Jump to content

Duke Erikson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Duke Erikson
Duke Erikson performing with Garbage at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, 2019
Duke Erikson performing with Garbage at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, 2019
Background information
Birth nameDouglas Elwin Erickson
Born (1951-01-15) January 15, 1951 (age 73)
Lyons, Nebraska, U.S.
GenresRock, alternative rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, screenwriter, film producer, record producer
Instrument(s)Guitar, keyboards, vocals
Years active1974–present
LabelsGeffen Records
A&E Records
Atlantic Records

Douglas Elwin "Duke" Erikson (born January 15, 1951) is an American musician, songwriter, screenwriter, film producer and record producer, best known as a co-founder and guitarist of the alternative rock band Garbage. Garbage has sold more than 17 million albums worldwide.[1]

Early life[edit]

Duke Erikson was born in Lyons, a small rural community in Nebraska.[2] His first musical instrument was the piano, and his second was the guitar.[3] At the age of 16 he joined his first band, The British, which was inspired by his passion for the British beat movement.[4] Erikson operated the light show for The British which was constructed out of a cigar box and door hangers. "I ran that with my left hand while I played Farfisa organ with my right," he commented.[3]

When Erikson completed high school, he attended Wayne State College where he studied drawing and painting, ultimately becoming a teaching assistant.[3][5]

Musical career[edit]


Erikson formed the rock band Spooner in 1974 with two fellow musicians in Madison, Wisconsin. Erikson sang lead vocals, played keyboards and guitar, and became the band's principal songwriter, his compositions being described by City Lights as "strangely seductive" and "immediately draw[ing] in the listener".[6] Spooner became a quartet when Butch Vig joined them on drums.[7] Spooner released two well-received albums, Every Corner Dance and The Wildest Dreams, and toured across the Midwest.[8] Rolling Stone magazine called their debut album "a convincing collection of sparkling pop music", to which "Erikson's edgy, poetic slice-of-small-town-life lyrics add a genuine, idiosyncratic touch".[9]

In 1983, Erikson helped Vig and Steve Marker establish Smart Studios in Madison, where he helped to design the studio interior and where he has carried out engineering, production and remixing work for a series of local and international rock artists.[10][11]


In 1986, Erikson collaborated again with Vig to form the garage-rock band Fire Town, in which he played guitar and contributed vocals.[12] The band released two albums, In the Heart of the Heart Country and The Good Life, the latter on Atlantic Records.[13] Rolling Stone praised their debut as "a striking, thoughtful album" with "killer harmonies".[14]

While Fire Town had disbanded by 1989,[12] Spooner had an unexpected late resurgence: their single "Mean Old World" became a hit, prompting them to re-form, make a new album – The Fugitive Dance – and embark on a tour before they disbanded in 1993.[13]


Erikson (right) with Garbage touring bassist Eric Avery, 2021

After Marker saw singer Shirley Manson performing with her band Angelfish on MTV's 120 Minutes in 1994, he persuaded Erikson and Vig that they should audition her for their new band, which became Garbage.[15] Erikson co-wrote the band's seven albums, contributing guitar, keyboards, and bass.[16] The albums have sold more than 17 million copies worldwide.[1]

In a major feature on the band for The Sunday Times in 1998, the British journalist Tony Barrell described Erikson's persona in Garbage as "the cool dude with the goatee and the Mr Spockish demeanour".[17] Though sometimes a taciturn presence in the band, Erikson has been known to contribute an air of dry humour to media interviews. During a discussion in 1996 about the interpersonal chemistry within Garbage, he deadpanned: "We have a little room where we go and cry."[18]

Erikson's other projects include the production of other artists. He produced the single "If You Go" by the Greenlandic singer Simon Lynge, which received regular airplay in Britain during 2011 after being added to the BBC Radio 2 playlist.[19]

