Duke of Earl

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"Duke of Earl"
Chandler Duke Earl.jpg
Single by Gene Chandler
B-side"Kissin' in the Kitchen"
ReleasedNovember 1961
Recorded1961[1]
GenreR&B, doo-wop
Length2:23
LabelVee-Jay
Songwriter(s)Gene Chandler, Earl Edwards, Bernice Williams
Producer(s)Bill Sheppard
Gene Chandler singles chronology
"Duke of Earl"
(1961)
"Walk On with the Duke"
(1962)
Peach colored vinyl
Limited edition release
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.[2] It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[3][4]

Original version by Gene Chandler[edit]

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.[5][6] "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.

Cover versions[edit]

The Pearlettes, a girl group, released a cover version of the song (as "Duchess of Earl") in 1962, reaching number 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.[7]

Another cover was recorded by the UK-based doo-wop outfit Darts in 1979. It reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart.

In 1988, Australian harmony group "Dukes of Earlwood featuring Armondo Hurley" reached number 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.

The Cypress Hill song "Hand on the Pump" from their eponymous 1991 album features the first words of the song ("Duke of..." looped) as a vocal sample throughout the whole song.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "*The Official Website*". Genechandler.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  2. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". Grammy.org. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  3. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll". Scribd.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  4. ^ [1] Archived May 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Robert Pruter (1996). Doowop: The Chicago Scene. University of Illinois Press. pp. 211–213. ISBN 9780252065064.
  6. ^ "Gene Chandler - *The Official Website*". Genechandler.com. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  7. ^ 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 ...!

External links[edit]