||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2011)|
|Birth name||Peter Wilson|
|Born||4 January 1971|
|Origin||Lisburn, Northern Ireland|
|Years active||2002 - present|
|Labels||Medieval Haircut Records
Universal Music Ireland (2008)
Reel to Reel (2009-2011)
Adventures in Gramophone (2012 - present)
Duke Special, real name Peter Wilson, is a songwriter and performer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A piano-based songwriter with a romantic style and a warm, distinctly accented voice, he has distinctive long dreadlocks, eyeliner and outfits he describes as "hobo chic". His live performances have a theatrical style inspired by Vaudeville and music hall, and often incorporate 78s played on an old-fashioned gramophone, or sound effects from a transistor radio. He is most often accompanied by percussionist "Temperance Society" Chip Bailey, who plays cheese graters and egg whisks, a Stumpf fiddle and a Shruti box, as well as the more typical drums and cymbals. Other musicians who perform with Wilson from time to time include Paul Pilot (guitar), Réa Curran (trumpet, backing vocals, accordion), Ben Castle (clarinet, saxophone), Ben Hales (bass guitar), Gareth Williams, "Professor" Ger Eaton (keyboards), Dan Donnelly (mandoline, backing vocals) and Serge Archibald III (saxophone, "ethereal background sounds", vibes).
His albums include Adventures in Gramophone (2005), Songs from the Deep Forest (2006), both of which were nominated for the Choice Music Prize, I Never Thought This Day Would Come (2008), Little Revolutions (2009), The Silent World of Hector Mann (2010), Mother Courage and Her Children (2010), Under the Dark Cloth (2011) and Oh Pioneer (2012).
Wilson was born in Lisburn and grew up in Coleraine, Downpatrick and Holywood with his mother, father and three sisters. Wilson's grandmother, Mary Groves, taught his mother and her brothers and sisters to play the piano. This tradition of playing the piano was passed on to Wilson's three sisters and eventually to him also. He attended Down High School, Downpatrick and later Sullivan Upper School in Holywood.
After leaving school and a brief stint with a community arts project in Swindon, England he returned home and played piano for Brian Houston (a Belfast songwriter influenced by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Elvis) under whom Wilson apprenticed, picking up a hunger for performing and a knack of winning over an audience in the process. Several band mutations on the musical journey followed and saw Wilson front other acts composed of Belfast musicians but he was yet to hit his stride.
He currently resides in Belfast with his wife and family.
In 2002 he went solo, adopting the name Duke Special, and began building up a following as a live performer. He released three EPs on Medieval Haircut Records, the first two of which, Lucky Me and My Villain Heart, were collected as an album, Adventures in Gramophone, released by Hag Records in 2005. The album was nominated for the 2006 Choice Music Prize. In 2006 he signed to V2 Records and released a second album, Songs from the Deep Forest, which was nominated for the 2007 Choice Music Prize. He was nominated for three 2007 Meteor Music Awards, for best Irish male, best newcomer, and best album for Songs from the Deep Forest. A third album, I Never Thought This Day Would Come, was released in Ireland in October 2008 on Universal, who had acquired V2 in 2007.
He has supported acts such as Crowded House, Van Morrison and Snow Patrol, and in 2006 toured Ireland with the Beautiful South and Europe with the Divine Comedy. In 2007 he headlined a concert with the Ulster Orchestra at Belfast's Waterfront Hall, "Orchestral Manoevres". The concert was supported by Julie Feeney and Foy Vance, who sang on one of Duke Special's songs, "This Could Be My Last Day". 2007 also saw him perform at Greenbelt festival, Glastonbury, Guilfest, Summer Sundae, Haldern Festival and the Electric Picnic among others and support Bell X1 on 2 dates; in Malahide Castle, Dublin and also as part of the Live at the Marquee series of concerts in Cork. In 2007 he performed as part of the BBC Electric Proms, supporting former Kinks lead singer Ray Davies. In 2008 he won the Meteor Music Award for Best Irish Male.
In August 2008, Duke Special appeared in the Northern Ireland children's television show Sesame Tree (a show of which his son, Ben, is a huge fan, even now, aged 15) with his band, having also written the theme music for the show. He also played on the O2 stage at Oxegen in 2009. Between September and December 2009 Duke Special and his band appeared on stage at the Royal National Theatre in London as part of a new production of Bertolt Brecht's play Mother Courage and Her Children, for which he wrote music for a number of songs. The production was directed by Deborah Warner and starred Fiona Shaw in the title role.
In January 2010 Wilson launched a campaign on Pledge Music (see Fan-funded music) whereby fans pledged for items to help fund the promotion and touring of his triple CD, The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen (comprising Mother Courage and Her Children, The Silent World of Hector Mann and Huckleberry Finn).
In March 2011 Duke Special performed songs based on the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. These songs were subsequently released in November 2011 as the album Under the Dark Cloth performed alongside The RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by David Brophy, with leader Joanne Quigley and arranged for orchestra by Michael Keeney.
