Duke of Earl

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"Duke of Earl"
Single by Gene Chandler
from the album The Duke of Earl [1]
B-sideKissin' In The Kitchen [2]
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1962
Format7" 45 RPM
Recorded1961[3]
GenreSoul, doo-wop
Length2:23
LabelVee-Jay Records #416
Writer(s)Gene Chandler, Earl Edwards, Bernice Williams
 
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"Duke of Earl"
Single by Gene Chandler
from the album The Duke of Earl [1]
B-sideKissin' In The Kitchen [2]
ReleasedJanuary 13, 1962
Format7" 45 RPM
Recorded1961[3]
GenreSoul, doo-wop
Length2:23
LabelVee-Jay Records #416
Writer(s)Gene Chandler, Earl Edwards, Bernice Williams

"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.[4] It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll .[5][6]

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 1 on both the pop and R&B charts.[7][8] "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.

Cover versions[edit]

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders released a cover version in 1964. Another cover was recorded by the UK based doo-wop outfit Darts in 1979. It reached #6 in the UK Singles Chart.

Sha Na Na, a rock and roll revival band, performed Duke of Earl live at the Woodstock Festival of 1969.

Daddy Cool covered the song as a single released in 1973.

Cornell Campbell released a reggae version as a single in the UK in 1975, on the Trojan Records label.

In 1983, Youth Brigade performed "Duke of Earl" on their album Sound & Fury.

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).

The Beach Boys, Orleans, and Red Hot Chili Peppers have also played their version of the song whilst on tour. Cypress Hill sampled "Duke of Earl" into one of their own hit songs, "Hand on the Pump", on their 1991 self-titled album.

The Karate Lincolns, a punk rock American band, also performed this song in their 2010 release Pop Riggin

The song has also been sung by The Nylons, The Four Tops, New Edition, The Barron Knights and the Van-Dells.

Popular culture references[edit]

The original Gene Chandler recording featured in the film "Hairspray".

In his song "Keeping the Faith", Billy Joel sings "I thought I was the Duke of Earl / When I made it with a red-haired girl in a Chevrolet".

Reference is made to the Duke of Earl as being a friend of Wolfman Jack in The Guess Who's song, "Clap for the Wolfman".

The Randy Newman song "Mikey's," from the album Trouble in Paradise, ends with "Whatever happened to the old songs, Mikey? / Like 'The Duke of Earl' / Mikey, whatever happened to the fucking Duke of Earl?"

In the Hall & Oates' song "Diddy Doo Wopp (I Hear the Voices)" from the album Voices, Daryl Hall sings, "Charlie liked the Beatles / Sam, he liked "Rich Girl" / I'm still hung up on the Duke of Earl".

In the film, Carry On Behind, Ernie (played by Jack Douglas) can be seen wearing a Duke of Earl T-shirt.

In the film The Man with Two Brains, a prostitute (Randi Brooks) sings the song (described it as her "favorite") revealing her unexpectedly unpleasant and squeaky voice (she pronounces it "Dook, Dook, Dook, Dook of Oil..."). This is also possibly contributed to the name of the modern-age Green Arrow villain, the Duke of Oil.

Frank Zappa pays homage to Chandler's song on the Mothers of Invention's 1967 "Absolutely Free" release; one song on the album is titled "Duke of Prunes," while in another, titled "Amnesia Vivace," the phrase "Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Prunes, Prunes, Prunes" is echoed.

In the film King Ralph, the titular character played by John Goodman sings the song as the end credits roll.

In the film The Wrong Guys, John Goodman plays the character Duke, leader of the Earl Gang, who are wanted by the FBI.

In the 1988 animated film Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, Big Paw sings a song called "I'm a Puppy Too" which is based on, and plays to the tune of, the song "Duke of Earl," and Big Paw's singing voice was provided by Mark Vieha.

The song was performed by the rock and roll comedy group Sha Na Na as part of their set at Woodstock Festival in 1969.

In the Magnum, P.I. episode "Going Home", Magnum and a friend are seen singing a drunken a cappella of the song.

The 'Duke of Earl' is mentioned in the Men Without Hats song "Pop Goes the World".

Datamation humor columnist Chris Miksanek titled his "Over the Edge" online weblinks companion "The Duke of URL" which ran from 1998 until 2001.

In the Don Henley song "They're Not Here, They're Not Coming", he sings "No place for sentiment, no room for romance" / "Bring back the Duke of Earl".

In the episode "Kelly Does Hollywood" of the show Married... with Children, Al Bundy attempts to get on Kelly's show by performing a dramatic reading of the song.

A reference to this song is mentioned in an episode of My Name Is Earl entitled "Burn Victim".

In his song "Window on the World", John Hiatt sings "The Queen of Sheba meets the Duke of Earl".

In The Dead Milkmen song "Punk Rock Girl", her father is referred to as the Duke of Earl (as well as the Vice President).

The song is parodied in the show The Critic referring to Duke Phillips and sung by parodies of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.

The song was parodied in a 1990s commercial for Hellmann's Dijonnaise ("Di-di-di-Dijonnaise-naise-naise").

At New York Ranger hockey games at Madison Square Garden, the song is usually played on the arena organ after the opposing team scores a goal.

The song was also parodied from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s for a commercial in Australia for a hair care company called Decore.

Steely Dan use the lyric "If you grew up in Amsterdam, then I'm the Duke of Earl" in the song "Slang of Ages" on their 2003 album "Everything Must Go"

In the season 6 "Cheers" episode "Slumber Party Massacred"; Sam, Norm, Cliff and Frasier perform a rendition of the beginning of the song to cheer Carla up during a depressive spell.

In the episode of Coronation Street airing on July 22, 2010, Lloyd Mullaney is shown singing along to this while walking around his flat in a towel before being interrupted by Cheryl Gray.

The hook was sampled by Cypress Hill in "Hand on Pump" on their 1991 album "Cypress Hill."

The song is sung by Sipowicz and Simone in an episode of NYPD Blue.

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons reference the Duke of Earl in their song "I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die" on their 2011 album Mysterious Power.

The Duke of Earl is referenced in the opening line of The Walkmen's "We Can't Be Beat" from their 2012 album "Heaven."

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Peppermint Twist - Part I" by Joey Dee and the Starliters
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
February 17, 1962 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Hey! Baby" by Bruce Channel
Preceded by
"I Know (You Don't Love Me No More)" by Barbara George
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
February 17, 1962 – March 17, 1962 (five weeks)
Succeeded by
"Twistin' the Night Away" by Sam Cooke