By John HoodIIt’s not every day the President of the United States issues a statement praising a DJ, nor that the tribute comes coincident with sentiments from Sir Elton John. Then again, it’s not every day the world loses a legend like Frankie Knuckles.
It’s not every night either, not every night that feels like one of those first night of the rest of your life kinda nights – but Frankie Knuckles helped make that feeling last for well over three decades.
If precedence and praise is any indication, that night’s still young too.
Frankie Knuckles was the master behind the beautiful racket known to the world as house, and what he birthed in the deep dark Chicago night not only continues to affect us now, it’ll continue on for as long as there’s such a thing as nightclubs.
That is why in 2004 then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama (along with the Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley) renamed a strip of street near the legend’s Chi-Town Warehouse and declared August 25th Frankie Knuckles Day, and it’s why the Rocket Man decided to found a fund in Frankie Knuckles’ name.
ADANAI spoke to Superstar DJ David Morales about his longtime friend and fellow Def Mix master’s legacy. Here’s what he had to say:
ADANAI: For the few who might not know, how truly important was Frankie Knuckles to the way the world dances?
DAVID MORALES: Frankie Knuckles is one of the pioneers responsible for what our dance culture is today. His sets were legendary. His music spoke volumes. His energy was EPIC. Frankie never changed his style. Some people get confused and change with whatever is the trend. Not Frankie. You always knew what you was going to get. Frankie was always Frankie.
Were you on hand in Chicago when then State Senator Obama christened a stretch of Jefferson Street “Frankie Knuckles Way”?
No, I wasn’t. But I was very happy for him.
How’d you two first meet anyway?
We met at our office in New York through our manager Judy Weinstein when Frankie came back to NY to play. I was in awe of the man. We became friends instantly, to the point of creating Def Mix.
What led to the creation of Def Mix?
I was starting to do mixes under the name Def Mix Productions in 1987 and when Frankie came to NY and asked Judy to manage him it just happened. There was no plan. It just happened organically.
If pressed, what are your Top 5 Def Mix productions?
1. “Where Love Lives” – Alison Limerick
2. “Finally” – Ce Ce Peniston
3. “Space Cowboy” – Jamiroquia
4. “I’ll Be Your Friend” – Robert Owens
5. “Needin’ U” – The Face
How ‘bout your Top 5 non-Def Mix Knuckles productions/remixes?
1. “I Feel Love” – Donna Summer
2. “It’s Alright” – Nuyorican Soul
3. “Free” – Ultra Nate
4. “Knights of the Jaguar” – Aztec
5. “French Kiss” – Lil Louis
Might the world be blessed with more Knuckles productions in the days, weeks or months to come?
Yes, there will be some new, finished remixes coming. Frankie was very busy and on a roll.
While we’re asking, could you please tell us when we might get some more Morales?
I am very busy in the studio and touring. You can check me out on Facebook for all my updates. I have a new Red Zone EP coming out and a new track with Ultra Nate. I’m also working on a Frankie Knuckles tribute.
That brings us to Vagabond, which just closed its doors, reportedly for good. To what extent did the club affect you and Frankie?
It’s really sad to see a club like Vagabond close since it’s one of the few venues that was all about the music and not table service. It was our home in Miami.