DJ/producer/remixer Frankie Knuckles—one of the prime architects of house music—died March 31, reportedly due to complications from Type 2 diabetes. He was 59.
In the '70s, Knuckles took the knowledge and skills he learned under New York DJ Larry Levan to Chicago and applied them to the dance-music scene there at the Warehouse club, where he held a residency from 1977-1982. After leaving the Warehouse, Knuckles started his own club, the Power Plant, and further established his eclectic style of DJing. He became famous for stretching out soul and R&B songs until they became marathon dance tracks. He also added his own drum-machine beats to augment tracks he was spinning. His midnight-to-noon weekend DJ sets would involve creative uses of lighting and sound. In Greg Kot's Chicago Tribune obit, Knuckles is quoted as saying, “Sometimes I’d shut down all the lights and set up a record where it would sound like a speeding train was about to crash into the club. People would lose their minds.”
At his Chicago clubs the Warehouse (1977-82) and Power Plant (1983-85), Knuckles’ marathon sets, typically featuring his own extended edits of a wide selection of tracks from disco to post-punk, R&B to synth-heavy Eurodisco, laid the groundwork for electronic dance music culture—all of it.
RIP, Frankie Knuckles.