In July 2012 Duke Special released his album "Oh Pioneer" on his own label, Adventures in Gramophone, with the help of digital distributor AWAL. It was featured on iTunes, reaching #3 on the Singer / Songwriter chart in Ireland and #7 in the UK.
He will be appearing at Camp Bestival, performing live sets in both the Big Top and in the Black Dahlia / Spiegel Tent - where he will also be debuting as a 78rpm record DJ as a guest of the Shellac Collective.
In 2013 he will headline the main stage at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary. On Friday 6th December 2013, Duke Special hosted 'A Victorian Christmas' in his hometown at Belfast's Empire Hall in which he played 'in-the-round' with a range of different local musicians. 
- Time Is Right EP as Booley House (1996)
- Lemonade as Booley House (Contraflow, 1997)
- Bathroom Floor as Booley (Medieval Haircut/ICC, 1999)
- Garçon Pamplemousse as Benzine Headset (Medieval Haircut, 2001)
- Adventures in Gramophone (Hag, 2005) (collects the EPs Lucky Me and My Villain Heart)
- Songs from the Deep Forest (Izumi - Vinyl / V2 - CD, 2006 / V2 Special Edition CD, 2007)
- I Never Thought This Day Would Come (Universal, 2008)
- Mother Courage and Her Children (Reel to Reel Recordings, 2010)
- The Silent World of Hector Mann (Reel to Reel Recordings, 2010)
- Under the Dark Cloth (2011)
- Oh Pioneer (Adventures in Gramophone, 2012) 
- Little Revolutions (Reel to Reel Recordings, 2009):)
- Little Revolutions Two (Reel to Reel Recordings, 2011)
- Lucky Me (Medieval Haircut Records, 2002)
- My Villain Heart (Medieval Haircut Records, 2004)
- Your Vandal (Hag Records, 2005)
- Huckleberry Finn (Reel to Reel Recordings, 2009)
- Duke Special Sings the Songs of Ruby Murray (Charity 3-Track EP, 2011)
- Orchestral Manoeuvres In Belfast (V2, 2008)
- "Freewheel" (Hag / Izumi Records, 2005)
- "Portrait" (V2, 2006)
- "Last Night I Nearly Died (But I Woke Up Just in Time)" (V2, 2006)
- "Wake Up Scarlett" (V2, 2006) (iTunes download only)
- "Freewheel" (V2, 2007) IRE #15
- "Last Night I Nearly Died (But I Woke Up Just in Time)" (V2, 2007)
- "Our Love Goes Deeper Than This" (V2, 2007) (featuring Neil Hannon and Romeo Stodart, download only)
- "No Cover Up" (V2, 2007)
- "Sweet Sweet Kisses" (Universal Music, 2008)
- "1969" (Visual Independant Productions, 2013)
- One (Myrrh, 2000) - "Peace Has Broken Out" - duet with Moya Brennan
- New Irish Hymns (Kingsway, 2001) / In Christ Alone (USA title - Worship Together, 2002) - backing vocals under real name Peter Wilson - Margaret Becker, Máire Brennan, Joanne Hogg
- Acoustic 07 (V2, 2007) - "This Could Be My Last Day"
- Ceol '09 - "Tochailt Uaighe go Róluath" (a version of "Digging an Early Grave" in the Irish language)
- Theatre production of Mother Courage and her Children 2009 at the National Theatre
-  Amazon Disc Listing
- Cartwright, Garth (31 March 2009). "Duke Special I Never Thought This Day Would Come: Review". BBC Online. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Westlife are still number one". Irish Independent. 16 February 2008. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- "A Very Special Visitor". Sesame Tree. Series 1. Episode 20. 15 August 2008. BBC. BBC Two. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00d1k0g. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Muppets arrive in Belfast as part of new children's television series, Sesame Tree, debuting on BBC Northern Ireland television this month" (Press release). Belfast and New York City: Sesame Workshop. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Rick O'Shea, Peter Wilson (10 July 2009). Interview: Oxegen 09 Duke Special (Video clip). Oxegen music festival: RTÉ. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Lindvall, Helienne (10 December 2009). "Behind the music: The future of fan funding". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- Foley, Jack (2010). "Duke Special – The Stage, A Book & The Silver Screen: Review". Indie London. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Hillsborough Castle Proms in the Park line-up announced" (Press release). BBC. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- "Ruby and the Duke". RTÉ. 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Williams, Ashley (2011). "Irish Musician Duke Special in Concert at the Met". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- BBC - Music - Review of Duke Special - Oh Pioneer
- AWAL - Duke Special
- Gigging Northern Ireland's review of 'A Victorian Christmas'
-  CD Universe Album Listing
-  Duke Special - Oh Pioneer - AWAL Catalogue
- Official site
- Official Profile on MySpace
- V2 Records site
- Izumi Records site
- Duke Special interview, review and photos on Record Overplayed webzine
- Duke Special interview on twistedear.com
- 5 Nights at the Empire DVD review
- FREE Duke Special Session Download
- Duke Special PR in Ireland
- Duke Special review at Daily Music Guide
- Gigging Northern Ireland's review of 'A Victorian Christmas'