With Chicago house producer Frankie Knuckles’ passing, I am fondly forced to think back to the days when I discovered house music. My very strict and rigid life (I grew up in a single parent home led by an evangelical christian) was forever transformed.
My first introduction to this game-changing music was made via an older female neighbor (I was in middle school at the time), who had recently moved to Florida from the north east with a treasure trove of this music on cassette tapes; hours of house music, mixed live on radio shows hosted by DJ Bad Boy Bill on WBMX Chicago, Juan Atkins at The Red Zone, and other DJ’s she personally knew in New York City. I had never heard anything like it and was immediately hooked.
House music literally drove me on a 15 year long, worldwide quest to explore dance music scenes in cities that harbored hot spots of this culture. Luckily I grew up near one — South Beach in Miami — and soon started frequenting night clubs, outdoor raves, and the earlier years of The Winter Music Conference. I ran into and befriended DJ’s, bands, and international record label owners during my teenage years.
My quest led me to discover clubbing, a topic enlightened by the Channel 4 (UK) documentary How Clubbing Changed The World, hosted by Idris Elba — you can watch it on YouTube.
I recently posted on Facebook, “Music Saved My F#!%’ing Life”, which ellicited likes from friend from New York, Tel Aviv, Berlin, LA, and as far away as New Zealand. What evoked that post was watching videos on YouTube from bands like Deee-Lite and Tyree Cooper (both of whom I am honored to call my friends), who forever changed my experience in the world and relationship with music. I became inspired to DJ, and by the age of 24 had lived in 3 countries and traveled the world, a result I never would have imagined from something as simple and satisfying as a genuine love for music.
In sincere gratitude to the men and and women who pioneered dance music, including Frankie Knuckles, I present a playlist of songs I heard at my friends house, or watching MTV in the earlier days of this music, when the culture was still on the fringes of society or ‘underground’.
Enjoy these selections by: Frankie Knuckles, Robert Owens, Black Box, Deee-Lite, Jomanda, Joe Smooth and Ruffneck featuring Yavahan.