Bronx-born Frankie Knuckles, “the Godfather of House” music, has died in Chicago, according to media reports.
Knuckles, who lost a foot to diabetes in 2008, “died unexpectedly” Monday at the age of 59, his longtime business partner Frederick Dunson told the Chicago Tribune.
Born Francis Nicholls, Knuckles got his start spinning with DJ Larry Levan in Manhattan’s Continental Baths, and moved to Chicago in the late 1970s, turning soul and R&B records into dance tracks with drum machines and novel mixing techniques at the The Warehouse, and, later, in his own club, “The Power Plant.”
Knuckles, who reworked the tracks of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Toni Braxton, and became a noted music producer, won the first Grammy given as non-classical “remixer of the year” in 1997. In addition to transforming disco, Knuckles is also credited with laying the sonic groundwork for the trance and electronic music popular at raves.
Tributes poured into Knuckles on social media. “he was the dj that dj’s aspired to be. true dance pioneer,” tweeted Questlove Jenkins.