George Duke, the R&B-jazz fusion musician and frequent collaborator to Frank Zappa, has died. He was 67.
A native of San Rafael, California, Duke released upward of thirty solo albums over the course of five decades. He was proficient in several instruments, including keyboard, piano, synthesizer, and keytar.
Aside from appearing on nine different Zappa albums in the 1970s, including Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, Apostrophe, and One Size Fits All, Duke also collaborated with Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, George Clinton, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Anita Baker.
In 1988, he served as the musical director for the Nelson Mandela tribute concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, and in 1989 he was Saturday Night Live’s musical director.
Most recently, Duke teamed with Jill Scott for her 2007 album The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3. He had also been working on a new solo album, Dreamweaver.
Duke’s work has been sampled by a number of hip-hop artists, including by Kanye West for Common (“Break My Heart”); MF Doom (“I Hear Voices”); and 9th Wonder (“Spirit of 94”). Plus, Daft Punk sampled “I Love You More 1979” for their song “Digital Love”.
Check out footage of Duke performing with Zappa, along with a past interview with Duke:
Listen to Common’s “Break My Heart”, produced by Kanye West, which samples Duke’s song “Someday”.
Listen to Daft Punk’s “Digital Love”, which samples “I Love You More 1979”.