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Virtuoso Musician George Duke Dies: 5 Fast Facts You Need to know

The genre-hopping musician has passed away

The genre-hopping musician has passed away

George Duke, a master keyboarder, composer, singer and producer who navigated through the genres of jazz fusion, R&B, funk, and more, has died at age 67. Here are the facts you need to know about this musical pioneer and the circumstances of his death.


1. He Died of Leukemia


Monday, August 5 in Los Angeles.  Jazz Wise Magazine reporters he has passed after battling and being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He leaves behind his sons, Rashid and John. Funeral services will be private.


2. His Body of Work Spans Several Decades and Different Styles of Music

duke george dies
Duke was a multi-faceted American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. Duke released his first album in 1967, and came to the attention of famed art rocker Frank Zappa, as well as legendary jazz saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. Duke would spend the late ’60s through the mid ’70s working with both artists.

“I’m kinda like [John] McCain in that way: He doesn’t know how many houses he’s got; I don’t know how many albums I’ve got,” Duke joked during an interview with NPR in 2008.

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3. He Was Left Devasted By The Death of His Wife


The musician was widowed after his wife, Corine, died from cancer about a year ago. He was unable to make music for months. Eventually, he was able to step out of his depression and create and inspiring collection of mostly original compositions called “Dream Weaver.”  The album debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s Contemporary Jazz Chart.

Duke expresses his love for his late wife on the tender, piano-driven ballad “Missing You,” a romantic vocal duet with Rachelle Ferrell.


4. Daft Punk and Kanye West Used his Tunes


As stated by Duke’s Wikipedia page, contemporary artists such as Daft Punk (featured above) and Kanye West sampled his tracks for their own music.

Duke’s songs have been used by a wide variety of contemporary musicians in a wide array of genres. These include: “I Love You More”, sampled by house music-act Daft Punk for their hit “Digital Love”; “Guilty”, sampled by electronica music artist Mylo in his song “Guilty of Love” on Destroy Rock & Roll. “For Love”, sampled by underground hip hop artist MF Doom on his track “I Hear Voices”; “Someday”, sampled by hip hop artist/producer Kanye West for Common in “Break My Heart” on his “Finding Forever” album; “You and Me”, sampled and used by soul/rhythm and blues influenced hip hop-producer 9th Wonder for his collaboration album with Kaze for the track “Spirit Of ’94” on the album Spirit Of ’94: Version 9.0; and “Reach for It”, sampled by Ice Cube in “True to the Game” on his Death Certificate album and Spice 1 in “In My Neighborhood” on his self-titled debut album.


5. He Was Inducted to the SoulMusic Hall of Fame


By popular vote, Duke was inducted into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame at SoulMusic.com in December 2012. Throughout his career, Duke had the ability to make synthetic instruments sound soulful.

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