Frankie Knuckles (born January 18, 1955, New York) is an American DJ, record producer and remix artist. He played an important role in developing house music (an electronic, disco-influenced dance music) as a Chicago DJ in the 1980s and he helped to popularize house music in the 1990s, with his work as a producer and remixer. In 2005, Knuckles was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievements as a DJ. While studying textile design at FIT in Manhattan, Knuckles began working as a DJ, playing soul, disco and R&B at The Continental Baths with fellow DJ Larry Levan. When he became better known, he DJed at the club Better Days. When the Warehouse club opened in Chicago in 1977, he was invited to play on a regular basis. He continued DJing there until 1982, when he started his own club, The Power Plant.
It is possible that the term 'house music' surfaced in reference to the sounds played at the Warehouse by Knuckles. Initially it was a catch-all term to describe the wide range of music being played at the Warehouse. It soon became the word used to define the raw, drum machine based edits and tracks that Knuckles was playing in the early 1980s. Knuckles bought his first drum machine from a young Derrick May who, regularly made the trip from Detroit to see Knuckles at the Warehouse, and Ron Hardy at the Music Box.
Knuckles also had a musical partnership with Jamie Principle, and helped put "Your Love" and "Baby Wants to Ride" out on vinyl after these tunes had been regulars on his reel-to-reel player at the Warehouse for a year.
As house music gained momentum, pioneering producer Chip E. took Knuckles under his tutelage and produced Knuckle's first recording, "You Can't Hide", featuring vocalist Ricky Dillard. Then came more production work, including Jamie Principle's "Baby Wants to Ride", and later "Tears" with Robert Owens (of Fingers, Inc.) and (Knuckles' protege and future Def Mix associate) Satoshi Tomiie.
Knuckles left the Warehouse to start his own club, The Power Plant, in 1983. When the Power Plant closed in 1987, he DJed for 4 months at Delirium in the UK before moving to New York. He was the featured resident DJ at The World, and also had numerous subsequent residencies, including at The Choice club.
In New York, he immersed himself in producing, remixing and recording.