Duke Ellington

By Blair Clark

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington was born in April of 1899. His dad worked for the U.S Navy while his mother stayed at home. He was born with the name Edward Kennedy Ellington but got the nickname Duke from his friends in high school. When Duke was young, his parents had him taking piano lessons. He was very good but the teacher did not like teaching him because he liked to experiment with different cords. The teacher made him quit. At the time his only love was baseball. Duke would still play the piano through the young years of his life but by the time he got to high school, he realized that he had a true love for music. He practiced all the time and became great. He had also had a plan to study commercial art. Being a musician over powered that. In the 1920's, Duke started to manage bands and play his music around the area of Washington D.C. Duke soon took his band to Harlem, New York to play at the Cotton Club and became a huge hit. He and his band spent many years in Harlem and he decided that it was time to take his band on tours. He not only toured in the United States but also in Europe. With in the next few years, jazz died down and Ellington struggled to write more music. In the mid-1950's, he finally made it back to the big times. His concerts were huge and gained popularity when he got to be on the front cover of Times magazine. Duke continued to be a huge star until his death in 1974. Within eight years of his death he won a Grammy award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the French Legion of Honor. Duke died from lung cancer but refused to get help for the cancer. To this day, Duke's music legacy still lives on through many different ways. Bands still play his music and he will be forever honored for his amazing jazz compositions.

Duke's Impact

Duke Ellington had not only and impact on the jazz world but also on the whole world as a whole. Some of his best years were the 1920's. He made great music that people all over the country wanted to listen to. His music gave people a sense of freedom and happiness. People loved Duke and his music. He gave jazz a whole new aspect. He brought things to jazz that people never thought was possible. The jungle sound boomed when he incorporated it with jazz. Duke is still having an impact on the world today. His music is listened to everywhere.
Duke Ellington "I Must Have That Man" (1928)
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