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]
Length3:54
LabelTamla
Songwriter(s)Stevie Wonder
Producer(s)Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder singles chronology
"I Wish"
(1976)
"Sir Duke"
(1977)
"Another Star"
(1977)

"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.

Background[edit]

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.

Personnel[edit]

  • Produced, written, arranged and composed by Stevie Wonder
  • Vocals, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and percussion by Stevie Wonder
  • Trumpets by Raymond Maldonado and Steve Madaio
  • Drums by Raymond Pounds
  • Bass guitar by Nathan Watts
  • Lead guitar by Michael Sembello
  • Rhythm guitar by Ben Bridges
  • Alto saxophone by Hank Redd
  • Tenor saxophone by Trevor Lawrence

Notable Covers[edit]

  • Bassist Nathan East covered the song on his 2014 self entitled album, Nathan East.
  • Late R&B artist Lou Rawls has a cover of the song on his 2016 album, Live in Concert (Live).
  • On July 5, 2019, Vox published a YouTube video with musician Jacob Collier, titled "Jacob Collier deconstructs a Stevie Wonder classic." In the video, Sir Duke is dissected and broken down into parts and pieces, explaining why and how the song is so successful. The video has garnered over 1.5 million views[4] on the platform.

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John McFerrin. "Stevie Wonder- Songs In The Key of Life". 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. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  4. ^ Jacob Collier deconstructs a Stevie Wonder classic, retrieved 2020-05-06
  5. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5242a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  6. ^ "Stevie Wonder: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  7. ^ "Stevie Wonder Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  8. ^ "Stevie Wonder Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  9. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1977/Top 100 Songs of 1977". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  11. ^ Billboard. Books.google.com. 1977-12-24. p. Front cover. Retrieved 2016-10-11.
  12. ^ "British single certifications – Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 28 February 2020. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Sir Duke in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]