With a musical career spanning over five decades, George Duke is one of the most anomalously talented artist that has ever walked the planet. His discography is one of sheer perfection. He is a singer, composer, instrumentalist, producer, and innovator. Heavily underrated, Duke can be traced to almost every popular genre like Fusion jazz, Funk, Alternative rock, Jazz, Post-disco, and Smooth jazz. His musical talents are infinite. His roots in funk, George Duke had the ability to reinvent himself with every new wave of sound from the late sixties forward, all while still remaining true to his Keyboard sound. Duke was a true innovator who contributed to the Funky sound of the 70s- and beyond.
Dukey on The Floor
George Duke was born in Marin County, San Rafael, California on January 12, 1946. Duke began playing the piano at the young age of 7 in his family’s Baptist church. By the time he reached the age of 16, he was a part of several bands. After graduating from Tamalpais High school, Duke would go on to attend The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he would earn his Bachelors of Music in 1967. Following Duke would attend San Francisco State University, attaining his Masters of Composition. He became a music professor at Merritt Junior College in Oakland, California.
At the age of four, George Duke’s mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert, which would ignite the initial spark of musical creativity in him. He would start taking piano lessons and know how to play by age seven. When he reached his adolescence, he was exposed to Miles Davis, where he would learn how to play a host of other instruments by himself. In his early twneties, he would be a part of various bands and tour. He would end up joining various jazz artist which led him to gain much experience and become a producer.
George Duke worked with some of the most famous artist ever like:
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley
Dianne Reeves (Who is also his cousin)
and many more!
Duke would release his last album Dreamweaver in July of 2016, as an homage to his wife of forty years, Corine, who passed away in 2012. Shortly after the release of his last album, Duke would succumb to severe lymphocytic leukemia. He was 67. He left behind two sons and a legacy untarnished and paralleled.
Keyes, Cheryl L. “Sound, Voice, and Spirit: Teaching in the Black Music Vernacular.” Black Music Research Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, 2009, pp. 11–24. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20640669.
HASSE, JOHN EDWARD. “Washington’s Duke Ellington.” Washington History, vol. 26, 2014, pp. 36–59. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23728369.
Jones, Alan. “George Duke.” Music Week, 24 Oct. 2016, p. 33. EBSCOhost, login.ezproxy.auctr.edu:2050/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mah&AN=119125123&site=ehost-live.
KOVARSKY, JERRY. “Big Daddy (A.K.A. George Duke).” Keyboard, vol. 42, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 34-36. EBSCOhost, login.ezproxy.auctr.edu:2050/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mah&AN=111950419&site=ehost-live.
GLASGOW, STEVIE. “George Duke’s “Reach for It.” Bass Player, vol. 26, no. 2, Feb. 2015, pp. 70-77. EBSCOhost, login.ezproxy.auctr.edu:2050/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mah&AN=102632586&site=ehost-live.
“George Duke 1946 – 2013.” Keyboard, vol. 39, no. 11, Nov. 2013, pp. 24-25. EBSCOhost, login.ezproxy.auctr.edu:2050/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mah&AN=91650726&site=ehost-live.