“My wife passed in July last year. It was very tough. And I come down the studio, where we are now…and it’s never been difficult for me to record…that’s like water running down a sink. I come in here and I’m like, ‘Not today.’”
That was probably the first moment in the life of the superlative George Duke that his musical genius was temporarily silenced.
And yet, after absorbing the grief of losing his beloved wife Corine last year, all of his talents re-emerged with the release of his latest album last month. But little did we know that it would be his last.
There wasn’t a single musical boundary that could contain George Duke’s musicianship. He would play and compose for a vast array of highly talented artists, from Miles Davis to Frank Zappa; from jazz, funk, soul, rock—he would play it all over a 40-year professional career. When asked how many albums he’d recorded, George Duke said, in all seriousness, that he couldn’t remember.
And it all started when he began taking piano lessons at the age of four after seeing Duke Ellington perform. “I don’t remember it too well,” wrote George Duke on his website, “but my mother told me I went crazy, saying, ‘Get me a piano, get me a piano!’”
Of course, his mother did, and thereby granted the world one of the finest musicians of the modern age.
George Duke died on Wednesday at the age of 67.