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Jazz and R&B Keyboard Legend George Duke Dead at 67

Image courtesy of Facebook.com/GeorgeDukeMusic (via ABC News Radio)
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/GeorgeDukeMusic (via ABC News Radio)

Jazz and R&B keyboard legend George Duke , who worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to eclectic rocker Frank Zappa , has died, according to a publicist for his record label. He was 67.

After graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Duke and a then-unknown singer named Al Jarreau worked together in the house band at a San Francisco club, which brought them into contact with jazz greats like Sonny Rollins .  Pushing the boundaries of jazz, Duke later teamed up with with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty , and then worked and toured with rock iconoclast Frank Zappa.  He also worked as a sideman for jazz icon  Miles Davis , and played on Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album.

While releasing albums as a solo artist, Duke also moved into producing, working on the smash singles "Let's Hear It for the Boy" by Deniece Williams , "On the Wings of Love" by Jeffrey Osborne , and "Sukiyaki" by A Taste of Honey .  Other artists with whom he worked include Melissa Manchester , Barry Manilow , Jill Scott , Natalie Cole , Dionne Warwick , Smokey Robinson , The Pointer Sisters , Gladys Knight , and Anita Baker .  His biggest crossover hit was the top 10 R&B single "Sweet Baby," a 1981 collaboration with jazz bassist Stanley Clarke .

Duke also worked as the musical director for many big events, and served as the musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards for nine years.  His songs have been sampled by contemporary musicians including Daft Punk , Kanye West and Ice Cube .  His latest album, Dreamweaver , was just released last month.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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