Chicago house music legend Rodney Bakerr has died.
Baker, who produced and DJ’d with an additional “r” on his surname, suffered a heart attack last week. He was best known as founder of Rockin’ House Records, a highly selective imprint established in 1986, which would put out an average of one record per year over the next three decades.
News hit yesterday, when 5Mag published a long read tribute written by Terry Matthew, which includes an interview with Tyree Cooper. His hits, ‘Video Crash’ and ‘The Dreams’, are considered Rockin’ House benchmarks.
“There’s a simple adage: you never get out of the record business,” Baker is quoted as telling Matthew back in 2015. “I tried. Then some guy in Scotland wants that RH005 record, and if you don’t put it out, you know the bootleggers will. Every year there’s a record from 10 or 15 years ago subject to a resurgence of interest, and record after record keeps floating back to the surface.”
The article goes into great detail about Baker’s influence within Chicago and beyond, explaining how he was a teacher at the Chicago Vocational School (CVS) and the Art Institute, in addition to being a highly respected artist, boss and performer.
He is considered the first producer to add live guitar and other instruments to house and acid house, and was drafted by Roland to write the first original house music pattens for the firm’s iconic TR 808, 909 and TR series drum machines. More recently he was touring globally as Strange Circuits, a live industrial project he founded with Diane Kleidon and Virginia S. Cram in 1980.
No confirmed funeral or memorial service plans had been announced at the time of writing. A selection of Rodney Bakerr productions are below, and you can find our more about his life and work here.