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Frankie Knuckles, legendary DJ, dies
Memorial April 21
by Matt Simonette

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House music pioneer Frankie Knuckles has passed away. He was 59.

Frederick Dunson, Knuckles' producer, confirmed that Knuckles had died on March 31, according to Chicago Tribune. Knuckles reportedly died at home and a statement was expected April 1.

The producer, who was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996, mixed work by artists such as Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode. He reportedly had been ill, missing his 59th birthday party this past January, but still maintained a busy schedule and had appearances scheduled in the United Kingdom for April.

News of Knuckles' death broke March 31 on social media. For several hours that evening, Knuckles' Twitter followers posted to his feed, asking if the rumors of his death were true. Many said they hoped it was an April Fool's Day joke.

DJ David Morales posted on Twitter at 10:11 p.m., "I am devastated to write that my dear friend Frankie Knuckles has passed away today. Can't write anymore than this at the moment. I'm sorry."

WCIU correspondent Art "Chat Daddy" Sims posted on his Facebook page March 31 that Knuckles passed away.

"My heart is so heavy right now," Sims wrote. "I just got confirmation that my extremely talented, caring & giving friend Frankie Knuckles ... [has] made his transition. My friendship with Frankie goes back many ... wonderful years. Thank you Frankie!"

Chicago house artists Paul Johnson and DJ Deeon also posted that Knuckles had died.

Born in the Bronx in 1955, Knuckles was a DJ at, among other NYC venues, the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler and Barry Manilow were among other notable performers to get their starts. In 1977, he moved to Chicago, where he was DJ at the Warehouse, then at his own club, the Power Plant, which opened in 1983.

Knuckles moved away from Chicago but returned in 2000, telling Windy City Times in 2001 that the city "is one of the places in the world I feel most natural. It feels more like home and I think the inspirational effect from here would help fuse that."

In 2004, the corner of Jefferson and Adams Streets was renamed "Honorary 'The Godfather of House Music' Frankie Knuckles Way.' Knuckles also spun music for the Opening Ceremony of Gay Games VII in Chicago in 2006.

Knuckles maintained that he tried not to buy into hype, and keep his focus on the music and his colleagues.

"Because, at the end of the day, we're just conduits," Knuckles said in 2001. "If we can put this music together well, and really entertain people and tell stories with it and make them feel good—even make them escape from whatever it is they have to deal with on a day-to-day [basis], for an eight hour period, one night a week—that's saying a whole lot. … I think the greatest reward I've gotten out of it is the kind of friendships and camaraderie I make with people all around the world."

Quote from DJ Harry T on the passing of Frankie Knuckles

"I'm very numb at receiving the news of Frankie's passing," said DJ Harry T. "He's one of my many DJ heroes that I have such respect for. The first time I met him to interview for WCT, I was nervous, as he was a celebrity in my eyes but he is far from that life. We talked as friends that have known each other for a long time. He always had great advice to share about the business and inspirational words to lift you up. One of the best times I'll remember was him closing out summer dance and it began to rain. Frankie kept playing as umbrellas went up, some people walked away, others danced in the rain because of the love. Always a smile on his face ... . I'm going to miss his big bear hugs when would meet. FK Always."

UPDATE Frankie Knuckles memorial April 21

A celebration of life for the legendary Chicago house music DJ Frankie Knuckles will be Monday, April 21, 6-9 p.m. at Progressive Baptist Church, 3658 S. Wentworth Ave., Chicago.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to either in the memory of Frankie to: American Diabetes Association — or Gay Men Health Crisis of NYC- .

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