“Godfather” of House, Frankie Knuckles is dead at age 59, and the dance world mourns the loss of a legend. Chicago, Detroit and the dance world feel the sting from the loss of a man who knew music. Posts of his passing started going up Monday evening shocking peers and fans alike. People wondered if the Face book posts and tweets on Twitter, were some sort of sick April Fool’s Day joke. They were not. For house heads, lovers of the deep soulful dance beats that Knuckles perfected, the news of his passing seemed surreal. He set the standard for club music. Tributes to Knuckles for his music contributions continue to amass over the Internet.
Knuckles Face book Fan page has over 45,000 likes. His band musician page is not far behind with just over 25,000 likes. The numbers, just a sampling of the thousands who enjoyed his musical genius for over 30 years.
While house music originated in Chicago it was fast embraced by its sister city of Detroit. A quick run up interstate
I-94 brought DJ’s and club goers together. Independent projects unfolded between the sister cities bringing forth collaborations which set the house tone for the rest of the world. These magical music mixes placed the midwest cities of Chicago and Detroit on the map as the go-to places for dance music. The underground movement of dance music continued to grow, quickly replacing disco. The beats appealed to club culture uniting both newbies and older self-proclaimed” house heads.” House beats traveled the world leaving those who stepped into its sanctuary of sound feeling lighter, even as sweat dripped, while dancers worked out to the beat with music that speaks to the soul.
Born in the Bronx, Francis Knuckles obtained a DJ position at The Continental Baths at the tender age of, 18. The gay club in Manhattan was the perfect setting for his underground beats which would revolutionize a genre of music, one which has evolved into a club culture staple. Knuckles spoke of the Continental with fondness, “It was a special place containing an Olympic size pool, salon, and theater.” Knuckles said, “It was a place where party seekers would enter on Friday and not leave until Sunday.” Knuckles said. Frankie Knuckles House Legend is dead at 59, and the dance world mourns the loss.
The same type of die-hard club music fan followed Knuckles when he moved to Chicago in his early 20s to become house DJ at the Warehouse Club. In Chicago, he took a drum machine and reel-to-reel tape player setting up shop in the DJ booth where he looped popular phrases of Motown and Philadelphia songs into house classics. The prolonged beat grooving and thumping allowed songs to become long-playing mixes where dancers often fell into a hypnotic steps that many compare to a spiritual experience. The same type feeling that many black patrons remembered from church services where people are hit with spirit of the Holy Ghost. With deep house, dancers feel the beat and get lost in time.
House is a movement, a music genre that unites diverse music lovers across the globe. College co-eds, professionals, working class folk, straight and, gay from all backgrounds and cultures can be found sweating on the dance floor, together. Screaming the words to popular songs and classic hits like Knuckle’s Tears, and Your Love.
Knuckles, leaves a world-wide following and his music will go down in history as the sound that started a movement. Frankie Knuckles, house legend is dead 59, and the dance world mourns his loss. Ever thankful for the music he created that allowed for stress to fall away on the dance floor. Getting through a tough week was made easier by his mission to simply “let the music play.”
Opinion C. Imani Williams