There are musical innovators and then there’s Frankie Knuckles. The Bronx, New York born DJ/producer turned Chicago-based dance visionary, who is widely recognized as the architect of house music, died Monday afternoon at the age of 59. And with his untimely passing comes a flood of tributes from the U.S. (The Roots frontman tweeted of Knuckles’ death, “He was the DJ that DJs aspired to be. True dance pioneer.”) to overseas (BBC Radio 2’s Pete Tong added: “RIP gentleman genius, groundbreaker, inspiration. Blessed to have worked with you…”). And while Knuckles trumped his cult hero status as the man that made Windy City dance venues the Warehouse and the Power Plant landmark attractions in the ’80s—by the next decade he reigned as the go-to remix king for the headlining likes of Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson and Depeche Mode—his death is being felt the hardest back home.
“He made what I call wonderful garage music,” Southside Chicago native and local DJ Demetrius Lawrence tells VIBE. “He is one of the most original DJs that we’ve ever heard bringing in the establishment of house culture on multi-levels from music to fashion to philosophy. Frankie’s death is a huge loss.” Indeed, his impact on the EDM world and beyond cannot be overstated. VIBE presents the ten greatest Frankie Knuckles tracks of all-time. Dance on!