April 23, 2014


Frankie Knuckles went out like the superstar that he was, with memorials in both NYC and Chicago. Last night at the Liberty Theatre, Danny KrivitUltra NatéBarbara TuckerZhana RoiyaTedd PattersonDavid DePinoSheba LegendMark RivasBill Coleman, Benny Soto, Christina Visca, Hex Hector, Freddie Turner, Father Chris, Kenny Dope Gonzalez, Eric Kupper, Kevin Williams, Dawn Tallman, Francois Kevorkian, Sandee B, Duane Harden and of course, the remaining Def Mix family of David Morales, Judy Weinstein and Satoshie Tomie gathered to pay their final respects. Anthony Lamont provided some levity dressed as a nurse and handing out tissues, as I'm told they do in some churches. Robert Owens gave an emotional performance of So Many Tears and Ann Nesby brought the house down in exceptionally fine voice when she closed with The Pressure. I am not exaggerating to say that I was deeply honored and humbled to even be in the same room with all of that talent. As many attested to in testimonials, Frankie had a warmth that touched so many even off the dance floor. 

I'll never forget being asked to host one of his parties in Chicago--I was beyond flattered. Honey, there was no RuPaul or Dame Edna--I was the queen of the world that night! Many mentioned Frankie's mega-kilowatt smile, while promoter Scott Scotto Osman remembered his big teddy bear hugs. One friend mentioned that Frankie was a great dancer as well as dj.Jeannie Hopper told me that she had a very early photo of Frankie in drag! And he had been working the clubs since the mid-70s. A lot of the religious stuff was lost on me since I'm a heathen, but I do believe in finding your calling--whether it's heaven sent or not. Frankie found his and as a result, he brought joy and top notch music to so many all over the world. One high school buddy remarked that Frankie was his first gay friend--and noted that was a big deal in 1977. Another praised Frankie for bringing straight, gay, and every race, creed and color who loved to dance together. 

At a time when djs have become jukeboxes for those with unsophisticated musical tastes--one club recently told me that they insist on radio edits of top 40 songs and that's what they tell their djs--Frankie was an artist who did things his way. Not a hack who played something because it was popular. House music BECAME popular because his excellent taste and ability to loop, extend, mix and produce. Sometimes, you need to trust the experts to turn you on to audio masterpieces and put your tacky desire to cavort to Britney or Rihanna's latest mass-produced formulaic jam on hold. Eric Kupper, Frankie's longtime keyboardist said that Frankie wasn't having a lot of dance music today and they made a pact to do their best to keep excellent music alive. Like Skrillex--KIDDING! And I loved Melonie Daniel's acknowledgement that Frankie loved the vocalists as much as the beats. "Because without a singer, a song is just an instrumental." The Whistle Song, Frankie's biggest hit, was actually an instrumental. But in this day and age of EDM, where the choruses are instrumental and forget about a bridge, great songs and vocalists of house music's golden age are sorely missed. Hell, I'd even settle for an instrumental with some real instruments in it! If you were lucky enough to experience Frankie's music--don't ever forget it. Keep his magic alive!