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updated: 4/5/2014 6:39 PM

Notable deaths: Frankie Knuckles, Charles Keating

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  • This July 2, 2009, photo shows Chicago disc jockey Frankie Knuckles. Known as the "Godfather of House Music, he was also a producer, having done work for artists including Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

      This July 2, 2009, photo shows Chicago disc jockey Frankie Knuckles. Known as the "Godfather of House Music, he was also a producer, having done work for artists including Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
    Associated Press/Sun-Times Media, Brian Jackson

  • In this May 9, 1990, file photo, savings and loan financier Charles H. Keating Jr., appears at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington. Keating, the financier who was disgraced for his role in the costliest savings and loan failure of the 1980s, has died.

      In this May 9, 1990, file photo, savings and loan financier Charles H. Keating Jr., appears at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington. Keating, the financier who was disgraced for his role in the costliest savings and loan failure of the 1980s, has died.
    Associated Press

  • This photo provided by courtesy of Los Angeles Master Chorale shows Music Director Emeritus of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Paul Salamunovich, at the piano in Los Angeles.

      This photo provided by courtesy of Los Angeles Master Chorale shows Music Director Emeritus of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Paul Salamunovich, at the piano in Los Angeles.
    Associated Press

  • In this photo taken in November 1984, artist Richard Black, left, works with his class at Rosewood Art Centre in Kettering, Ohio.

      In this photo taken in November 1984, artist Richard Black, left, works with his class at Rosewood Art Centre in Kettering, Ohio.
    Associated Press

 
Daily Herald news services

Frankie Knuckles, a Grammy-winning Chicago disc jockey known as the "Godfather of House Music" who worked with artists including Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, has died at age 59.

Knuckles died Monday in Chicago, the Cook County medical examiner said Tuesday. The medical examiner said a cause of death was not available.

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Knuckles is considered a key figure in the evolution of the house music genre, dating back three decades to venues in Chicago and New York.

"When you're as fortunate as most of us working DJs to be able to share our creative blessings with the rest of the world, no matter how great or small, wouldn't you agree that it's best to give the world the best of who you are?" Knuckles said, in a quote provided Tuesday in a release from his company, Def Mix Productions.

Knuckles was born Francis Nicholls on Jan. 18, 1955, in the Bronx. He worked as a DJ in the early 1970s in New York before moving to Chicago in the late 1970s. In Chicago he was resident DJ at the city's The Warehouse club until it closed in 1983.

It was there that he defined House music's distinct style and took on the role of DJ as tastemaker, said Phil White, co-author of "On the Record: The Scratch DJ Academy Guide." Knuckles "defined really what House music was in terms of style," White said. Knuckles even would cut and tape together pieces of reel-to-reel recordings to make extended tracks, he said.

Junk bond schemer of the 1980s

Charles Keating, 90, spent more than four years in prison for looting Irvine, California-based Lincoln Savings & Loan Association, costing taxpayers more than $3 billion. He became the face of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s caused by the institutions' unsound lending and reckless investing. He died March 31 in a Phoenix hospital.

When Keating's Phoenix-based home construction company, American Continental Corp., bought Lincoln Savings & Loan in 1984, the multimillionaire elevated its worth from $1.1 billion to $5.5 billion in a four-year period.

But his financial empire crumbled with state and federal convictions for defrauding investors. Keating allegedly bilked Lincoln customers by selling them $200 million of unsecured "junk" bonds. They became worthless when Keating's company became bankrupt.

The thrift's collapse cost taxpayers $2.6 billion and tarnished the reputations of five senators who became known as the "Keating Five." One of them was Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and the scandal re-entered the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Chorus director who helped score films

Paul Salamunovich, longtime director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale who helped score movies including "The Godfather," died at 86.

The chorale's publicist, Libby Huebner, says the Grammy-nominated conductor died Thursday of complications related to West Nile virus.

From 1991 to 2001, Salamunovich exposed millions to choral music through recordings and live performances.

The New York Times declared the chorus one of America's top vocal ensembles during his final season.

Salamunovich also helped score and sing on soundtracks for numerous films, including "The Godfather," "How the West was Won" and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence."

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer

Anja Niedringhaus, the German photojournalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Iraq War, was shot dead by a policeman while on assignment in Afghanistan. She was 48.

Niedringhaus was killed while reporting on an election-commission convoy preparing for the presidential election in Afghanistan, according to Baryalai Rawan, a spokesman for the governor in Khost province bordering Pakistan. A Canadian reporter, Kathy Gannon, was wounded in the same attack. The women were seated in the back of a car when the officer fired.

A photographer for The Associated Press since 2002, Niedringhaus was the only woman in a team of 11 photojournalists from the AP who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in the breaking-news category for its coverage of the Iraq War. She was also the chief photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency during the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The artist who drew Mr. Clean

Harry Richard Black, the Ohio artist who created the Mr. Clean character that became a long-lasting advertising hit, died at age 92.

Consumer products maker Procter & Gamble Co. credits Black with creating the muscular bald man who cleans things up quickly. The company chose his depiction to represent its cleaner when it launched in 1958. Mr. Clean quickly became a popular brand and advertising character.

Black also was among artists behind depictions of Smokey Bear for U.S. Forest Service fire-prevention messages.

'Dynasty' star Kate O'Mara

British actress Kate O'Mara, best known for her role in the 1980s soap opera "Dynasty," died at the age of 74.

The actress, who began her television career in the 1960s, became a household name for playing Cassandra "Caress" Morrell, sister to Joan Collins' Alexis Colby, in "Dynasty."

In Britain she is often remembered for her role in "Triangle" -- a soap opera set aboard a North Sea ferry that is often cited as the worst piece of British television.

She also appeared in the original run of British series "Doctor Who" and BBC drama "Howards' Way." In the 1990s she starred in the comedy show "Absolutely Fabulous" with Joanna Lumley.

Other notables

• Hobart "Hobie" Alter, 80, designed the first polyurethane foam surfboards in the 1950s, and Hobie became the world's top- selling surfboard brand. In the 1960s, he produced an affordable fiberglass catamaran called the Hobie Cat, which helped make sailing a sport available to the masses. He died March 29 at his home in Palm Desert, Calif.

• Willard S. Boothby Jr., 92, oversaw the 1972 merger of two financial companies that created Blyth Eastman Dillon & Co., which at the time was Wall Street's third-largest investment firm. Seven years later, the company was bought by Paine Webber Inc. He died March 22 of complications from a fall at his home in Hobe Sound, Fla.

• Ray Hutchison, 81, a bond lawyer in the Dallas office of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, played a key role in major infrastructure projects that shaped the Dallas-Fort Worth area. A former chairman of the Texas Republican party, he married Kay Bailey Hutchison, who served in the U.S. Senate. He died March 30 at a Dallas hospital of heart complications.

• Margo MacDonald, 70, was an influential figure in Scotland's independence movement who served in both the Scottish and U.K. parliaments during her 40-year career. Voters will decide whether to remain part of the U.K. in September. She died April 4 of Parkinson's disease.

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