• Remembering Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014)

    Date: 2014.04.07 | Category: Latest News | Tags:

    frankieIn every genre of music, there is always one person who stands out from the rest at a particular generation. For instance, in the 19th century, it was Debussy who dominated the world of Jazz music. So many years thereafter, he was replaced by Buddy Bolden as the life of Jazz during his generation. Just as these famous personas are, no one can disagree on who brought to life the house music. He is no other than Frankie Knuckles. Sad to say though, Knuckles died at the age of 59 last March 31. Causes regarding his death are yet to be investigated but suspicions lean on Diabetes complications – a disease he started having in the 2000s.  Here, we take a look at this artist’s major contribution to the music world.

    Frankie Knuckles is one of the most creative music remixers in the 80s and 90s. He is a glorified as a vital DJ during his time. At his clubs in Chicago, Knuckles features his personal edits of different genres of music – disco to punk, R&B to disco. His works was the backbone of what is now the talk of the century “house music”. Just among his masterpieces in the course of about two decades are Your Love (1986), Baby Wants to Ride (1987), Tears, (1989), The Pressure (1992).

    How Knuckle’s Career Came About?

    Raised in the soils of Francis Nicholls in the Bronx on January 18, 1955, Francis Knuckles career started in his teens when he spent most of his night life from one club to another. He did this together with his best buddy, Larry Philpot who later on was known as Levan. They became popular as DJs only in the seventies when they started spending hours of works in the Gallery and Continental Baths.

    By late 70s, Levan and Knuckles finally decided to pursue their careers separately. They managed their own clubs in separate cities. Levan dominated Paradise Garage in Soho while Knuckles made history in Chicago. There Knuckles met Robert Williams, an old confidante of his who just opened a club called The Warehouse. Within the four walls of this club, Knuckles began to hone his skills in mixing music. He took a leap of faith during that time and created sounds which were out of this world. He mixed discos, Classic, rock, and indie in one. This was later on named as House Music – name came from The Warehouse where Knuckles spent time experimenting and creating his own music style. Currently, the area where The Warehouse used to stand was honored in favor of Frankie Knuckles.

    During the time Knuckles made public his own style, what was popular was plane disco music which later on brought to life the pop culture. But this did not stop Knuckles from spinning his own weird yet interesting style of music. He loved how strange yet pleasing his mixes came to be. He went beyond the traditional disco music – a sign of how much risk he was willing to take just to be original and distinct from all else.

    Surprisingly, his mixes received a lot of credits. It was featured in local radio stations in Chicago. This made Knuckles so popular. And his popularity extended to the club The Warehouse, itself. From a members-only club where frequenters were mostly black gay men, The Warehouse began to be crowded with straight white crowds. This prompted its owner Robert Williams to eschew steer clear of new members.

    Owing to this, Knuckles opened his very own club known was the Power Plant. There he was introduced to the power of drum machine and eventually was able to enhance his mixes. The sound of drum machine combined with his disco classic was the real definition of house music in the 80s.  Then, Knuckles began making his first records with singer-songwriter Byron Walfard (Jamie Principle). They were able to release their records later on.

    But house music never just settled in the clubs of Chicago. Just miles away from Chicago, house music also became popular in England in the late 80s. Among the famous records were Love Can’t Turn Around and Jack Your Body.

    From there, Knuckles made his way to opening a series of clubs – the Roxy, the World, Sound Factory Bar and so much more. He also began to team up with his manager Judy Weinstein and another DJ named David Morales and formed Def Mix Productions which brought Frankie Knuckles career to a more professional level. He was able to work with famous artists like Luther Vandross, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

    Knuckles Nearing His End

    Although, Knuckles really had no interest in laying low with his music career, uncontrollable situations caused his popularity to fade. These included health issues which was brought about a snowboarding accident in 2000 which complicated to a bone disease. He also acquired diabetes which resulted to a right foot amputation in 2008.

    But this was not the point where Knuckle’s music career ended. In fact, in 2008, newer DJs began to discover his Chicago House Music mixes and brought these to life again. Knuckles even was able to release remixes of his vintage arrangements. Once again, he took a great risk and made another history.

    The very recent news on Knuckles was that he visits global clubs and festival circuits to introduce to the younger generation the music he was exposed to back when he was in The Warehouse.

    Knuckles Awards and Recognitions

    Knuckles just can’t stop himself from being successful. His success was evidenced by a number of awards and recognitions. In 1997, Knuckles won a Grammy Award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical. The city of Chicago named the block where The Warehouse once stood after Knuckles in 2004 – “The Frankie Knuckes Way”. In 2005, his achievements were finally recognized when he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.

    Since his death last March 31st, a lot of house music fans began to purchase his popular mix “Your Love” just so it could hit top of various music charts – a way to honor and bring tribute to the great man Frankie Knuckles was.