time “helped define Austin’s funk and rap scenes with deep grooves and thick sonics.”

Austin live music bookers Resound Presents honored DJ Chicken George on Instagram following news of his death. “His skills as a DJ, music curator, producer, self-marketing genius, and party-rocking legend will easily go down as Austin lore for decades to come,” the agency wrote.

The bookers continued, “While all of that is an easy go-to, the thing that was truly monumental about Jeff was him as a human, his personality, his smile, his immense and genuine kindness, the openness he had to everyone he met in the community, and how can you forget the aroma of coconut that lingered in the air after a quick high five or hug.”

“The term ‘legend’ gets easily dropped a lot on a local level as a descriptor of ones legacy, but in the case of Jeffrey, it rings true.”

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