Woke up this morning to the sad news that George Duke had passed. The keyboard virtuoso and pioneer of Jazz and Jazz Fusion was associated with musicians ranging from Jean Luc-Ponty to Frank Zappa to Billy Cobham to Gene Ammons and more. Duke played on a slew of different records, notably Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall and also with Miles Davis in the 80’s besides putting out over 30 of his own. He was a composer, writer and professor, able to tackle Brazilian, Rock, R & B, Experimental, Funk, Gospel, Soul and any other type of music thrown his way. Not afraid to rock the keytar (as well as keyboards), Duke was highly respected as a musician and band leader throughout his career.
His music was sampled by artists such Diamond D, Ice Cube, Large Professor Kanye West, MF Doom, and Daft Punk. People knew about the Funk Duke was laying down, it was hard to miss. An all around funky cat who broke musical boundaries with his experimental sound. He will be sorely missed. Play some George Duke loud today. Here’s a clip of Duke (and a young Sheila E on percussion) in the studio from 1978. Damn! This sure funk-ay. R.I.P. Big Man.
George Duke and band in the studio doing “Dukey Stick”