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Legendary Chicago house vocalist Chuck Roberts has died aged 66

The songwriter, producer, and vocalist, best known for his spoken-word sermon 'In The Beginning (There Was Jack)', has passed away following a battle with cancer

  • 11 June 2024
Legendary Chicago house vocalist Chuck Roberts has died aged 66

Legendary songwriter, producer, and vocalist Chuck Roberts has died aged 66.

According to a statement seen by 5Mag, Roberts passed away "peacefully" at his home in Illinois on Thursday, June 6, following a battle with cancer.

Growing up in Chicago, Roberts began singing at religious events when he was six years old and would later join his first band at age 13, owing his musical beginnings to singing at church.

Often labelled the "voice of house music", Roberts is best known for his spoken-word sermon on Rhythm Controll's 1987 track 'My House' — which starts with the much-sampled phrase: "In the beginning, there was Jack".

Mixmag visited Roberts in 2018 to record his inspiring sermon around New York, watch it below.

The track was produced after Chicago house stalwart Tony Lewis called Roberts in the middle of the night to ask if he would add vocals to a track he'd finished, explaining that he needed someone with a "church background" to "explain what house music is".

'My House' went on to become one of the most celebrated tracks in house music, heard all around the world. The vocal was sampled by the likes of Fingers Inc. and Larry Heard over the years.

In a 2018 interview with 5Mag, Roberts listed his '10 Commandments of House Music', which included: "Thou shalt always be courteous and kind when Jacking on the dancefloor", and: "Charity starts at home before it can spread abroad, support your local artistry".

Among those to have paid tribute to Roberts is Terry Hunter, who shared the news on Facebook, writing: "I can’t believe I’m writing this! RIP Chuck The Voice Roberts!!!! In the Beginning There Was Jack!"

Defected Records also paid tribute on social media over the weekend, writing: "We are saddened to hear about the passing of the legendary Chuck Roberts. The man who penned one of the most iconic vocals in house music."

Read some more tributes below.

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