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  • Steven Wilson-Beales

Remembering Frankie Knuckles

There’s been so many heart-felt tributes today to the ‘Godfather of House’ that I thought I’d add my own.

It begins in 1987 at my secondary school assembly. A kid has just blown everyone away with his mean Fender Stratocaster skills – I look around and practically every girl in my year is swooning. The penny drops: I must learn to play a musical instrument or die trying.

Problem is, learning to play an instrument can be pretty hard and not easily mastered in a weekend. I tried the guitar but after a week got frustrated and dumped it in the attic so I went with what seemed to be a better option at the time – pretending to be a drummer.

This tactic got me pretty far. I joined a band, wrote some songs, but after a couple of rehearsals it was pretty obvious to everyone in the room that I was, indeed, crap. I quietly nipped out half way through one of the sessions and never looked back.

However, I didn’t have to wait long to have my first musical ‘moment’. I’d been watching our local village disco DJ for weeks and finally plucked up courage to ask him if  I could help him out  if he could teach me how to mix. He agreed.

Things seemed to go well at first until I realised after a couple of weeks I hadn’t mixed a beat. I was spending most of my time lugging around his vinyl whilst he smoked cigarettes and copped off with the girls in my school. I should mention this guy looked suspiciously close to thirty.

Anyway, I was about to jack it all in when he let me take over one night and passed me a 12″ he’d been raving about. I just put the record on and fiddled with the box that controlled the lighting – at least it looked a bit like mixing.

Everyone stopped dancing and wondered why we weren’t playing Jason Donovan tracks any more.  I just kept fiddling and pretending to DJ. Eventually, a few people started to nod their heads and get into the groove but it was all a bit confusing.  We got about halfway through the track when the DJ took over and restored the night to its usual rhythm of Stock Aitken Waterman-tinged reverie.

Anyway, the track was ‘Your Love’ and I absolutely fell in love with it. It started a long love affair with House music leading to several poorly-named electronic bands and a four year stint at Ministry of Sound. The track even inspired me to learn a musical instrument – well anything that could be triggered rather than played.

Frankie, can’t thank you enough – I owe a lot to you and and you’ll be sorely missed.


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