Exclusive interview posted the 16-07-04 Read more
Think about this for a second. The year I was born, 1972, Frankie "Godfather of House" Knuckles started his first DJ residency. It took place at New York's Continental Baths, a mini-village/hotel that served as a haven for gays to escape to, long before disco and house were on the club circuit.
"The first time I went there," Knuckles recalls, "I don't think I left for two weeks. That's what kind of place it was. You could go and live there, eat there, shop there, whatever, for as long as you wanted.
"I played a lot of soul, funk and the Philly sound. It was good energy to dance to, even if it wasn't like the music we know today." After the Baths closed in '75, Knuckles relocated to Chicago, accepting a residency that had been offered to friend and fellow DJ, the late great Larry Levan. "People say that Larry didn't want the gig because he didn't want me to start getting the work he was getting (at the Paradise Garage). But I didn't care. It was something new and different, and proved to be an amazing experience for me, opening all kinds of doors."
Twenty years later, Knuckles is pretty much responsible for jump-starting Chicago's now-massive house scene. He would regularly fly back to New York to go to the record pools and pick up the latest tunes, and return to Chicago to packed dancefloors of students and businesspeople alike waiting to hear the newest in disco. And in return, it was Chicago that jump-started his studio career with the remix of "Let No Man Put Us Under." "I had a friend who knew the people at Salsoul Records and I basically just bugged them until they let me do it," laughs Knuckles.
After that, Knuckles found himself producing volumes of original music and remixing tracks for scores of major artists, from Diana Ross to Mary J. Blige. In 1997, Knuckles nabbed the first ever Grammy for remix artist of the year. "It's not something I ever dreamt about," he admits. "I thought it would be David Morales--I was totally caught off guard."
Today, Knuckles is the history of house personified. He knows it and he's proud of it. "I'm so lucky," he says, "because I grew up with this--a part of this music and movement--not into this."