Sir Duke

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"Sir Duke"
Sir Duke45.jpg
Single by Stevie Wonder
from the album Songs in the Key of Life
B-side"He's Misstra Know-It-All"
ReleasedMarch 22, 1977
GenreFunk, R&B, pop[1]
Songwriter(s)Stevie Wonder, Samuel Oakes, Bertie Mitchell (The Vaults)
Producer(s)Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"I Wish"
"Sir Duke"
"Another Star"

"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,[2] and reached number two in the UK Singles Chart, his joint biggest hit there at the time. Billboard ranked it as the No. 18 song of 1977.

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.

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


Wonder wrote the song as a tribute to Duke Ellington, the jazz composer, bandleader, and pianist who had influenced him as a musician.[3] Wonder had already experienced the death 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 me. So soon they are forgotten. I wanted to show my appreciation."

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".

Wonder recorded other tributes to people he admired, including the 1980 songs "Master Blaster", dedicated to Bob Marley, and "Happy Birthday", which pleaded for what would eventually become the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday in the United States.


Cash Box said that "it's a tribute to jazz and roots, with a beat that lies somewhere between jazz and funk, and a horn section that dances on winged feet."[4] Record World said upon its single release: "Already familiar from its radio play and already on The Singles Chart, it is shaping up as a major hit."[5] New York Times critic John Rockwell said that it's "not Wonder's most compelling song, but nice that it should be so popular."[6]

Charts and certifications[edit]



  1. ^ McFerrin, John. "Stevie Wonder- Songs In The Key of Life". Archived from the original on 2020-07-02. Retrieved 2018-09-22.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 636.
  3. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. April 2, 1977. p. 68. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-07-12. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  4. ^ "CashBox Singles Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. April 2, 1977. p. 20. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-11-27. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  5. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. April 9, 1977. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  6. ^ Rockwell, John (June 17, 1977). "Top 10 Singles Are All Eclectic". Charlotte Observer. p. 10D. Archived from the original on 2022-06-21. Retrieved 2022-06-21 – via
  7. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5242a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  8. ^ "Stevie Wonder: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  9. ^ "Stevie Wonder Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "Stevie Wonder Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2017-08-02. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1977/Top 100 Songs of 1977". Archived from the original on 2017-08-03. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  13. ^ Billboard. 1977-12-24. p. Front cover. Archived from the original on 2021-08-24. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  14. ^ "British single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 February 2022.

External links[edit]