Erikson is on the board of directors of the acclaimed UK independent record label Lo-Max Records, which is home to The Wrens, The Go-Betweens, Kevin Ayers, and Simon Lynge. In 2017 he co-produced and worked extensively on sound restoration for the American Epic series as well as co-producing the music for The American Epic Sessions.[20][21]

Erikson's daughter, Roxy Erickson, is a photographer based in London, England.[22]


Film career[edit]

In 2006 Erikson co-founded Lo-Max Films and was the co-creator, producer and co-writer of the Emmy Award nominated American Epic documentary film series.[23][24] The films covered the first recordings of roots music in the United States during the 1920s and their cultural, social and technological impact on North America and the world.[25] The series involved ten years of field research[26] and has been cited as one of the best music documentaries ever made.[27][28][29][30][31]

Erikson co-produced and co-wrote The American Epic Sessions, an award-winning musical film, directed by Bernard MacMahon, in which an engineer restores the fabled long-lost first electrical sound recording system from 1925, and twenty contemporary artists pay tribute to the momentous machine by attempting to record songs on it for the first time in 80 years.[23][25][30] The film starred Steve Martin, Nas, Elton John, Alabama Shakes, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Jack White, Taj Mahal, Ana Gabriel, Pokey LaFarge, Rhiannon Giddens and Beck.[25]

In September 2017 the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools announced a nine-month preschool to high school educational program based on Erikson’s American Epic films beginning on 6 October 2017.[32] The school, founded by American educator John Dewey in 1896, has over 2,015 students enrolled in 15 grades.[33]

Erikson is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Writers Guild of America West. He is the co-founder of Lo-Max Films, along with film director Bernard MacMahon and producer Allison McGourty.[34]

Awards and honors[edit]

Erikson’s American Epic documentary series and The American Epic Sessions have received numerous awards, including the Foxtel Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival,[35] the Audience Award at the Calgary International Film Festival[36] and a nomination for a Primetime Emmy.[37] On April 23, 2018, the Focal International Awards nominated Erikson for Best Use of Footage in a History Feature and Best Use of Footage in a Music Production.[38]

Award Category Recipients and nominees Result Ref.
Calgary International Film Festival Audience Award The American Epic Sessions Won [39]
Sydney Film Festival Foxtel Audience Award American Epic Won [40]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Music Direction The American Epic Sessions Nominated [41]
Hawaii International Film Festival Halekulani Golden Orchid Award American Epic: Out of the Many the One Nominated [42]
Tryon International Film Festival Best Documentary American Epic Won [43]
Tryon International Film Festival Best Overall Picture American Epic Won [43]
Focal International Awards Best Use of Footage in a History Feature Duke Erikson Nominated [44]
Focal International Awards Best Use of Footage in a Music Production Duke Erikson Nominated [44]


Year Film Writer Score Producer Appears in
2017 American Epic: The Big Bang Yes Yes Yes
2017 American Epic: Blood and Soil Yes Yes Yes
2017 American Epic: Out of the Many the One Yes Yes Yes
2017 The American Epic Sessions Yes Yes Yes Yes


