Now, we could sit here all disco days and nights and get lost in the incredible career and music catalog of dearly departed DJ legend, Frankie Knuckles. We could also go on and about his tireless efforts to keep the house music world on its disco balls, how much of a music pioneer he was, and how he was basically a house music hero, and really, so much more. Instead, Philly Mixtape wanted to not only honor this incredible gone-too-soon talent, but to also inform those who may have not discovered his name yet, to explain why he was just such a music force to be reckoned with while he graced us with his glowing presence. March 31st will mark one year since the music world lost Frankie, as he left behind a legacy and a music catalog that will live on for all eternity. To commemorate the somber occasion, we came up with 10 reasons why it is so important to always bow down to the Godfather of House for the rest of our music lives…
1.His humble music beginnings….
Much like we all strive to do, Frankie got his start by working hard to climb up that coveted music ladder. Born in the boogie down Bronx, Knuckles got his start in music life by listening to jazz, thanks to getting lost in his sister’s extensive jazz collection. After exploring the NYC club scene as a teenager, he hooked up with his childhood friend, Larry Levan, and the two began turning it at now defunct NYC hotspot, the Gallery. After the two music buds parted ways to go down separate music paths, a group of entrepreneurs asked Levan to join them on a new nightlife venture as a DJ in Chicago. Mr. Levan declined, but recommended his dear friend, Mr. Knuckles. From there, Frankie’s music magic truly began…
2.He changed the house music foundation…forever….
Once Frankie moved to Chicago in 1977, he began spinning at famed club, ‘The Warehouse,’ where he would delightfully spin Salsoul and Philadelphia International records, as well as including the use of beat-mixing and the addition of percussion fills on a separate turntable, to make that soul house music just….pop. However, it wasn’t until Frankie opened his own club, ‘Power Plant,’ that caught everyone’s ears, as the iconic DJ would use his newly crafted house music foundation on his own recordings, “Baby Wants To Ride,” “You Got The Love,” and most nobly, “The Whistle Song.” These trailblazing tracks were not only named as some of the best ditties to come out during the Chicago house music explosion of the mid-’80s, but to this day, they are still named as some of the best house tracks ever to grace dance floors. After Framkie exploded in Chicago, it wasn’t long until he went back to his NYC roots, teaming up with the legendary David Morales to form Def Mix Productions, and soon the two would remix hits for some of the biggest names in the music business….
3.All those diva-licious rewerks….
Frankie set ablaze all of those club diva firestorms you hear today by dishing out a whole beat buffet of superb remixes by some of the biggest diva names in the biz. Where do we begin? Donna Summer (R.I.P., boo.), En Vogue, Michael Jackson, Lisa Stansfield, Crystal Waters, Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston (sigh…), Jamie Principle. Get the point? Good, let’s dance.
4. Every DJ spinning today owes their career to him…
Whether you’re a new DJ on the scene, one that’s been spinning for years, a club DJ, club dancer, mainstream DJ or David Guetta, you no doubt owe your career, your ebb, your flow, your music….your life…to Frankie Knuckles.
5.Just watching him turn it out, you feel the music love…
Like this video right here of Mr. Knuckles turning it out at NYC’s Boiler Room. Not only is the set incredible, but just watching Frankie move along to the beat and seeing his reaction when he hits that perfect mix is timeless.
6.His explosive music catalog will musically live on forever…
Whether it’s today, a year from now, twenty years or a hundred, Frankie’s explosive music catalog will forever live on and continue to be discovered by all of those that take on their DJ path. Not only does his work contain moments of pure, shimmering brilliance, but all of his grooves still have a funkdafied and fresh feeling that will just take you there and beyond. In fact, just the other day, Philly Mixtape stumbled across a glorious music retelling of Donna Summer’s disco anthem, “Hot Stuff,” which will now live on forever in the Mixtape music vault. Thank you, Mr. Knuckles.
7.He has a Grammy and you don’t…
He won the Grammy for Best Award for the Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical in 1998. He was also the very first winner of the newly created category.
8.He’s a music legend….
All of the reasons listed above really lead to one of the most important reasons on the list-Frankie Knuckles is a true music legend. For over four decades, the house music pioneer worked tirelessly on his DJ efforts, also making sure to not only bring those beats to life, but to make sure that the house music world was given life. There’s a reason he was dubbed the ‘Godfather of House,” because without his tireless efforts, there’s no doubt that our personal music houses would be off their foundation.
9.He’s spinning up in disco heaven with DJ Peter Rauhofer….
Shortly before Frankie’s death, the house music world took its first blow when iconic DJ Peter Rauhofer lost his battle with brain cancer. Much like Knuckles, Rauhofer was also a house music pioneer who created some of the most powerful club anthems ever to hit dance floors. Together, the two of them must be turning it out, and we can ONLY imagine what they are coming up with while spinning on that turntable of life.
10.Do you really need another reason?