Known as a virtuoso in his field, Duke was a multifaceted musician in jazz, funk, R&B and fusion and, and produced and composed for Miles Davis, Gladys Knight, Anita Baker and Johnny Gill, among many others. He collaborated with Jill Scott and Frank Zappa. And, he created more than 30 of his own solo projects, including his most recent album, DreamWeaver, which was dedicated to his wife Corine, who died of cancer just last year.
Duke also worked as music director, including for the 1989 Nelson Mandela tribute concert in London and NBC’s music performance program Sunday Night.
His work has been sampled by Kanye West (for Common‘s “Break My Heart” off Finding Forever), Ice Cube (“True to the Game”), MF Doom (“I Hear Voices,” “Someday”), Spice 1 (“In My Neighborhood”) and 9th Wonder (for NC rapper Kaze’s “Spirit of ’94”).
Duke was featured on Jill Scott’s “Whenever You’re Around” off her third album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3.
No word yet on cause of death or funeral arrangements. Former Supremes singer Sherri Payne confirmed the news. “I just received the devastating and sad news that the great musician, George Duke, passed away this evening at St. John’s hospital in L.A.” she wrote in a statement. “It was just one year earlier, July 18th, that his beloved wife and my friend, Corine, went to be with the Lord. Please keep his sons, Rasheed and John, in your prayers.”