"Disco's revenge," was the way Frankie Knuckles, who has died aged 59 after a long period of ill health, mischievously described house, the style of music that was born in his club, the Warehouse in Chicago. The raw, machine-driven, four-to-the-floor kickdrum sound that Knuckles helped conceive went on to become one of the dominant forces in popular music over the next 30 years, upping the energy in dance clubs and earning him the tag Godfather of House. One of the most sought-after remixers in club music, he worked with scores of stars, including Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross, found a fan in Barack Obama and gave his name to a Chicago street.
Raised in the Bronx, New York, he grew up surrounded by music; Luther Vandross lived down the road. As a gay man, Knuckles was one of the early beneficiaries of a rapidly changing society and the nascent disco scene was a primary driver of those changes. His entry into the music industry began as a teenager when he and Larry Levan, his childhood friend and fellow DJ, worked for Nicky Siano at the Gallery in Manhattan, blowing up balloons and assisting Siano. His first DJ break was at Tee Scott's Better Days on West 49th Street, but he also did the lights and filled in for Levan at the Continental Baths.