Frankie Knuckles: Tears are not enough – a tribute by Bernie Connor


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Liverpool DJ Bernie Connor leads a personal tribute to Frankie Knuckles – the Godfather of House music.

The news has reached this city that Frankie Knuckles has died aged 59.
That in itself would be a tragic loss, but for me what made it worse was BBC 6Music‘s complete and utter failure to acknowledge his passing in any capacity hours after it had been ‘all over the internet‘.
Frankie Knuckles was born in New York in 1955. In the early 70s he became a main figure at the Continental Baths, a popular gay bath-house based on the glory of ancient Rome.
Later in the decade he decamped to Chicago where through his long residency at the Warehouse he came to define the new strain of dance music that would ultimately take the name of the club. ‘HOUSE MUSIC ALL NIGHT LONG’.
The story has been told so many times with slight variations every time. Yet the journey that house music took from the Music Box in Chicago to the ecstasy fuelled event in your village hall a couple of years later, was partly attributable to Frankie and his true revolutionary spirit.
If he had only made the show-stopping Your Love, his credentials would have been exemplary. But, his output was phenomenal; as part of David MoralesDef Productions he took house music to new, commercially led territory, a path that caused divisions and schisms among the devotees of the genre.
While the less pioneering sounds of the 90s may have not been everybody’s cup of e, he was nonetheless giving the genre a life and legs to take it beyond the sometimes parochial parameters of what could be done beyond Manchester, London and Chicago.
Frankie Knuckles is without doubt one of the most influential characters in music in the last 30 years.
His work – whether you like it or not – can be heard in all strands of modern music, from the latest upfront dance action to the nu-electronic chart action of this week, Frankie Knuckles‘ fingerprints are all over it.
It’s telling that the industry still perceives ‘dance’ music as some sort of niche market that fills a void in the industry not covered by other popular music. The point I make about 6Music is this; if someone totally insignificant to the history of music, say, the singer out of Keane had died, it would be on every news bulletin all day – from dawn to dusk.
With that in mind, Frankie remained a true underground artist, yet one of the figures that crafted modern music like no other – whether he realised it or not.
A minutes silence on dancefloors all over the world should be observed to mark his passing.
He really was a colossus of the modern music world and his demise should not be just recognised by the fortunate few.
A global memorial should follow in his wake, to a generation of music fans – he is as influential as The Beatles and certainly more important than Britpop and its dumb-ass kids.

Bernie Connor hosts The Sound Of Music podcast – listen here.
Further reading on Getintothis:
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Bob Dylan, Run DMC and the moral dilemma of selling out to advertising
Lou Reed: The man, the myth and Metal Machine Music.
Phil Everly: Why worry now? The Everly Brothers and their timeless legacy.
Getintothis on the music battle for our soul – are you in or out of the box?
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