Arts, Culture & Media

DJ remembers the 'Godfather of House' music


Frankie Knuckles performs during his DJ set at the Sonar festival in Barcelona June 21, 2008. Knuckles passed away Monday at the age of 59.


Gustau Nacarino/Reuters

Chances are you've heard house music without ever realizing it. 

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Frankie Knuckles founded the genre of music known as “house.” It’s a reference to his first venue for his unique fusion of sounds, created in the 1980s at a Chicago spot known as “The Warehouse.”

Knuckles passed away Monday night at the age of 59. He leaves behind a long legacy of sounds and a whole lot of friends and admirers. DJs and celebrities have been paying their respects on Twitter.

House music has a distinct sound — sampling various tracks and sounds in a way that's unlike any other. “They would often play stuff that was white-labelled or unavailable,” says DJ Rekha, a music producer in New York. She hosts Basement Bhangra, an electrodance music (EDM) party with a Bollywood flare, once a month.

And that distinctive sound became quite popular.

“When people started asking for that style of music, they kept saying ‘give me that house music’ referring to Warehouse,” Rekha says. "He’s actually responsible for the naming of the genre."

She has fond memories of Knuckles, and a style that drew her in. “He was definitely in my first crate of records for sure," she says. "There’s just a lot of energy and soul in the track."

Like DJ’s around the world, Rekha has been paying her respects and revisiting Knuckles’ music all day. “The song ‘Move your body’ is just a seminal house classic, and I’ve had it on repeat all morning.”

Most of Rekha’s tracks are now a fusion of Bhangra and EDM, but her music is a descendant of the legacy Knuckles leaves behind. 

She says that Knuckles had a gift for being present. “You feel like the DJ is actually doing something and working and giving you a unique experience as opposed to just playing tracks,” she adds.