Vibrations: Frankie Knuckles

Crossing Cultures’ Curriculum advisors project presents:

Jason Thompson is a student studying Design for Digital Media at the University of Brighton,  his contribution pays tribute to the innovative House Music DJ Frankie Knuckles.

Originating from the Bronx Francis Nicholls started his career Djing In the New York discotheques of the 70’s going by the name Frankie Knuckles. Working alongside Legendary disco DJ Larry Levan, knuckles perfected the art of mixing, blending sounds to captivate audiences throughout the city. Knuckles however, largely lived in the shadow of his fellow DJ during the disco era, as Levan would be the main feature at events. It was not until 1977 that Knuckles moved to Chicago and gained his Legendary status throughout dance music history. Friend of Frankie Knuckles, Robert Williams started the now iconic club named the Warehouse where he invited knuckles to have a residency spot. A mixture of disco classics, indie-label soul and European synth disco Frankie Knuckles mixed everything and anything in a way that was never seen before. He laid the groundwork for electronic dance music playing hit after hit to a members-only gay black crowd. The new sound was gathering so much attention throughout Chicago that the club owner had to remove the members-only aspect as the increased popularity was attracting a more mainstream audience. What Knuckles was doing in the warehouse was ground-breaking and its in this Chicago based institution that he birthed a new genre. House music was exploding with Chicago record shops dedicating an entire section to what they referred to as “warehouse music”. This would be defined as any music played by Frankie Knuckles in the warehouse and would later be abbreviated to the term “house music”. Knuckles created a phenomenon with the sound he pioneered in Chicago and the sound eventually crossed borders having a huge influence on the UK rave scene. This outstanding contribution to music was honoured by the city where he created house music. The street where the Warehouse used to stand is now called Frankie Knuckles Way, renamed on the 25th of august 2004 a day that was deemed by the city of Chicago as Frankie Knuckles day. A decision made by the then Illinois state senator Barak Obama. Knuckles sadly passed away due to complications with Type II diabetes but his legacy lives on with Elton John setting up the Frankie Knuckles foundation focussing on music in schools, LGBTQ youth homelessness, AIDS research, the prevention & diabetes research and education. Frankie Knuckles is a true music icon and his influence can still be found in music produced today. If you are a fan of contemporary dance music, the entire Chicago and Acid House scene of the ’80s is a great decade of music to explore. Here are a few stand out songs by Frankie Knuckles: • “Your Love” (1986) • “Baby Wants to Ride” (1987) • “Tears” (1989) • “The Whistle Song” (1991)

Frankie Knuckles exceptional boiler room set from 2013:

Frankie Knuckles @ Sugar Factory club, 2012.

Jason has also made this instagram page:


Jason ‘s idea for the site is that it could be the university of Brighton’s answer to the Vice or id magazine with the editors and content creators being the staff and students:

‘I think it would be a good way of bringing departments together on a shared platform that anyone can contribute to, encouraging collaboration….graphic design and illustration could create a new Instagram icons, fashion could do a written piece on their heritage in fashion and the sound course could create a piece inspired by culturally diverse music etc. With work being featured on the blog and Instagram, I thought this was a good way of creating content and bringing awareness to the platforms. I’ve also created my first blog post as part of a series entitled “vibrations” where we can highlight key figures in the music industry outside of the mainstream canon’.

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One thought on “Vibrations: Frankie Knuckles

  1. I remember listening to Frankie Knuckles when I was a teenager and we really loved the mixtapes from the states together with Radio WBLS in New York what a time to revive this iconic legend

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