On Monday August 5, at age 67, jazz/funk/R&B musician/producer/composer George Duke passed away in Los Angeles after a long bout with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The Grammy award winner had recently released his final album, Dreamweaver, on July 16 (which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz chart) in remembrance of his wife Corine, who passed away last year. During Duke’s four-decade career, he collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Deniece Williams, Regina Bell, George Clinton, Frank Zappa, Jill Scott, while artists like Kanye West and Common sampled his works.
Born in San Rafael, California, Duke began playing the piano at four years old after seeing Duke Ellington perform and eventually graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory then from San Francisco State University with a Master’s in composition. He was a well-versed musician on the keyboards, clavinet, synthesizers, and acoustic piano.
"The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father's friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming," the musician’s son, Rashid Duke, wrote in a statement. "Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support."
Friends and celebs took to twitter to offer their condolences and reactions to the news. Justin Timberlake tweeted, “RIP George Duke. Funk, Jazz, MUSIC Legend… One of the GREATEST.” Questlove said, “George Duke master of his craft has left us folks. not how i wanted to start my tuesday morning…” and Erykah Badu posted, “We Grew up on Duke. :-(.” Jazz flutist Bobi Humphrey posted on her Facebook page, ““George Duke! Forty years, my friend! Heaven! A little bit funkier!”
Watch the late master musician talk about his latest LP Dreamweaver below: