Famed DJ and record producer Frankie Knuckles, who helped popularize house music first in Chicago then all over the country, earning him the nickname the Godfather of House Music, died “unexpectedly” on Monday at the age of 59. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Grammy-winning Knuckles worked with the likes of Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, and was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Knuckles was mentored by the renowned DJ Larry Levan in the early ‘70s while in New York. “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,” Knuckles said. “To us it was an art form.”
He brought that knowledge west with him to Chicago, where he became known as “the godfather of Chicago house music” at the Warehouse and later the Power Plant. 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.” (Via)
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