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House pioneer Rodney Bakerr has died

Rodney was a beloved label owner, producer, and a teacher.

An unsung hero of the Chicago house movement, Rodney Bakerr (real name Baker, the double R was for artistic purposes), has passed away due to a heart attack. According to an artist’s family member, funeral services are still pending.

Best known in the house music scene as the founder of Rockin’ House Records, Baker would go on to release records from some of Chicago’s greatest producers, including Tyree Cooper (‘Video Crash’; ‘The Dreams’) and E-Smoove (‘The Eric Miller’ EP). As head of A&R, Baker had a preternatural gift for scouting out the best work from producers who were relatively unknown. Baker was also a teacher at Chicago Vocational School (CVS) and the Art Institute.

Baker’s influence spread well beyond Chicago when he was hired by Roland USA to write the first original House music patterns for the TR 808, 909, and TR series drum machines for the gear manufacturer.

‘You had to sit down with this piece of equipment,’ Baker said at the time, ‘and really think about how to put your soul into that machine. That’s what House Music is about: how to put your soul, your personality, into conquering the ghost in that machine. And later when it’s played over big speakers, other people feel something from what you put into that mechanical device. There’s an art to that.’

‘He had a great heart for young black men and all young men,’ Tyree Cooper says about Rodney’s death. ‘He just wanted them to do better than what was reported in the news about our community.’

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