The dance world is in mourning today about the news of the death of house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles. He was 59.
Frankie died unexpectedly at home on Monday afternoon from complications related to diabetes, his long-term business partner Frederick Dunson confirmed. He had not long returned from a gig in London at Ministry Of Sound last weekend for the 20th birthday of Rulin', one of the nights that helped spread the house sound in the UK in the early '90s.
Frankie was dubbed 'the godfather of house music' — for good reason. He started DJing at The Warehouse in Chicago in the late '70s, but after the backlash against disco he started playing obscure B-sides and imports, extending instrumental parts on reel-to-reel tape for maximum dancefloor impact and, later, bringing a drum machine (that he bought from a young Derrick May) into the DJ booth to boost the bottom end.
The club was predominantly black and gay — as was Frankie himself — and soon people around Chicago started calling the sound that they'd hear at The Warehouse 'house music'. It quickly spread to other clubs, and soon producers were making house tracks specifically for the clubs.
Frankie continued playing at the Warehouse until 1983, when he started his own club in Chicago, the Power Plant, where he stayed until 1987.
Knuckles himself made some seminal dance tracks...
...and in the early '90s he partnered with David Morales and Def Mix was born, the house music collective that also included Judy Weinstein, Hector Romero and a young Satoshi Tomiie.
Knuckles continued remixing, producing and DJing throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In 2004, Auugst 25th was declared 'Frankie Knuckles Day' in Chicago with the help of then-senator Barack Obama.
Without Frankie and his associates like Ron Hardy and Larry Levan, the dance world as we know and love it today will not have existed. Tributes have been pouring in from people from all corners of the dance community.
Kerri Chandler: “I'm gonna miss your humour most of all. Rest in peace, Frankie Knuckles. Your love for music started us all.”
Danny Rampling: “A spiritual man of great humility who brought us so much joy through his music. His legacy will live on forever.”
Disclosure: “Rest in peace Frankie Knuckles, an inspirational pioneer of the music we love.”
Laidback Luke: “RIP Dear Frankie Knuckles. Thank you for creating house music and having us enjoy it for all these years.”
DJ Marky: “So many 'Tears'... Rest in peace the godfather of house music. God bless you and thank you for everything, Mr Frankie Knuckles.”
Armin Van Buuren: “A true pioneer that started this whole thing. Frankie Knuckles R.I.P.”
Eats Everything: “I wouldn't be doing what I do if it wasn't for Frankie Knuckles and his generation of peers. So lucky they gave us House Music. So lucky.”
Pete Tong: “R.I.P #GodfatherOfHouse Frankie Knuckles, gentleman genius groundbreaker inspiration, blessed to have worked with you. Sad news.”
Yousef: “I'm hoping the kids who follow EDM will today learn of where it all came from and take a little part of Frankie's message with them. RIP.”
House music fans have already been buying copies of Frankie's 'Your Love' in an attempt to get it to the top of various charts as a tribute to the great man.