By: Michelle R. Gipson
I am sure we can all remember a George Duke occasion.
For me, it was in the 70's listening to my father's 8-track of "Dukey Stick" and trying to look cool doing the funky chicken in our living room.
I had no idea that the man that I was jamming too, would show up and show out later in my life.
George Duke was born in California in 1946. Formally trained, Duke, played the trombone, keyboard, contrabass, synthesizer and keytar, yet he was most known for his work as a pianist and composer.
Throughout Duke's career, he collaborated with such musical greats as Dianne Reeves, Stanley Clark, Geroge Clinton, Rachelle Farrell and Anita Baker. He produced two albums for Miles Davis and recorded Latin Jazz with singers Flora Purim and Milton Nascimento.
George Duke re-entered my life as a college student at Hampton University. In a world that was brimming with hip hop sounds of "Tribe Called Quest" and "Public Enemy", it was uncommon to hear an R&B song, much less a ballad, but there were a few that infiltrated our culture and one of those was "No Rhyme; No Reason."
The song was on the album "Snapshots" released in the fall of 1992 and the first time I heard it, I was surprised to hear a song that was so sad and beautiful at the same time. It was the counter reality of the "I found the one and was never tempted by another" lyrics that filled happier songs and even though the words were not joyful, they were beautiful. Set next to the melody of his keyboard and with Rachelle Farrell's distinct voice on background vocals that made their way to the front during the piano solo, it was a classic that would teach me that as a writer, you can write a painful and beautiful love story.
I was fortunate to see him perform "No Rhyme; No Reason" and the other George Duke songs that I grew to love equally, many times in many venues. It never failed that his passion for music was present at every concert and his fans appreciated him for it. Duke's last album, "Dreamweaver" was released July 2013.
George Duke's sun set, August 5, 2013. He was 67 years old.
At the time of this publication, the cause of his death had not been disclosed.
Preceding him in death was his wife Corine Duke and he is survived by his sons, Rasheed and John.
Sources: Wikipedia; EURWeb; Wikipedia; Amazon.com