Tuesday, 1 April 2014

R.I.P Frankie Knuckles - The Godfather Of House




Frankie Knuckles (Jan. 18, 1955 - Mar. 31, 2014) It's with greatest sadness that we've been reported about the passing of Frankie Knuckles, 59, at home, yesterday afternoon, living the whole House scene like some orphan. In these tragic circumstances, our deepest thoughts go to his family, his colleagues at Def Mix (David Morales, Satoshi Tomiie, Hector Romero, Bobby D'Ambrosio, Eric Kupper, not to mention Judy Weinstein) and countless friends... The news has been confirmed by his longtime business partner, Frederick Dunson, who said in an email this Mon. Mar. 31, 2014 that Frankie "died unexpectedly this afternoon at home". In addition to developing the sound and culture of House Music, Knuckles would go on to mix records by major artists such as Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode. Born in the Bronx, NYC on Jan. 18, 1955, Frankie learnt his craft as a DJ in the Big Apple, playing Soul, Disco, and R&B at The Continental Baths with fellow DJ Larry Levan during the second half of the seventies - "We would spend entire afternoons working up ideas on how to present a record so that people would hear it in a new way and fall in love with it. To us it was an art form.", he explained - , eventually spinning at Chicago the Warehouse on a regular basis, prior movin' to the Windy City just when Disco was loosing steam... "I witnessed that caper that Steve Dahl pulled at Disco Demolition Night - it took place on Jul. 12 1979, at Cosmikey Park in Chicago - and it didn't mean a thing to me or my crowd", Knuckles told the Tribune. "But it scared the record companies, so they stopped signing Disco artists and making Disco records. So we created our own thing in Chicago to fill the gap." Knuckles got his first drum machine from a young Derrick May, who regularly made the trip from Detroit to see him back then at the Warehouse and Ron Hardy at the Music Box, both in Chicago. Frankie also had a musical partnership with Chicago artist Jamie Principle, and helped put 'Your Love' and 'Baby Wants To Ride' out on vinyl after these tunes had been regulars on his reel-to-reel player at the Warehouse for a year. Meanwhile, he would DJ at the Warehouse until 1983, when he started his own club, The Power Plant... He became known as "the Godfather of Chicago House Music". He would extend mixes of Soul and R&B records and turn them into Dance tracks, introduce new singles being produced by fledgling House artists and incorporate drum machines to emphasize the beat. In addition to building dynamic ebb-and-flow sets that would keep his dancefloor filled from midnight to noon on weekends, he would create theater-of-the-mind scenarios with inventive sound and lighting. "Sometimes I’d shut down all the lights and set up a record where it would sound like a speeding train was about to crash into the club. People would lose their minds." He made numerous popular Def Classic Mixes with John Poppo as sound engineer, and partnered with David Morales on Def Mix Productions. With several important original productions and remixes to his name, by the early 90's, Knuckles was becoming a well-known name in the increasingly popular House Music genre. As a reviewer and the editor of a magazine dedicated to Dance Music, I've had the pleasure of meeting Frankie countless times, beginning in Miami at the Winter Music Conference. Just as David Morales who I also met very often, Frankie always managed to be accessible and so friendly, not loosing any opportunity to spread love and respect around him, be he behind the decks or in the streets. The last time I met him would be on Broadway, NYC, alongside the whole Def Mix family and Judy Weinstein at their HQ back in the first half of the 2000's... Ironically, but how could have it been otherwise, he was a part of our A Day in the life of... series here on facebook.com/indamixworldwide just a couple of days ago. So long, Frankie and R.I.P. The news of your death leaves us, music lovers, speechless... With eternal Love & Respect, MFSB



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