Artist, Producer, Journalist Television & Radio Personality

FRANKIE KNUCKLES: The Godfather of House Brought Us Soul…and That Smile!

April 07, 2014

I had the honor of spending the day with Frankie Knuckles during the taping of my music travel show “Signature Sounds with Allison Hagendorf”, in which I traveled to the country’s biggest music cities and explored each one’s sonic stamp. Ofcourse when we knew Chicago was going to be one of our stops, our mission was to lock in the man who revolutionized club culture, Mr. Frankie Knuckles. Prior to meeting him,  I  was fully aware of Frankie’s impact on dance music. I knew that he had actually gotten his start as a fellow New Yorker, playing soul and funk records at the Continental Baths. I knew the backstory of how he moved to Chicago in the late 70s to become resident at the Warehouse club, which is how the genre got both its name and its soul.  Frankie was a musical pioneer, blending formerly separate styles into a symphonic amalgamation of soul, gospel, R&B, rock, and British new wave and synth pop using his signature vocals, baselines, and beats. His trailblazing tracks traveled quickly and in the 80s, Frankie became the first dance music superstar DJ.

What sets Frankie Knuckles apart from the current EDM world is that for Frankie, it wasn’t about his image, persona, or alter ego that is so ubiquitous in today’s often self-serving DJ world. For Frankie, it was all about the music, the dance floor, and the people. It was never about him. And ironically, that is why Frankie is the biggest star of all.

He may be known as the Godfather of House, but to those who knew him, he was equally known for his one-of-a-kind smile. I am telling you, that man’s energy was electric.  I will never forget how he greeted me and how that smile of his instantly made me smile, ingraining itself in my mind.  His passion was palpable. His loving heart worn on his sleeve. I recall hanging on to every syllable that he shared with me.  I was grateful to be spending the afternoon with this music legend, but I was just as grateful to be spending the day which such a special soul.  Frankie Knuckles was just one of those people that could blanket you with his warmth.

I will always respect Frankie Knuckles for his sonic stamp, but I will always remember him for his smile. RIP Frankie. You are a gem.