|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|
|Stevie Wonder singles chronology|
"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, and reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart, his joint biggest hit there at the time.
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.
Stevie Wonder performed this song live at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert on the 4th of June 2012.
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.
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".
|Chart (1977, 1978)||Peak
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles||1|
|UK Singles Chart||2|
"When I Need You" by Leo Sayer
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
May 21 – June 4, 1977
"I'm Your Boogie Man" by KC and the Sunshine Band
"Whodunit" by Tavares
|Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single
May 28, 1977
"Got to Give It Up (Part 1)" by Marvin Gaye
The song was featured in an episode of the 1970s sitcom Good Times.
Franco-American singer Joe Dassin added a French cover version of the song, "La musique c'est le monde des fous" (Music is the world of madmen), with lyrics by Claude Lemesle, to his live set in 1977. A studio version was released posthumously.
In the early to mid-1990s, "Sir Duke" was played during the NBA's New York Knicks games at Madison Square Garden. It is featured in the Derrick Comedy sketch "Progressions of a Mad Hatter". The song was played at the 2004 Democratic National Convention after the Presidential nomination acceptance speeches of John Kerry and John Edwards.
It was used for the theatrical trailer for the 2010 comedy, "Lottery Ticket".
- Jazz trio Codona recorded the song in a brief medley with two Ornette Coleman songs on their debut album Codona (1979)
- In 1995, saxophonist Najee covered the song from his Stevie Wonder tribute album Songs from the Key of Life.
- MysteryGuitarMan aka Joe Penna also made a cover for his YouTube channel.
- Austin, Texas pop-rock band Two Guy Trio covered the song on their 2002 album Your Rock 'n' Roll Birthday.
- Filipino singer Ogie Alcasid covered the song from the 2003 compilation album, The Best of Crossover Presents.
- The a cappella group Blue Jupiter performed a cover of this song on their 2002 album Ear Candy.
- British singer Olly Murs covered the song in a medley of Stevie Wonder hits on his 2011 theatre tour of the UK.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 636.
- "Songs from the Key of Life overview". Allmusic.com.