CHICAGO — Legendary house music DJ Frankie Knuckles died unexpectedly at his home Monday afternoon at the age of 59, according to the Tribune.
His death was confirmed by his business partner, Frederick Dunson, who said more details would be available Tuesday, the paper said. The 59-year-old DJ was still known to spin and was scheduled to perform at London's Ministry of Sound last Saturday.
Knuckles is widely accepted as "The Godfather of House Music," dance music popularized in Chicago during the '70s and '80s and a precursor of today's electronic dance music. When Knuckles moved from New York to Chicago he became famous for playing marathon sets at Chicago clubs The Warehouse and the Power Plant during the late '70s and early '80s.
Before Knuckles knew it, other city clubs were playing music they called "house" after hearing it at the club, Knuckles said in "Unconscious Therapy" a documentary exploring the genre that premiered last April. Knuckles also won the 1997 Grammy for remixer of the year, non-classical.
“Today, Chicago says goodbye to one of its most treasured cultural pioneers," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement Tuesday morning. "Over his long career, Frankie made his way into the ranks of those artists and innovators who came to this city not just to contribute to a musical genre, but to create one themselves. In doing so, he also made his way into the hearts of those who knew him and the many more who followed his work."
On Aug. 25, 2004, the City of Chicago renamed a stretch of Jefferson Street near where the Warehouse stood "Frankie Knuckles Way" with the help of then Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama. The day was also renamed Frankie Knuckles Day.
"While the stretch of Jefferson Street between Monroe and Van Buren is officially known as “Frankie Knuckles Way,” all those who are part of the house music genre, no matter where they are from, walk along the path Frankie created," Emanuel said.
MN2S, a booking agency responsible for booking Knuckles, expressed shock and sadness at the news of Knuckles' death.
"Frankie was not only a legendary producer and DJ, one of the true innovators of our movement, but also one of the nicest guys you could meet and a pleasure to work and spend time with. Frankie was an incredibly talented man who brought joy to millions of people and many special moments on dance floors throughout the world. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans around the world," the agency said on its website.