Frankie Knuckles has died, aged 59, from complications with diabetes. He played in London last Saturday (29 March) at the Ministry of Sound and had summer festival dates lined up.Embed from Getty Images
The DJ and remixer, who emerged from the warehouse club scene of the 1980s, is credited with creating the sparse disco-driven electronic house beat; the sound that has dominated clubland for the past 25 years. Chicago, the spiritual home of house music, has both a street and a day named in his honour.
Knuckles remixed pop giants from Michael and Janet Jackson to Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan and the Pet Shop Boys. But it is his own track, Your Love, which formed the dancefloor blueprint. Here are five versions you need in your life.
“I can’t let go” – The original is the double helix in the DNA of house music, penned by Knuckles and fellow Chicago producer Jamie Principle. It first appeared on a demo in 1984. Twenty years later it was used on the soundtrack to cult video game Grand Theft Auto.
The rave favourite
“Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air” – Probably the version most dance fans call home, The Source brought together Candi Staton’s gutsy vocal from 1986’s disco track You Got the Love, with the deep and dirty bassline of Knuckles’ original. This is the track DJs never get bored of playing – and no human with a pulse can ignore. A later remix, by New Voyager, soundtracked Sex and the City and is used by Sky Sports on its football coverage.
The excellent cover
“Every once in a while I say Lord I can’t go on” – In 2008 Florence and the Machine picked up the baton marked “epic” right where Candi dropped it, bringing You Got the Love, and Your Love, to a new generation. The track, originally released as a B-side, went on to soundtrack 2009 and proved once again that dance and rock music share the same lungs.
The punk pub version
St Albans indie band Friendly Fires took the Knuckles knobs and turned them to the max back in 2006. It was a speed-fuelled riot driven by the DNA of the original bassline.
The psychedelic wig-out
Psych-folk rockers Animal Collective nicked the electronic cell structure of Your Love to underpin 2009’s My Girls, from the album Merriweather Post Pavilion. In doing so they joined the sprawling family of Frankie Knuckles across rock, pop and dance music. We can’t let go.