Frankie Knuckles, the DJ and producer widely revered as the “Godfather of House,” has reportedly died due to complications with diabetes. He was 59.
Award-winning Chicago DJ Vince Lawrence is among those paying tribute. “A legend has fallen. All hail Frankie Knuckles an inspiration to us all,” Lawrence wrote on his Facebook page.
Born in the Bronx in 1955, Knuckles began DJing in New York in the early ’70s while still a teenager, some years before the disco explosion. A decade on he moved to Chicago, where he spliced disco hits and soulful tunes with a drum-machine for clubbers at the Music Box and the Warehouse, and later his own venue, the Power Plant.
His pioneering work in Chicago in the ‘80s is remembered for helping establish the foundations of clubland.
A prolific producer and remixer, Knuckles formed Def Mix Productions with David Morales and worked with many of the biggest pop stars in the game — Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Inner City and En Vogue.
He had to wait some time before the major labels got in touch for anything other than remix work. Virgin signed him to an artist contract in 1991 and released his debut album “Beyond the Mix,” which yielded the singles “The Whistle Song,” “Rainfalls,” and “Workout.”
In 2004, the City of Chicago renamed a stretch of Jefferson Street near the site of the old Warehouse, calling it “Frankie Knuckles Way.” The following year, Knuckles was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.