Frankie Knuckles - "The Whistle Song"
In June we will be featuring all LGBTQ+ artists in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month
Although EDM has become the dominant genre of mainstream pop, the lack of historical perspective held by the notoriously white and straight fist-bumping fans of the style is often apparent. House music’s popularization (traveling a tortuous route from underground, inner-city warehouse parties to the 1990s rave scene to Jersey Shore to the stages of Coachella) has had some significant cultural consequences, one of which is the erasure of the queer, black origins of the music. With that in mind, it’s hard to underestimate Frankie Knuckles’ influence on our contemporary sonic landscape. Transforming the tropes of disco into a futuristic sounding, lifelong thesis on love and desire, Knuckles’ music – equal parts sultry, political, licentious, and earnest – is so widely beloved that his death in 2014 prompted personal letters to close friends from President Obama. With the city of Chicago serving as the setting of his immaculately produced tracks, the spirit of the “Godfather of House” lives on in the thumping, seductive sounds providing the backdrop for a new generation of escapist party goers. Eric Shorey
Knuckles made numerous popular Def Classic Mixes with John Poppo as sound engineer, and Knuckles partnered with David Morales on Def Mix Productions. His debut album Beyond the Mix (1991), released on Virgin Records, contained what would be considered his seminal work, "The Whistle Song", which was the first of four number ones on the US dance chart. The Def Classic mix of Lisa Stansfield's "Change", released in the same year, also featured the whistle-like motif. Another track from the album, "Rain Falls", featured vocals from Lisa Michaelis. Eight thousand copies of the album had sold by 2004. Other key remixes from this time include his rework of the Electribe 101 anthem "Talking with Myself" and Alison Limerick's "Where Love Lives".
When Junior Vasquez took a sabbatical from The Sound Factory in Manhattan, Knuckles took over and launched a successful run as resident DJ. He continued to work as a remixer through the 1990s and into the next decade, reworking tracks from Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Eternal and Toni Braxton. He released several new singles, including "Keep on Movin'" and a re-issue of an earlier hit "Bac N Da Day" with Definity Records. In 1995, he released his second album titled Welcome to the Real World. By 2004, 13,000 copies had sold.
Openly gay, Knuckles was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996.
So today, whistling while I work, I choose Frankie Knuckles’ "The Whistle Song" as my, break the mold, shake the derby, crack the skies, song for a, magic in the music, it’s all around us now, be the light you need, Friday.