DJ Frankie Knuckles, known as the Godfather of House music, has died unexpectedly at the age of 59.
A pioneer of house – the sparse, electronic dance music that emerged from Chicago in the 1980s – Frankie Knuckles was known for remixing tracks by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, as well as his own songs, such as Your Love and The Whistle Song.
Frankie Knuckles’ death was confirmed by fellow DJ David Morales on Twitter.
“I am devastated to write that my dear friend Frankie Knuckles has passed away today,” David Morales wrote.
Frankie Knuckles’ longtime business partner, Frederick Dunson, told The Chicago Tribune told he had “died unexpectedly this afternoon at home”.
More details would be forthcoming on Tuesday, he added.
No reason has yet been given for his death but several music websites reported Frankie Knuckles had died of complications from Type 2 diabetes.
Born in the Bronx, Frankie Warren Knuckles Jr. learned his craft in New York City, where he was mentored by club DJ Larry Levan.
He moved to Chicago in the 1970s, just as disco was dying out, and pioneered a style of extending soul and R&B records by adding drum machine loops.
Frankie Knuckles made his name at The Warehouse, a club in northern Chicago, predominantly patronized by gay men from the black and Latin-American communities.
By 1982, he had opened the his own venue for house music, called the Power Plant, where he premiered several tracks by local artist Jamie Principle, recorded on reel-to-reel tape.
The DJ helped secure a commercial release for several of those tracks – including Your Love and Baby Wants to Ride – which are recognized as the some of the earliest house classics.
Frankie Knuckles also produced the house anthem Tears with Robert Owens, and began his remixing career with a version of First Choice’s Let No Man Put Asunder.
He later signed to Virgin Records, where he remixed or produced such artists as Mary J Blige, Janet Jackson, Pet Shop Boys, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Toni Braxton, and won a Grammy for best remixer of the year in 1997.
Inducted to the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2005, Frankie Knuckles also had a Chicago street named after him in 2004, on the former site of the Warehouse club.
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