  1. ^ a b Baltin, Steve. "Garbage Might Be The Coolest Band In Rock". Forbes. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  2. ^ Stellmon, Andrew (July 8, 2016). "Q&A with Garbage bassist Duke Erikson; Better Friend releases emotionally chaotic video, heads out on tour; Sights On Sounds features Adam Goldstein doc". Hear Nebraska. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Wolgamott, L. Kent. "Maha show brings Nebraska native back home". JournalStar.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  4. ^ Coffey, Kevin. "Midwest work ethic drives Garbage". Omaha.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  5. ^ Coffey, Kevin. "Homer's is one of Garbage's favorite record stores". Omaha.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  6. ^ "Spooner Waxes A Winner". City Lights. November 19, 1982. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "Spooner Waxes A Winner". City Lights, November 19, 1982 issue. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "Welcome to Spooner Town", by Andy Davis, Record Collector, issue #209, January 1997
  9. ^ Lloyd Sachs (March 7, 1983). "Every Corner Dance". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  10. ^ "Butch Vig | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  11. ^ "Garbage's Duke Erikson on the band's Aug. 1 Central Park show, what's ahead for Garbage, and more". Downtown Magazine. July 28, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Fire Town | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  13. ^ a b 1. Thompson, Dave 2000, p. 384
  14. ^ David Wild (July 16, 1987). "In The Heart of the Heart Country". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 3, 2010. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  15. ^ Callwood, Brett (September 13, 2016). "It's Almost Garbage Day in Denver". Westword. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  16. ^ Menasché, Emile (July 6, 2016). "Partners in Grime: Garbage's Duke Erikson and Steve Marker". www.premierguitar.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  17. ^ Tony Barrell (May 17, 1998). "Shirley Bossy". The Sunday Times. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Tim Sismey (April 10, 1996). "Garbage Interview". Retroactive Baggage. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  19. ^ "Simon Lynge: News". Archived from the original on January 21, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Savage, Adam. "Restoring a vintage 1920s recording system for 'American Epic'". OldPhono.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  21. ^ Dalton, Stephen (October 12, 2015). "'The American Epic Sessions': London Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  22. ^ "Roxy Erickson". Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  23. ^ a b "AMERICAN EPIC - A Journey Through the Music that Transformed America | PBS About". AMERICAN EPIC - A Journey Through the Music that Transformed America | PBS About. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  24. ^ "University of Chicago Laboratory Schools announce 9-month educational program based on the "American Epic" films, music and book". www.prnewswire.com (Press release). Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  25. ^ a b c "BBC - Arena: American Epic - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  26. ^ Lewis, Randy (April 18, 2017). "'American Epic' documentary on birth of recorded music to premiere May 16". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  27. ^ Bradley, Mike (June 4, 2017). "Arena: American Epic". The Observer.
  28. ^ Jackson, Blair (May 15, 2017). "Don't Miss PBS' Roots Music Documentary Series 'American Epic'!". acousticguitar.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  29. ^ Watts, Michael (May 20, 2017). "The first time America heard itself sing". The Economist. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Boyd, Joe (May 19, 2017). "How the record industry crisis of 1925 shaped our musical world". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  31. ^ Webster, Jonathan (June 16, 2017). "American Epic - Reviving Record Production's Past". Long Live Vinyl. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  32. ^ "News Detail - University of Chicago Laboratory Schools". www.ucls.uchicago.edu. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  33. ^ "University of Chicago Laboratory Schools announce 9-month educational program based on the "American Epic" films, music and book". www.prnewswire.com (Press release). Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  34. ^ "Allison McGourty's major new TV series kicks off Perth's Southern Fried Festival". dailyrecord. July 25, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  35. ^ "63rd Sydney Film Festival Complete Foxtel Movies Audience Award Announced" (PDF). sff.org.au. June 22, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 18, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2019. [verification needed]
  36. ^ "And the Winners are… | Calgary International Film Festival". www.calgaryfilm.com. Retrieved March 25, 2018. [verification needed]
  37. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved March 25, 2018. [verification needed]
  38. ^ "Production Nominations". FOCAL INTERNATIONAL AWARDS. April 17, 2018. Archived from the original on April 25, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018. [verification needed]
  39. ^ "And the Winners are… | Calgary International Film Festival". www.calgaryfilm.com. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  40. ^ Shedden, Iain (July 14, 2017). "Stars out for American Epic". www.theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  41. ^ "Nominees/Winners". Television Academy. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  42. ^ "Hawaii International Film Festival (2015)". IMDb. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  43. ^ a b ""American Epic" filmmakers return to Tryon for special event - The Tryon Daily Bulletin". The Tryon Daily Bulletin. December 8, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  44. ^ a b "Focal International Awards 2018" (PDF). Focal International Awards.


  1. Thompson, Dave. Alternative Rock: Third Ear - The Essential Listening Companion. London. Backbeat, 2000. ISBN 978-0879306076

External links[edit]