Tag Archives: frankie knuckles

R.I.P. Frankie Knuckles

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Honestly, I feel like giving myself a knuckle sandwich for taking this long to pay my respects, but I gotta give it up to the late, great pioneer of Chicago house, Frankie Knuckles. Born Francis Nicholls in the Bronx, Knuckles first began DJ’ing in the 70’s alongside the legendary Larry Levan at the notoriously gay Continental Baths in New York City. The hybrid disco-bathhouse featured top notch entertainers and Frankie was no exception. Being at the right place at the right time certainly helped to cement his reputation as a pioneer in dance music. Arguably, disco helped to lay the foundation for house and Frankie was fortunate to be there live and direct, soaking up the sizzling influences of that era. After moving to Chicago in 1977, he began spinning at The Warehouse where he developed the style of music that has come to be known as “house.” His open-minded approach led him to experiment with combining elements of R&B with synths and a drum-machine to develop this rebelliously scintillating genre. It must have been exciting to be on the cutting edge of a new frontier as Frankie was at that time, along with fellow pioneers like Derrick May and Ron Hardy.

After his Chicago club, Power Plant, closed in 1987, Frankie headed off to the U.K. to play a residence at infamous house of rave, Delirium. Are you beginning to see a pattern emerging here? This man was definitely chosen to accomplish great things in the music world. I would give anything to be a fly on the wall witnessing the “Second Summer of Love” unfold, but Frankie was right up there in the mix. Respect.

Knuckles first grabbed my attention with “The Whistle Song” back in the 90’s. That track got heavy rotation and helped put him out into the mainstream. Frankie reached new heights in his career when he earned a 1997 Grammy award for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical. A slew of remixes for noteworthy artists followed: Lisa Stansfield, Diana Ross, Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson, to name a few. And then, one of the greatest forms of recognition any artist could receive; a street renamed in his honour, “Frankie Knuckles Way” by the city of Chicago. To put further icing on the cake, August 25th 2004 was declared “Frankie Knuckles Day” by none other than Illinois senator, Barack Obama. It’s comforting to know that this openly gay, Afro-American DJ has received such tremendous respect and recognition for his abilities as opposed to his sexual orientation. A great blessing indeed, and a true testament to his hard-working, positive attitude and joyful approach to life.

Sadly, Frankie left us on March 31st, 2014 due to complications from Type II diabetes. Apparently he’d developed the condition after a skiing accident in which he’d fractured the metatarsals in his foot. He eventually ended up losing the leg, but still soldiered on like a true warrior. If anything, we should be happy for him. It might seem that he passed away prematurely, but I think he lived a full life, accomplishing so many wonderful feats and leaving musical treats to tantalize headz for generations to come. This raises the issue that we all have to face at some point: our own mortality. Most of electronic music’s pioneers are at advanced stages in their lives, and they will all leave in the coming decades. Once they’re gone, it will be interesting to see how EDM will continue to evolve. Will that soulful quality born from the early days still be present? Times change, people change and of course, the music will change. As long as there’s electricity, there will always be EDM. It is, however, important to note that consciousness affects sound, so the level of integrity is reliant upon where the majority focus their thoughts, for better or for worse.

Normally I don’t mess with politics, but kudos to The Obamas for remembering Frankie Knuckles in this letter from The White House:

ObamaFrankie
‘Nuff said!
Peace out, my fellow Ecstaticans. Take a moment to listen to “Your Love,” undoubtedly one of the greatest house tracks of all time has a smooth, chilled out ambience that is truly timeless.

Copyright © 2014 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

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The Incomparable Miss Honey Dijon

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AFRICAN HISTORY’S DJ OF THE WEEK – MISS HONEY DIJON

 

Honey Dijon

In the predominantly male world of disc jockeys, Miss Honey Dijon is a striking anomaly. During the 90’s rave scene, only a handful of female DJ’s were making the rounds and I most certainly never saw any black women behind the decks. So Miss Dijon is a happy compromise. She is the first black, transgendered DJ I know of that has gained prominence and respect for her abilities on the decks. Rumour has it that she is one of Derrick Carter’s favourites. And that’s no small accomplishment. Arguably, it could be said that as a transgendered artist, Miss Dijon would not have achieved the same degree of success in the commercial arena as she did within rave culture. Which just goes to show how this underground movement embraces diversity of all shades and genders.

So what motivated this flamboyant Chicago native to join dance culture resistance? Great music of course. Classic pioneers of house such as Frankie Knuckles, Mark Farina and Ron Hardy captured Miss Dijon’s discerning ear during her youth. In the 1990’s, she moved to New York where she befriended Danny Tenaglia, who encouraged her to become a DJ and the rest, as they say, is history. Miss Dijon has blazed a scintillating career path across the globe; from spinning at raves to entertaining prominent fashion noteworthies at events hosted by couture giants Hermes, Visionaire and Givenchy. Dijon also spiced things up at legendary venues such as London’s Ministry of Sound and Pacha in Ibiza. Her style can best be described as an eclectic mix of house, electro, tech-house, tribal, funk and disco. She cleverly adapts her set according to the vibe transmitted from her audience. Part psychic intuition, part osmosis, the end result is always the same – fantastic! My fondest memory of  Honey Dijon was when she rocked the I-Dance rally  at Nathan Phillips Square back in 2000. Her set injected a glimmer of hope on a bittersweet night as thousands of ravers united in an attempt to preserve the legitimacy of dance culture in the face of overwhelming political opposition. 

In addition to gigs across Asia and Europe, Honey now has a weekly residency at the Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea’s lower West side. It’s amazing to see this itinerant disc jockette still in action after more than a decade of dance culture. I applaud Miss Dijon – not only for her vinyl popping skills, but for the courage to be herself in a discriminatory world and succeed despite the odds stacked against her. Respect. 

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.