Thursday, May 24, 2007

You're the sun and the sky and the blue that runs through it

If there is one name that can be associated with the start of house music as we know it, then that would be Frankie Knuckles. Born in South Bronx, New York in 1955, Frankie grew up listening to the jazz music his sister used to play. In school, he studied costume design and commercial art, but that wouldn't be the career path that he would follow. Instead, in 1971, he was offered a job by (the late) legendary DJ Tee Scott who was the resident DJ at Better Days, a club in New York. and every monday and tuesday night, Frankie got to take control of the dance floor from the DJ booth. Having been a long time childhood friend of the also legendary DJ Larry Levan, they first worked together back in 1972 at a club called "The Gallery" in upstate new york. A year later, Frankie joined Larry as the alternate DJ at "Continental Baths". When Larry Left in 1974 to open his own club, the prototype for "Paradise Garage", well Frankie took over as the head DJ at Continental Baths until its end in 1976.

In 1976, while Larry was involved in setting up "the Garage", he was approached by a group of investors and asked to become the resident DJ of a new club they were opening up in Chicago. Larry didn't want to leave, and since "the Baths" had just shut down, Frankie was asked to make the move to Chicago and become the resident DJ of the legendary club "The Warehouse". You have to remember that back then they were only calling it house music in Chicago, the word used to denote something that was "cool, hip, fresh, or bad". And the Warehouse was the place to be for many years. Designed to hold only about 600 people, but on any given night, nearly 2000 people would cram themselves into this 3 story factory building to hear the magic of Frankie Knuckles. The crowd was mostly gay and nearly all black, but one thing that bound this group of people together was their love for house music.

Frankie continued to reel in the masses for years until the Warehouse finally closed in 1982 at which time Frankie opened up his own club just a few miles up the road called "The Power Plant". By this time, house music was in full swing in Chicago so it was deemed to be the birthplace of a genre of music that continues to draw the masses on a regular basis. The whole genre of house music can be traced back to Frankie Knuckles and his influence on the city.....hence the term "house music".

Years later, Frankie would take to production in the studio and churn out such classics as "The Whistle Song" which even today can be heard by many a DJ. He has remixed songs by Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross, and even Michael Jackson. In fact, his remixography contains more than 200 tracks, so many that even Frankie cannot even remember them all. In 1997, he was the first DJ turned producer to receive a Grammy Award for his mixing skills. He has released several compilations and makes guest DJ appearances at clubs across the world. He is highly respected by his peers and the music industry.

If you are in town this weekend, make sure you go hear Frankie, as he is part of Liquified's lineup at WetBar on Saturday night. It should be a very interesting and mixed crowd, which means it will be people there to hear some really great music.

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