April 1, 2014


House Music Pioneer Frankie Knuckles Dead at 59

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Last night, house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles died at the age of 59. The cause of death has not been released, but it was known by friends that the man widely referred to as the "Godfather of House" had been in poor health.

The Black Madonna, a DJ in charge of booking shows at the landmark Chicago dance club Smart Bar, tweeted last night that she last saw Knuckles at his annual birthday party this past January. "He was too sick to play his birthday," she wrote. "He sat in the green room and Smart Bar sang to him through the floor. In a way, we knew then that we weren't going to keep him much longer."

Knuckles began DJing as a college student in New York in the early 1970s before moving to Chicago in 1977. There, he began spinning regularly at a club called Warehouse, and eventually the music he played—often his own edits of disco tracks—began to be known by patrons and fans as "house" music. In 1983, he opened his own club in the city called the Power Plant. As critic Jess Harvell wrote on Twitter last night, Knuckles was "one of a handful of people where his taste in music alone radically changed the direction of pop forever."

Soon, Knuckles became known for his remixes and original production work. Check out a playlist of his most enduring tracks below.