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Chicago House Pioneer Frankie Knuckles Dead at 59

Frankie Knuckles

Earlier this evening 5Chicago reported that legendary house DJ Frankie Knuckles has passed away. The news was confirmed by Knuckles’ former recording partner David Morales and Chicago house DJs Paul Johnson and DJ Deeon via social media soon after. Knuckles’ longtime business partner, Frederick Dunson, confirmed late last night to the Chicago Tribune that the DJ “died unexpectedly this afternoon at home.”

Frankie Knuckles is commonly acknowledged as the Godfather of House Music for his work in pioneering and defining the early days of the genre. Born in 1955 and raised in the Bronx, the iconic musician spent his early years in music DJing alongside Larry Levan at New York City’s Continental Baths before moving to Chicago in the 1970s. A master of drum machines and his own remixed edits of popular dance tracks, Knuckles quickly became a regular performer at the city’s Warehouse club when it opened in 1977. (“House music” was ultimately coined by dancers who would go to hear Frankie Knuckles play at the Warehouse.) By 1982, Knuckles had opened the his own venue for house music called the Power Plant.

Knuckles was best known for his original production (including the hits “Your Love,” “Baby Wants To Ride,” and “Whistle Song”) and his remix work for Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and Hercules & Love Affair, among others.