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Grammy-Winning Jazz Icon And Zappa Collaborator George Duke Dies
Jazz keyboardist George Duke, who collaborated with icons including Miles Davis, Michael Jackson and Frank Zappa in his 40-plus year career, has died at age 67.
NPR reports that the jazz legend died on Monday. According to USA Today, he had been battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Duke was known for bridging jazz, funk, R&B and Brazilian genres. In his long career, he collaborated with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, experimental rocker Frank Zappa, George Clinton and Anita Baker and performed with Brazilian superstars Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira. He played on Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off The Wall.
More recently, he worked with Jill Scott and has had his work sampled by Kanye West, Daft Punk and Common.
Duke was born in San Rafael, California, and studied at the San Francisco Conservatory, but he would become recognized for his unique keyboard work, Rolling Stone notes.
He was first inspired to perform when he saw Duke Ellington as a child, as he told USA Today in 1997. "I remember seeing this guy in a white suit, playing this big thing, which I later found out was a piano. He had all these guys around him, and he was waving his hands conducting... and seemed to be having a good time. And his name was Duke, and my last name was Duke. I told my mom, 'I want to be him.' That moment in time set the stage for me."
Duke put out more than 40 albums in as many years. "It's a wonderful thing that has happened under the banner of jazz," he told USA Today of his career longevity. "In R&B and rock, when you are over a certain age, they say goodbye to you. But in jazz, you just kind of level off and continue to gain respect, so long as you keep your integrity."
Duke's final album, DreamWeaver was released July 16 and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart.
"The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father's friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming," said his son, Rashid Duke, in a statement, via USA Today. "Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support."
Duke's wife, Corine, died last year.
Among those tweeting their condolences were Justin Timberlake, Bootsy Collins, Anita Baker and Los Angeles-based musician Marcus Miller, who shared a photo he took of Duke on a 2011 tour with David Sanborn.
RIP George Duke. Funk, Jazz, MUSIC Legend... One of the GREATEST.— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) August 6, 2013