Ahead of DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles being laid to rest in a memorial service held Monday night in Chicago, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paid tribute to the house music "trailblazer."
In an open letter dated April 17 and shared Tuesday morning by DJ David Morales, the Obamas write that Knuckles' work "helped open minds and bring people together, blending genres to capture our attention and ignite our imagination. He was a trailblazer and his legacy lives on in the city of Chicago and on dance floors across the globe."
"While he will be dearly missed, we trust Frankie's spirit will remain a guiding force," the letter continues.
Almost a decade ago, Obama, then an Illinois state senator, was instrumental in declaring August 25, 2004 "Frankie Knuckles Day" in Chicago. He and the future first lady posed for a photo that has made the rounds on social media since the Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer died unexpectedly of diabetes-related complications on March 31 at the age of 59.
— jjeferguson (@jjeferguson) April 1, 2014
That same year, a stretch of Jefferson Street near the location of Knuckles' legendary Warehouse dance club was dedicated as Frankie Knuckles Way.
Also this week, musician Elton John announced the creation of the Frankie Knuckles Fund, a new charity fund that will support HIV research in black communities and operate under the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
"Frankie was such a lovely man and a great talent," John said in a statement, "and his legacy provides a powerful voice to reach out to people, particularly men of color, about their essential role in helping to create an AIDS-free future."
Frankie Knuckles in the DJ booth at Crobar in New York in 2003. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)