George Duke was reared in a working class section of Marin County. He was just four years old, when his mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert. That concert was life changing for him.
He began his piano studies at age seven, absorbing the roots of Black music in his local Baptist church. “. I saw how music could trigger emotions.”
He was heavily influenced by Miles Davis and the soul-jazz sound of Les McCann and Cal Tjader. Attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and majoring in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1967.
George and a young singer named Al Jarreau formed a group which became the house band at San Francisco’s Half Note Club. George later received a Masters Degree in composition from San Francisco State University.