Duke of Earl
|"Duke of Earl"|
|Single by Gene Chandler|
|Released||January 13, 1962|
|Songwriter(s)||Gene Chandler, Earl Edwards, Bernice Williams|
|Gene Chandler singles chronology|
|Peach colored vinyl|
Limited edition release
"Duke of Earl" is a 1962 US number-one song, originally by Gene Chandler. It is the best known of Chandler's songs, and he subsequently dubbed himself 'The Duke of Earl'. The song was penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards. This song was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
Original version by Gene Chandler
The song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler (under his original name, Eugene Dixon) and Earl Edwards and that had already had some success on the R&B chart. The group would regularly warm up by singing "Do do do do..." in different keys. On one occasion, Dixon changed the syllables he was singing to include Earl's name, and the chant gradually became the nonsense words "Du..du..du..Duke of Earl". The pair worked on the song with regular songwriter and mentor Bernice Williams, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. However, the group's record company preferred to release another song, "Nite Owl", leaving Dixon with the offer of releasing it as a solo artist. Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler (a surname taken from that of the actor Jeff Chandler), and the song was released at the end of 1961, quickly rising to become number one on both the pop and R&B charts. "Duke of Earl" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 13, 1962, and held the number-one spot for three weeks. It was on the Hot 100 for a total of 15 weeks. Musicians on the record included Floyd Morris on piano, Lefty Bates, Phil Upchurch and Kermit Chandler on guitar, Al Duncan on drums, and Cliff Davis and John Board on sax.
The Pearlettes, a girl group, released a cover version of the song (as "Duchess of Earl") in 1962, reaching #96 on the Billboard chart. Bobbie Smith and the Dream Girls also released an "answer song" titled "Duchess of Earl" in early 1962; however, the two songs are different in music and lyrics.
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders released a cover version in 1964.
Daddy Cool covered the song as a single released in 1973.
New Edition released a version in 1986.
In 1988, Australian harmony group "Dukes of Earlwood featuring Armondo Hurley" reached #12 on the Australian charts with a cover of "Duke of Earl". The success of the song came after the popularity of a TV commercial for Decoré Shampoo which used an adaptation of "Duke of Earl" as its jingle (viz. "De-de-de Decoré, de-de Decoré, de-de Decoré..." etc.).
In September 2014, the song was performed on The Tonight Show by host Jimmy Fallon and Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. The song has also been sung by The Four Tops, The Barron Knights, and the Van-Dells.
Meanwhile, Little Feat, The Beach Boys, Orleans, and Red Hot Chili Peppers have also played their version of the song whilst on tour. Frank Zappa and the Mothers parody the song as "Duke of Prunes" on the album Absolutely Free.
- "*The Official Website*". Gene Chandler. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll". Scribd.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
-  Archived May 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- Robert Pruter (1996). Doowop: The Chicago Scene. University of Illinois Press. pp. 211–213.
- "Gene Chandler - *The Official Website*". Gene Chandler. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- Billboard - 24 Feb 1962 - Page 12 "BOBBIE SMITH and the DREAMGIRLS Answer the Duke With the "DUCHESS OF EARL" The hottest selling record in the country deserves an answer and this new exciting record is it! Bobbie Smith and the Dreamgirls deliver this ...!