Musician Frankie Knuckles, nicknamed the ‘Godfather of House,’ is dead at the age of 59. It is reported that the famous, Grammy-winning artist died as a result of complications from his Type II Diabetes. Knuckles developed the disease a few years ago. The popular DJ’s business partner, Frederick Dunson, spoke to newspapers on Monday and stated that Knuckles died at his home unexpectedly, coming as a shock to loved ones and fans alike.
Frankie Knuckles played a prominent role as a leader in dance music, having worked with some of the most legendary figures in the industry, such as Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson. Many of the individuals who worked with him have already begun to express their sadness on Twitter.
Knuckles first began his music career as a DJ in the early part of the 1970s, working with Larry Levan, a friend from his childhood. It is believed the phrase ‘House’ began when the musician started working at a local nightclub called The Warehouse. Fans would flock to local record stores asking for the music played at the club. Knuckles was known as an innovator, especially the experimental work he did with electronic drum-machine programming. His influence can be clearly heard on much of today’s modern dance music.
The ‘Godfather of House’, Frankie Knuckles, opened up a club of his own back in the early 1980s, but the venture proved to be unfruitful and was shut down after being open for four years. While the club failed, his career took off, as DJs playing his style of music were extremely popular in Europe and across the globe. This gave Knuckles the perfect opportunity to make a living doing what he loved most. His career began to expand and he started producing remixes of popular songs by big-time artists, eventually winning a Grammy in 1997.
As if his contribution to the music industry was not enough to solidify the man as a legend, in 2004, Chicago declared August 25th to be Frankie Knuckles Day. The city of Chicago also named the street where The Warehouse used to be located after the artist as well. These achievements make it clear that Knuckles has left a deep mark on music and culture.
Knuckles began to experience a number of health issues in the middle 2000s, breaking several bones in his right foot in a snowboarding accident due to osteomyelitis, which is a bone disease. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed as a diabetic and eventually had to have his foot amputated. The music legend stated that he felt much better after the foot was gone, even though it was emotionally difficult to accept at first.
When musicians like Frankie Knuckles pass away, it reminds people of their own mortality, and that another day of life is not promised to anyone. It brings to mind questions of legacy, and asks what exactly is being done to leave a mark, even a small one, on the world at large. Even though Knuckles, ‘The Godfather of House’, is dead at such a young age, he has left a deep imprint on the face of music and his influence will live on for generations to come.
by Michael Cantrell