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George Duke has died
August 7, 2013 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Keyboard legend George Duke, known for his work with Frank Zappa, Billy Cobham, and Stanley Clarke, as well as for many solo projects, has died.
posted by thelonius (22 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by Thorzdad at 8:47 AM on August 7, 2013


My favorite Zappa/Duke track: Inca Roads

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posted by Strange Interlude at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Old Slippers

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posted by $0up at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny Funk. Amazing.

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posted by mintcake! at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2013


Oh man, one of the great musicians at the junction of funk, soul and jazz.
posted by ardgedee at 9:00 AM on August 7, 2013



posted by Smart Dalek at 9:13 AM on August 7, 2013


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posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:18 AM on August 7, 2013


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posted by El Brendano at 9:52 AM on August 7, 2013


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Duke was insanely talented, and could lock in as an invaluable sideman as smoothly as he could front a band. He was thoughtful, had a heart of gold, and played with many of the greats -- as an equal.

Many great artifacts of his work can be found all over the web, but one of my favorites is this clip of him goofing with Zappa's band.
posted by vverse23 at 9:54 AM on August 7, 2013


Saw him play years ago with his own band, and then in the last decade, with the Clarke-Duke project and on the tour he did with Marcus Miller and David Sanborn. He was a really good musician, and fun to watch onstage, too.

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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2013


I may have only played Roxy & Elsewhere a few dozen times in my life, but it influenced me as much in my personal and social growth as it did musically. The keyboard playing on those two discs pushed me into an interest in synthesis, and that led to delving deeply into understanding electronics and software.

George Duke made a lot of people happy.
posted by Ardiril at 10:24 AM on August 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by the Real Dan at 10:41 AM on August 7, 2013



Duke was insanely talented, and could lock in as an invaluable sideman as smoothly as he could front a band. He was thoughtful, had a heart of gold, and played with many of the greats -- as an equal.

Can't say better than that!

George Duke co-wrote "Uncle Remus", which appears on Frank Zappa's Apostrophe (') album. This makes Duke one of a very few band members to receive a co-writing credit with Zappa. Here's Duke's own recording of Uncle Remus. He really churches it up.

On Fifty-Fifty from Overnite Sensation -- a tune that exists only to provide space to solo over a nifty-nifty chord progression -- Duke's keyboard solo is to my ears by far the most interesting of the three.

Apropos of the Louie Louie thread a few days back, here's the Clarke-Duke Project's funk-jazz-funk version:

Long version
Short version (w/ official video)


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posted by Herodios at 11:44 AM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


This makes Duke one of a very few band members to receive a co-writing credit with Zappa.

He may also have been the only musician ever to have Zappa guest on an album -- under the pseudonym Obdewl'l X, Frank played on "Old Slippers" and "Love" from George's 1974 album "Feel."

I saw George play with Sanborn and Miller two years ago in Denver; it was a great show. They were all signing autographs afterward and I thought about going back to my car to get a disc for George to sign but I didn't. Wish I would have.
posted by Clustercuss at 11:59 AM on August 7, 2013


His solo albums for both MPS and later, Epic, (here's the absolutely smoking tune "Diamonds" with Flora Purim from his Reach For It album) deserve mention. He was also a fine writer of RnB and jazz things and his MiniMoog synthesizer work (Like on his lovely ballad "Feel", was pioneering. Gone way too soon.

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posted by Seekerofsplendor at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Reach For It" should have been in the main post, yes. Why his bassist, Byron Miller, is not a household name among bass players is a mystery to me, too.
posted by thelonius at 12:50 PM on August 7, 2013


He may also have been the only musician ever to have Zappa guest on an album

nope - grand funk railroad
posted by pyramid termite at 1:52 PM on August 7, 2013


George was a member of my high school class, Tamalpais High School class of 1963. We are now planning our 50th year reunion, a month off, and George had been trying to arrange his performing schedule to attend. He made all the reunions, and when he played in Oakland at Yoshi's, much of the class would turn out. George is one of four members of our class whose senior photo hangs on the school wall, our most distinguished alumnus. (One of the other three photos is mine.)

George got an award at the commencement for never missing a day of school in four years. He was embarrassed that he had actually missed a few HOURS due to a dentist's appointment.

Bob Greenwood, the Tam High music teacher had two future Grammy winners in his classes, George Duke (class of '63) and Bill Champlin (class of '65). Of course they were lifelong friends, and both performed together at our 20th year reunion.
posted by Repack Rider at 2:21 PM on August 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wow. This is sad. He was one of the main reasons I loved Zappa's 70s bands (he and Ruth Underwood). A MONSTER talent/musician.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:00 PM on August 7, 2013


Sorry to hear this. First learned of him in the early 1970s when he replaced Joe Zawinul in Cannonball Adderley’s band, then saw him a few times with Zappa (1973, 1974) and enjoyed his playing. RIP George; hope you’re enjoying it up there in the Cosmik Debris.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:23 PM on August 7, 2013


My ipod shuffled to Duke's wonderful version of Uncle Remus on my way to work, just hours before I found out he had passed.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 9:39 PM on August 7, 2013


He may also have been the only musician ever to have Zappa guest on an album

On 'King Kong: Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa', Zappa played guitar on 'How Would You Like To Have A Head Like That'.

[Bonus for Duke fans: George is on every track on the album!]
posted by On the Corner at 1:11 AM on August 23, 2013


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