This Day in Death

3.31.14: House Music Pioneer Frankie Knuckles – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:41 pm April 28, 2014

Sincerely, White People


Sad times as Chicago-based house music legend Frankie Knuckles has died. So if you’ve driven through Chicago recently and witnessed a lot of bouncing happening on the highway, there’s a 60% chance it was someone honoring Knuckles’ memory with some serious house bumpage and a 40% chance that the city still hasn’t bothered to address their network of gaping, cavernous potholes. Fucking hell, Chicago, this isn’t The Road Warrior, fill that shit in already.

While developing his DJ persona, Knuckles became an early advocate of cutting up reel-to-reel tapes to lengthen the most exciting parts for his guests, like some sort of musical EztenZe. When the Ecstasy-fueled rave scene exploded in the 80s, Knuckles preferred to hold tight to his sexy, R&B roots, delivering aphrodisiacal grooves like some sort of musical Viagra. Sorry, I’ve been reading a lot of comment spam lately. Point is, Knuckles became a genuine producer, going so far as to convince artists to rerecord their parts exclusively for his remixes:

“[When] you’ve got someone as big as Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson sitting there saying, ‘Whatever you want, however you want it, I’ll stay here as long as you need me,’ that’s the reward right there,” Knuckles said in 2011. “All the programmers I worked with were all classically trained musicians . . . I was teaching them a different side of what it is they do. Infusing certain ideas like Debussy-esque piano over a very thick house track or bass line is something that blew their minds. It blew mine, too, but it’s something they never imagined and/or heard of before . . . We didn’t know if it would work or not, but it did.”

Despite his innovation, Knuckles’ traditional style had eroded in popularity over the years due to the crunkitization of the younger generation, what with their high-top sneakers and their ironic t-shirts and whatever the hell these things are. But it’s all part of the cycle with this kind of thing, I suppose. Eventually every trend burns out, and maybe some day Knuckles’ style will return to the fore, causing his legacy to surge mightily upward and once again bring pleasure to dark and sweaty rooms across the country, like some sort of musical Cialis. Oh, goddammit!

Source: Rolling Stone

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