I’m sure everyone has heard by now about the passing of a legend, Mr. Frankie Knuckles. Without him, House music would not be what it is today, and I’d like to take the time to focus on his contributions to this music and the world.
Many people believed rock-jock Steve Dahl when he organized an anti-disco rally at a Chicago White Sox game in 1979. Thousands of records were burned in an attempt to kill disco and many took it as an expression of hate against non-whites and homosexuals. This made a huge impact on the music industry by indoctrinating people on the idea that disco sucks. The reason, besides Dahl’s own apparent hatred, is unknown but theorized that it was actually the doing of higher-ups in the music industry who wished to manipulate things to their advantage. This ridiculous display unfortunately did stifle Disco and dance music for a while, but nobody can stop the heart of the city and burning a bunch of records definitely didn’t stop Disco and its evolution.
If anybody embodied the heart of Chicago most, it was Frankie Knuckles. He rescued disco music from the ashes, and he did it out of love for all people while never breaking a smile. Editing classic tracks by adding heavier electronic percussion rocked the dance floors of early House music clubs like the Warehouse, Sound Factory, and the Garage. His music was taking the old, mixing it with the future, and celebrating our time with each other in the present. He showed that blacks, latinos, whites, gay, and straight have something in common, the beats. Frankie Knuckles and his beats have spread globally and have shown the people of the world that America is a lot more diverse than the white, baseball loving image the media portrayed us as. He has brought people together and has subtlety made us more accepting of each other, without really saying a word about it. He did it all with music and did it all for you. A true master and humanitarian.
Frankie’s legacy will live on through the spread of House music but only if we guide the music correctly and use it for righteous purposes. We all know that EDM is big business these days and that variations of House music have been thrown under that umbrella. Even with the positive vibes and loving lyrics thrown into popular House- the expensive ticket prices, corporate sponsors, and lack of performance skills from the artists make it hard to believe that it’s about more than just money.
True House is still out there though, especially in Detroit and Chicago, and more people are getting into good House music everyday. I believe that Frankie Knuckles spirit and the spirit of House music are true expressions of nature and no money grabbing suits can ever touch that. With strong communities of House heads across the globe, we can preserve this genre and move it forward. Big business will not ruin House on our watch Frankie! Let’s make our Godfather proud.