Google+ Beathearts: Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014) - Top 5 FK moments


Frankie Knuckles (1955-2014) - Top 5 FK moments

"It left me with a warm feeling that made me start listening to music" (F.Knuckles 1989)

This morning we got the sad news that another legend of soulful underground music has left us. Frankie Knuckles was one of the first artists that got us into house music so we thought it was appropriate to put down a few of our favourite Knuckles moment to honor his musical deed.


1.Morgana King - Like a seed (1973)
I remember reading an interview with the man from the late 80s. He told a story from the time he was about 8 years old and his older sister was playing records from Morgana King, Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto all day long. He said that hearing those Morgana King tunes in the house back in 1963 "left me with a warm feeling that made me start listening to music".

To me, hearing those early Frankie Knuckles tunes in the late 80s had a similar effect. My world had just been turned upside down by Erik B & Rakim and NWA's first records and along came these obscure, hard but yet soulful tunes from a genre named after a strange warehouse in Chicago. That changed my perception of music and opened my mind to all genres of music. And for that that I'm deeply grateful. Rest in peace big guy.


2.Frankie Knuckles - It's hard sometimes (1991)
This is probably all time my favourite Knuckles tune. It still baffles me that this record never got more attention. Uplifting message, great gospel influenced songwriting, epic def mix production - all in all it had just as much potential as "Tears".

"Virgin wasn't ready for that record when it came out. To this day I'm sorry that I even gave it to them. Everybody was stammering for it in New York City, they wanted it, there was talk about it everywhere. People were trying to bootleg it or get it any way they can. We were very protective of it, didn't play it everywhere. We played it in the club, but I had to make sure that nobody was recording it or anything like that. Technology wasn't what it is now, obviously, or else somebody would've had it and it would've been on the internet before you could take your second breath. We protected it as best we could. But once it came out they didn't have enough vinyl. You couldn't find it anywhere. In New York City, the day it came out, they sold I think 500 copies in just one store. We had to call Philadelphia, we had to call LA, Miami, New Orleans, we called so many different cities to get them to ship what they had to New York City because the demand was so great for it. And it still wasn't enough. " (RBMA 2011)


3.Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie ‎– Tears (1989)
Anyone who ever claimed that house music lacked soul were stuttering for word when "Tears" came out. Again epic production lifting one of the greatest house vocalists of all time, Robert Owens. Satoshi Tomiie recently told the story of how the track came about:

"That collaboration was not an easy one. I think Frankie just moved back to New York from Chicago and I was a university student, I lived in Tokyo. Between the two of us, there was no Internet, not even a computer, nothing! We never were really in the studio together, until we recorded the vocal of Robert Owens for ‘Tears’. The instrumental part I did everything in Tokyo. I was sitting in my bedroom at my parent’s house. I wrote all the track there. There was no hard drive so I had to record it on tape, on a two-inches tape. Then I had to fly to New York to bring this demo to Frankie, because I wanted to play it for him. Back then, my English skills were horrible, so it was not the easiest collaboration ever (laughs). Then as Frankie liked it, I asked if we could cut the vocal of Robert Owens into it, because I was a big fan of his style and his voice on Larry Heard’s production. Nothing was easy, but it was not a bad start for sure! And obviously I was just making track to make music, not to make history." (The Standard Culture 2012).


4. Alison Limerick - Where love lives (1990)
The Def Mix founders dominated the remix scene in the early 90s and this tune is probably the best work Frankie and Dave Morales ever did together. It's featured on the rare double 12" RCA Bootcamp Bootlegger (1994). Not sure why but it's marked as the "Classic mix" on the cover but most definitely a special edit. Anyway, another one of Frankie's soulful tunes that lifts me up and makes me feel a little better. Every time.


5.The Night Writers - Let the music use you (1987)
With the rise of the jungle scene in the UK, that later transformed into drum'n'bass, one of the tunes that stood out was SL2 "DJ's take control" (1991). We were all blown away by the blend of influences and samples coming from all over the place. It wasn't until a few years later I discovered where SL2 had taken those epic strings and piano hook from. And when I heard "Let the music use you" and learned that Knuckels was behind the track it all made sense and the circle was complete.


August 26th 2004, president to be, Barack Obama christened the Chicago street where the legendary Warehouse once stood, Frankie Knuckles Way. It was almost 30 years since Frankie had put his first record on in that famous nightclub:

"It’s only a few blocks away from where I live. One of my favorite restaurants to have breakfast sits on the corner of the street I live on and Frankie Knuckles Way.  

I’m quite proud of this accomplishment. It was definitely one of the highlights of my career. To be thought of enough by the people of this city and, to have it presented to me by, at the time, State Senator and now The 44th President of The United States, Barrack Obama, I am extremely proud of this accomplishment.  

It’s something I share with every house music DJ in the world." (

Frankie Knuckles left us yesterday at the age of 59. For more insight into his musical heritage head over to this great Red Bull Music Academy session transcript from 2011:

Frankie Knuckles interview session @ RBMA Madrid 2011

Street sign on Frankie Knuckles Way in downtown Chicago

Obama & Frankie

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