Pioneer DJ and producer known as the godfather of house music

Frankie Knuckles: January 18th, 1955 - March 31st, 2014

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 14:00

Frankie Knuckles, a disc jockey, remixer and producer who was often called the “godfather of house” for helping that genre of dance music spread from Chicago nightclubs to global popularity, died on Monday at his home in Chicago. He was 59.

Knuckles, a Grammy Award winner in 1998, started his career working at New York clubs in the 1970s. In 1977, he moved to Chicago and began spinning at a club called the Warehouse.

He played R&B and disco standards along with a range of post-punk, reggae, funk and synthesizer-based Europop rarities. That unusual mix came to be nicknamed “house” music, after the club. In the early 1980s Knuckles began using a reel-to-reel tape recorder to edit his favourite tracks so he could extend the beat. In 1984 he incorporated a drum machine into his mixes.

His beat-driven version of Your Love , a pop song by a young singer named Jamie Principle, became a club hit in 1985. He returned to New York in 1988 where he worked on elaborate house remixes for artists like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan.

In 1991 he released his first album under his own name, Beyond the Mix , which included the singles The Whistle Song and Workout . His Grammy Award in 1998 was for nonclassical remixer of the year.

He is survived by a sister and two brothers.

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