Syl Johnson has died aged 85.

The Mississippi-born soul and blues legend, who was dubbed the "most-sampled" artist in hip-hop, has passed away.

His family confirmed: “It is with extreme sadness that our family announces the passing of Soul & Blues Hall of Fame Legend, Syl Johnson (born Sylvester Thompson in Holly Springs, MS). Dad, Brother, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Uncle, Friend & Artist, he lived his life as a singer, musician, and entrepreneur who loved black music.

“A fiery, fierce, fighter, always standing for the pursuit of justice as it related to his music and sound, he will truly be missed by all who crossed his path. His catalog and legacy will be remembered as impeccable and a historical blueprint to all who experience it.”

A cause of death is not known at this time.

The late star's 1967 track 'Different Strokes' - believed to be sampled more than 300 times - was used on the likes of Public Enemy’s 'Fight the Power' and 'Fear of a Black Planet', and Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 'The Joy'.

Despite being sampled so frequently, Syl didn't always receive royalties and slapped Cypress Hill and Kanye and Jay-Z with multi-million dollar lawsuits for copyright infringement.

However, all was resolved and he continued to bank cheques for the popular song.

Syl became a household name in the 60s and 70s and was signed to Chicago's Twinight Records.

However, he released hits on Hi Records in the 70s.

Syl released his debut album, 'Dresses Too Short', in 1968, featuring his first hit 'Come On Sock It to Me'.

He largely retired in the 80s, however, he returned for a duet with his daughter, Syleena Johnson, in the mid-90s.

Syleena, 45, went on to provide the vocals on Kanye's 'All Falls Down' from his 2004 LP 'The College Dropout'.

In 2010, the Numero Group released a retrospective of Syl's work, which was nominated for Best Historical Album and Best Liner notes at the Grammys.

The label tweeted in response to his death: “If any single artist could be considered a mascot for Numero, Mississippi-born soul man Syl Johnson was it. He was the first major artist to give our humble Southside Chicago operation a shot—even if he did threaten to sue us in that first conversation.”

Quoting the musician, they added: “I made my opportunities, but I never got the breaks I should have gotten. I was a jack-of-all-trades. More soul than Marvin, more funk than James. If I’d gone pop, you’d be talkin’ about me, not them. I rate right at the top, though I’ve been underrated all my life.”