The summer of 1982, the last season of DJ Frankie Knuckles’s residency at the Warehouse club at 206 South Jefferson Street, was the tipping point for my pursuit of becoming an experiential DJ. Prior to visiting Chicago's legendary Warehouse, my mix style—like that of many other local DJs—had been influenced primarily by the Chicago radio mixes of WBMX’s Hot Mix 5 and the mobile DJs delighting the “punk-out” crowds at Sauers, The Loft, Mendel Bi-Level and more.
It was Frankie Knuckles, with his ability to ride the rhythms of multiple vocal and instrumental tracks to create ultra-elevating dance floor experiences, that inspired me and so many more DJs to move dance floor crowds into frenetically memorable and spiritual parties. It wasn’t just his style of mixing that made Frankie Knuckles a trailblazer; it was his careful, venerable selection of songs that enabled him to paint unforgettable aural landscapes.
In his career, there were numerous artists, songs and tracks that he leveraged to tell moving stories on the dance floor. Songs like these, my personal top 10:
- Frankie Knuckles Pres. Director’s Cut Feat. Jamie Principle, “Your Love”
- The Sounds of Blackness, “The Pressure”
- Dinosaur ‘L’, “Go Bang”
- Skatt Bros., “Walk the Night”
- Frankie Knuckles Presents Satoshi Tomiie, “Tears”
- Willie Colon, “Set Fire to Me”
- Robert Owens, “I’ll Be Your Friend” (Def Mix)
- Klein & MBO, “Wonderful”
- David Joseph, “You Can’t Hide”
- Frankie Knuckles, “The Whistle Song”
Which songs (deejayed, remixed or produced) do you feel were among Frankie Knuckles's most enduring? Comment below!