Celebrate the Life (and House Music) of Frankie Knuckles Tonight and This Weekend


By now, you've probably heard the news: On Tuesday, Mar. 31 2014, Frankie Knuckles, the progenitor of Chicago house music, died at the age of 59. In the late-'70s, his unique sets, played at an after-hours club called the Warehouse, gave house both its aesthetic form and name ("house" originally referred to the kind of music Knuckles' played at his club). His potent mixture of disco and electronics is still a large part of global dance culture today -- house music soundtracks parties in nearly every major city in the world. The suddenness of his death was a tragedy, but that doesn't mean you should stay depressed. Instead, we recommend you go out and celebrate his life at one of the many parties that have chosen to honor his legacy.

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GWAR's Dave "Oderus Urungus" Brockie Put the World Into Perfectly Disgusting Perspective

GWAR's Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus
Bandleader, visual artist, entrepreneur, monster-maker, cable news pundit and World War II scholar Dave Brockie is dead. He leaves behind an enormous extended family of artists, musicians and cohorts that he supported, inspired, and gave a start to. The Richmond, Va., native is probably best known to Earth-bound scum as Oderous Urungus, the hulking alien frontman and mastermind behind heavy metal legend GWAR.

Simpletons would probably dismiss GWAR as a gimmicky novelty act, but real heads know that it was one of the greatest bands to ever grace our puny presence. Formed in 1984 in the midst of Reagan and PMRC-era censorship and paranoia, GWAR managed to take things far beyond the point of bad taste.

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R.I.P. GWAR's Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus

Categories: R.I.P.

R.I.P. Dave Brockie
Dave Brockie, who as Oderus Urungus founded and led the satirical metal band GWAR for 30 years, died Sunday morning at his home in Virginia, according to multiple sources. He was 50.

Richmond's Style Weekly first broke the news. A statement from GWAR's manager, Jack Flanagan:

It is with a saddened heart, that I confirm my dear friend Dave Brockie, artist, musician, and lead singer of GWAR passed away at approximately 6:50 PM EST Sunday March 23, 2014. His body was found Sunday by his band mate at his home in Richmond, Va. Richmond authorities have confirmed his death and next of kin has been notified. A full autopsy will be performed. He was 50 years old, born August 30, 1963.
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R.I.P. Pete Seeger, the Voice of Americans Overcoming

Pete Seeger in 1955
Pete Seeger, who died last night at age 94, was the voice of America. His high, wailing tenor had a fragile, human quality that struck deep into your heart when you heard him sing. He didn't have the smooth voice of a pop singer. He had the rough, untrained voice of a working man, which is what he was for most of his life, despite being born to a relatively well-off family. Without him, the 1960s folk revival -- a movement that revitalized American popular music -- wouldn't have happened. He opened the door that Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, the Byrds, and every other folksinger and folk rocker walked through.

When he discovered an old spiritual called "We Will Overcome," he rewrote it into "We Shall Overcome." That song spread quickly throughout the ranks of demonstrators and activists to became the anthem of the civil rights movement. It helped transform America's racial politics and remains as moving and relevant today as it was when Seeger and his co-writers -- Guy Carawan, Lucille Simmons and Zilphia Horton -- wrote it in the late 50s. (The writers all agreed to donate the royalties the song made to civil rights organizations. The We Shall Overcome Fund is still generating enough money to fund African American groups fighting discrimination.)

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The Everly Brothers Blended American Music Like No One Before Them

R.I.P. Phil Everly
There were harmonies in American pop before the Everly Brothers, mostly based on the singing you'd hear every Sunday sitting in the pews of almost any African American church in America -- strong call-and-response harmonies and rich choral tapestries of sanctified soul. Doo Wop, early girl groups, and R&B artists used them, and kids like Dion and the Belmonts and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers blended them with the sounds of the street corner and took them to the top of the charts. Those early kinds of harmonies were ubiquitous -- until the Everly Brothers arrived.

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R.I.P. Legendary Mission Salsa DJ Chata Gutierrez

Categories: R.I.P.

Chata Gutierrez
Chata Gutierrez, a legendary local salsa DJ and radio personality on KPOO and KPFA who was born and raised in the Mission, died Tuesday after a 12-year battle with liver cancer, according to Mission Local. She was 60.

Gutierrez was a fervent advocate for Latin music beginning in the '70s. Her show "Con Clave" started in 1979 and aired every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. on community station KPOO, featuring a heavy mix of local and international salsa, along with some jazz.

The show won an SF Weekly award in 2000 for Best Salsa Radio Show:

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One Fantastic Ride of a Life: Dub Mission's DJ Sep Remembers Cheb i Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah and DJ Sep.

[After hearing the sad news that DJ Cheb i Sabbah passed away last week, we reached out to DJ Sep, producer/promoter and founder of Dub Mission, who was also a friend of Sabbah's. She wrote back with this remembrance.]

On my computer is an 82-page "worksheet" document, an absurdly long to-do list. On page 11 is a reminder to send Cheb i this email:

So I discovered something interesting the other day....."Cheb" means young. "Sabbah" means morning. "Cheb i Sabbah" means young of the morning. Sepideh [my full first name] means white, used to describe dawn, as in white of dawn....WE HAVE THE SAME NAME!  :)

I never got the chance to send the email.

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R.I.P. DJ Cheb i Sabbah, San Francisco's Godfather of World Music

Categories: R.I.P.

Cheb i Sabbah, the Bay Area DJ, composer, and producer who brought traditional African, Asian, and Arabic music to a mainstream American audience, passed away Wednesday at his home in San Francisco, according to a post from his family on his Facebook page. He was 66.

Born in Algeria in 1947, Sabbah launched his career spinning American soul records in Paris in the '60s. He moved to San Francisco in 1984 and quickly made a name for himself in the burgeoning global music scene; from 1990 through 2005, Tuesday nights would find him spinning for and educating devoted audiences from around the Bay at Nickies in the Lower Haight.

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The Great Lou Reed Is Dead at 71

Categories: R.I.P.

Jeff Yeager
Lou Reed onstage in San Francisco in 2011
Lou Reed, the American music legend who co-founded the Velvet Underground and went on to a fascinating and sometimes confounding solo music career, died today, according to Rolling Stone. He was 71.

No cause of death was immediately reported, but Reed underwent a liver transplant in May. Having famously indulged in heavy drugs and alcohol throughout the '60s and '70s -- but after going sober in the '80s -- Reed said post-transplant that he was "a triumph of modern medicine."

Born in Brooklyn in 1942, Reed co-founded the Velvet Underground with Englishman John Cale. Eventually discovered by Andy Warhol, the band would exert a massive influence on American rock music to come, with its simple, hypnotic song structures, frankly drug-influenced lyrics, and distressed sonics.

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Lou Reed

R.I.P. Darondo, Forgotten Local '70s Soul Star Who Got One Last Taste of Fame

Categories: R.I.P.

Darondo, a once-forgotten hero of Bay Area soul who lived a colorful life and saw a renewed interest in his music in recent years, died yesterday, according to his label, Ubiquity Records. He was 67.

Darondo's best-known song was "Didn't I," a moody, aching ballad that showed off the singer's sweet falsetto. Released in 1973, the song sold 35,000 copies after getting heavy support from local radio. That success helped Darondo get opening slots for James Brown in San Francisco and become friends with Sly Stone.

Always known for living a flashy lifestyle -- and for having plenty of ladies around -- the man born William Daron Pulliam insisted that his main source of income was his work as a hospital janitor. Most others claimed he was also a pimp, a charge Darondo always denied:

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