I’m at a loss words as I’m just getting word that House Music pioneer Frankie Knuckles has passed away..Man this hurts my heart. Known as the Godfather of House, Knuckles who was originally from the Bronx, New York moved to Chicago in the late 70s (1977) and started deejaying at a club called the Warehouse.
It was here that Knuckles introduced a style of deejaying accompanied with emerging uptempo soulful disco. This is not to be confused with the John Travolta/Bee Gees sound popularized in the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever‘ that led to the infamous slogan ‘disco sucks‘ and ironically a disastrous Disco Demolition Night by a notorious rock jock Steve Dahl in Chicago at Comiskey Park. The outcome of that event led to record companies abandoning disco and dance oriented music. The music being pushed by Knuckles survived and prospered.
What Knuckles highlighted was classic Black, urban, Philadelphia (Gamble and Huff) style R&B. It was disco as defined by artists like First Choice, Loletta Holloway, Barbara Roy and MFSB. In fact many considered the drum patterns used in MFSB’s ‘Love is the Message‘ as a primary building block around House.
Knuckles brought his New York style mixing and sound to a city that was already into cutting edge music. This sound became popular and picked up by other deejays like Kenny ‘Jamming’ Jason, Chip E, the late Ron Hardy and Keith ‘Funkmaster’ Farley to name a few and paved the way for what initially was known as ‘Warehouse music‘ and was later shortened to ‘House’.
Knuckles deejayed at the Warehouse up until the early 1980s and then later his own club called the Power Plant. He also started producing his own records. What really helped put him on the map was the release of an underground classic that was only on tape of one of House music’s early anthems ‘Your Love‘ by Jamie Principal.
By the late 80s early 90s House music started to explode worldwide and Knuckles was a key reason as he started to travel and do residencies in cities like London. he also developed his skillz not just a producer but as an incredible remixer. He touched everyone from Michael Jackson to Chaka Khan to Diana Ross to the Pet Shop Boys to Janet Jackson on down. There are simply to many to name. One thing was certain a Frankie Knuckle’s remix was almost always good to go. His own projects released on Virgin records like the Whistle Song and Rain Falls are classics 20 years after the fact.
Since its humble beginnings House music has evolved and splintered into numerous sub-genres with its history so distorted in terms of its history that many forget its a Black music genre rooted in deep soul and was the heart of the Windy City Chicago with Frankie Knuckles was the center piece. So admired was Frankie Knuckles is that he has a street named after him in Chicago, Frankie Knuckles Way.
The Godfather of House will be missed.. With his sudden passing I only folks all over the planet are stunned. Today House is a multi-billion dollar a year industry under the umbrella of what people called EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Names like Dave Guetta and Deadmau5 are the big names that everyone likes to mention, but make no mistake there’s none of this EDM stuff if it wasn’t for the groundbreaking, pioneering efforts of Frankie Knuckles. He transformed music for the better.
Below is our HKR Interview and tribute to Frankie Knuckles