Chicago Pays Tribute to Frankie Knuckles With Massive Dance Party

"Godfather of House Music" passed away in March

Thousands of Chicagoans packed Millenium Park Thursday to honor the Godfather of House Music.

The city honors Frankie Knuckles, a pioneering DJ and producer who passed away in March, at a public tribute and dance party. 

The free event began at 6 p.m. with opening words from Robert Williams and Alan King followed by nearly three hours of DJ sets by Elbert Phillips, Craig Loftis, Greg GrayMike Winston and a closing set by Mike Winston, Knuckles' original opening DJ at the Powerplant and longtime friend.

Knuckles, 59, is widely credited with helping to define the post-disco sound that came to be known as house music.

He was the musical director of pioneering South Loop nightclub The Warehouse, believed to be the birthplace of modern house music, and where Knuckles first started experimenting with mixing disco and European electronic tracks. It's also where the house music genre got its name.

Sources told NBC 5 Knuckles died in his sleep in his Chicago home and was discovered by his manager. His death has been connected to complications from Type II diabetes.

Jefferson Street between Monroe and Van Buren was renamed honorary "The Godfather of House Music" Frankie Knuckles Way in 2004.

Among his many awards and accolades, Knuckles won a 1997 Grammy for Remixer of the Year, Non-Classical.

In an April 17 letter on White House stationery and addressed to Knuckles' family and friends, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama praised Knuckles as a trailblazer.

They said his work helped open minds and bring people together by blending genres in a way that captured their attention and ignited their imaginations.

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