Sir Duke

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"Sir Duke"
Single by Stevie Wonder
from the album Songs in the Key of Life
B-side "He's Misstra Know-It-All"
Released March 22, 1977
Format 7"
Genre Funk, R&B, disco
Length 3:54
Label Motown
Writer(s) Stevie Wonder
Producer(s) Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"I Wish"
(1976)
"Sir Duke"
(1977)
"Another Star"
(1977)
Songs in the Key of Life track listing
"Contusion"
(4)
"Sir Duke"
(5)
"I Wish"
(6)

"Sir Duke" is a song composed and performed by Stevie Wonder, from his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. Released as a single in 1977, the track topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Black Singles charts,[1] and reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart, his joint biggest hit there at the time.

The song was written in tribute to Duke Ellington, the influential jazz legend who had died in 1974. The lyrics also refer to Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

The artists, apart from Stevie Wonder, who perform on the original version were: Raymond Pounds (drums), Nathan Watts (bass), Mike Sembello (lead guitar), Ben Bridges (rhythm guitar), Hank Redd (alto saxophone), Trevor Laurence (tenor saxophone), Raymond Maldonado (trumpet), and Steve Madaio (trumpet).

Wonder re-recorded the song for the 1995 live album Natural Wonder.

Background[edit]

Wonder wrote the song as a tribute to Duke Ellington, a jazz pianist who had an influence on him as a musician. Wonder had already experienced the passing of two of his idols (Dinah Washington and Wes Montgomery) after attempting to collaborate with them.

After Ellington died in 1974, Wonder wanted to write a song acknowledging musicians he felt were important. He later said, "I knew the title from the beginning but wanted it to be about the musicians who did something for us. So soon they are forgotten. I wanted to show my appreciation." Later tributes included "Master Blaster" in 1980 (dedicated to Bob Marley) and "Happy Birthday", which pleaded for commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday.[2]

Wonder pays tribute to "some of music's pioneers" in the song: "There's Basie, Miller, Satchmo, and the king of all, Sir Duke / And with a voice like Ella's ringing out / There's no way the band can lose".

Charts[edit]

Chart (1977, 1978) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 1
UK Singles Chart 2
Preceded by
"When I Need You" by Leo Sayer
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
May 21 – June 4, 1977
Succeeded by
"I'm Your Boogie Man" by KC and the Sunshine Band
Preceded by
"Whodunit" by Tavares
Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
May 28, 1977
Succeeded by
"Got to Give It Up (Part 1)" by Marvin Gaye

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 636. 
  2. ^ Bronson.

External links[edit]