Frankie Knuckles, 'godfather of Chicago house,' dead at 59

Tributes are being heard from around the world in memory of Frankie Knuckles, the man known as The Godfather of Chicago House Music.
April 1, 2014 2:52:29 PM PDT
Tributes are being heard from around the world in memory of Frankie Knuckles, the man known as The Godfather of Chicago House Music.

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The legendary DJ and music producer passed away Monday at the age of 59.

House music originated in Chicago dance clubs more than 30 years ago and no one embodied the spirit of the genre more than Frankie Knuckles.

Eight years ago, the DJ talked about why it resonated with people.

"They feel uplifted and they feel satisfied," he said.

Knuckles earned the nickname "The Godfather of House Music," and is credited with spreading it to dance floors around the world, earning a Grammy along the way.

But Monday night, the 59-year-old died in his Chicago home of complications of diabetes.

"He had so much knowledge about the business than most people and he didn't mind sharing it and helping them along the way," said house music DJ Farley Jackmaster Funk.

Farley Jackmaster Funk is one of Knuckles' contemporaries and says Knuckles would play clubs around the world and got back from London two days before he died.

"He's loved by so many that when he wanted to take some time off, his fans wouldn't allow him and for me, I think that was his demise, always trying to give more of himself," he said.

Nine years ago, the 200 block of South Jefferson was named after Frankie Knuckles. This was where the legendary dance club the warehouse was where knuckles was a dj in the late 70s and 80s and developed a devoted following.

Knuckles took up-and-coming DJs under his wing, often playing their songs in clubs more than his.

But Knuckles is responsible for classic dance hits that remain favorites today.

"You could put on a Frankie record that he did in '85 and it would still work today because musically it's gonna be something that will move your soul," Steve "Silk" Hurley said.

Among the tributes pouring in is a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "Over his long career Frankie made his way into the ranks of those artists and innovators who came to this city not just to contribute to a musical genre, but to create one themselves."

Knuckles' fellow DJs are planning tribute concerts to him the coming months.