Skip to main content
Arielle Lana LeJarde
10 June 2024, 14:16

Chuck Roberts, iconic Chicago house music vocalist, dies aged 66

The songwriter was best known for his contribution to Rhythm Control's classic 'My House'

Chuck Roberts singing into a microphone while wearing shades

Chicago house music vocalist Chuck Roberts has died aged 66.

5Mag reports that the artist passed away “peacefully” last Thursday, 6th June, after a battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family in Berwyn, Illinois, a suburban town just outside of Chicago.

Regarded by many as “The Voice Of House Music”, Roberts is best known for his impassioned sermon on Rhythm Controll's 1987 hit, 'My House', which opens with the line: “In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove...”

Roberts’ acapella would go on to be sampled hundreds of times, on tracks including a version of Mr. Fingers’ deep house classic, 'Can You Feel It'.

Roberts grew up on the west side of Chicago, and began singing at church events at the age of six. In a 2023 interview with Everything House Music & More, he explained how he first discovered house music in 1986 through a venue called the Factory, which had a studio where DJs came to record mixes. He was part of an R&B group at the time.

After being introduced to house music, Roberts began exploring the genre on his own, and was inspired by artists such as The Peach Boys, Adonis, and Vince Lawrence. "House music has its own identity," he said in that interview. "It could be separated and identified completely differently from anything else that was coming out because house music had the ability to do things that other music didn't do."

In 2018, Roberts laid out the 10 commandments of house music, including rules like "Thou shalt always be courteous and kind when Jacking on the dancefloor!" and "Charity starts at home before it can spread abroad, support your local artistry!"

Roberts continued writing, releasing and performing music in the decades after ‘My House’, including a collaborative track with Wongo titled ‘The Preacher’ in 2022 and his own ‘I Choose To Live’, released via Ultra in 2020.

News of Roberts’ passing was first shared on Friday, 7th June, by Chicago DJ and producer Terry Hunter, with whom the legendary vocalist collaborated in 2018 on a reimagined version of ‘My House’ titled ‘In The Beginning (There Was Jack)’ featuring Monique Bingham. In a post shared on Facebook, Hunter wrote: "I can’t believe I’m writing this! RIP Chuck The Voice Roberts!"

Further tributes have been paid in the days since. Defected Records wrote: "We are saddened to hear about the passing of the legendary Chuck Roberts. The man who penned one of the most iconic vocals in house music."

Read some more tributes and listen to 'My House' below.