Knuckles was born in New York City, where he became a disco deejay in the 1970s. He moved to Chicago in the late ’70s and helped change the sound of dance music as the premiere deejay at the underground Warehouse nightclub. He is largely credited with helping to build house music – the electronic dance genre birthed in Chicago.
He opened up the dance club the Power Plant in 1983, and later traveled the U.K. to play and mix records at multiple clubs. He later formed Def Mix Productions with fellow deejay David Morales and produced mixes for pop stars, including Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
Knuckles released his first album, Beyond the Mix, in 1991 which spun the singles “Workout” and “The Whistle Song.” He won a Grammy in 1997 for remixer of the year, non-classical.
Knuckles continued to make deejay appearances throughout the 2000s, but had to slow down after being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. According to Rolling Stone, his right foot was amputated in 2008 due to a bone disease exacerbated by diabetes.
Knuckle’s cause of death has not been released, but a statement is expected to be released Tuesday, according to NBC 5 in Chicago.