Godfather Of House Music, Frankie Knuckles Dead At 59
Godfather of house and electronic dance music, Frankie Knuckles has died suddenly at the age of 59 from what is being reported as complications related to Type II diabetes. A native son of The Bronx, Knuckles (born Francis Nicholls) began DJing in New York City during the early 70s with friend and musical contemporary, Larry Levan. He would later make a name for himself in Chicago as a radio and club DJ. Knuckles came to prominence in the late 70s after moving to Chi-Town to man the decks at a club called The Warehouse, where he delivered an infectious, rhythmic sound that packed the venue and spawned the term house music - a term club regulars reportedly used to refer to the music he played when they requested it at local record shops.
He became known for extending the groove with edits to a great variety of popular dance and electronic tracks and delivering a host of seminal club hits including "Your Love", "Baby Wants To Ride", "The Whistle Song" and "Tears." Many of those classic tracks were recorded with Jamie Principle. In the 80s, Frankie Knuckles left The Warehouse and moved to his own venue called the Power Plant where he continued to stand at the helm of the movement. Knuckles' sonic innovations were only enhanced by the addition of a drum machine, which he first received from Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May.
The drum machine combined with Knuckles' ear for dance classics laid the foundation for house as we know it today. That sound spread across the world, making a particularly big splash in the UK, where it would ultimately give birth to rave culture. Credited with shepherding the genre, Knuckles went on to team with DJ David Morales to alter the entire landscape of remix culture by composing alternate tracks from the ground up, often recruiting musical icons to lay new vocals and employing classically trained musicians; Knuckles and Morales' approach served as a stark contrast to the established practice of tinkering, cutting and pasting that had previously defined the art of remixing.
His contributions have been honored by the Dance Music Hall of Fame. The city of Chicago also named a stretch of real estate near the site that once housed The Warehouse after him in 2004. Knuckles had been playing the international club and festival circuit as of late, with upcoming dates reportedly scheduled at the time of his death. The loss of Frankie Knuckles is a catastrophic blow, not just to the house and electronic dance communities, but to music at large. The only proper way to celebrate his life is to play the music loud and leave it all on the dancefloor. Check the footage below to watch Frankie Knuckles' epic April 2013 mix for Boiler Room. Pour a little out for the godfather of house. Rest in peace, Frankie Knuckles.
Spotted at RS.