They don’t call him ‘The Godfather of House’ for nothing. The late, definitely great, Francis Nicolls (that’s Mr. Frankie Knuckles to you!) played a key role in the emergence of House Music in Chicago and birthed almost everything that we love in electronic dance music.
Resident DJ at Chicago’s The Warehouse (from where House Music derived it’s name) from 1977 onwards Frankie mixed up his own edits of Disco, Euro synth tracks and obscure Soul records to the sound of a vintage drum machine (he bought from Derrick May) and that’s it! You basically have House right there. The sound would grow to be recreated in a studio environment but all the elements were laid in Knuckle’s legendary DJ mixes.
No doubt a massive influence of both his contemporaries like Larry Levan, and those, like Derrick May and Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk who followed in his footsteps (and adding their own twist), Knuckles remained a dominant figure in House Music and was a highly sought after DJ and reMixed until his tragic passing in 2014.
It’s very possible that Frankie Knuckles was our first introduction to ‘proper’ dance music as well. We remember seeing his name on a whole heap of SynthPop and 80s hits either as producer or reMixer (he worked with Pet Shop Boys for example) well before we knew what House Music actually was with unmistakable more dancefloor oriented productions.
Frankie Knuckles is perhaps best remembered for his releases with seminal House vocalist and producer Jamie Principle. The duo released a selection of 12”s written by Principle that laid the groundwork for what Dance music has sounded like for the last three decades. Next time you’re at a festival and go mental to the unexpected dropping of The Source and Candi Staton’s You Got The Love, that’s Frankie and Jamie, pay a little respect.
♫ Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle – Your Love
♫ Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle – Baby Wants To Ride
♫ Frankie Knuckles & Satoshi Tomiie – Tears
♫ Frankie Knuckles – The Whistle Song
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