George Duke (January 12, 1946 – August 5, 2013) was an American musician, known as a keyboard pioneer, composer, singer and producer in both jazz and popular mainstream musical genres. He worked with numerous artists as arranger, music director, writer and co-writer, record producer and as a professor of music. He first made a name for himself with the album The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio. He was known primarily for thirty-odd solo albums, of which "A Brazilian Love Affair" from 1980 was his most popular, as well as for his collaborations with other musicians, particularly Frank Zappa.
George Duke was born in San Rafael, California. He was raised in Marin City. It was at the young age of 4 that Duke first became interested in the piano. His mother took him to see Duke Ellington in concert and subsequently told him about this experience. "I don"t remember it too well," says George, "but my mother told me I went crazy. I ran around saying "Get me a piano, get me a piano!"" He began his formal piano studies at the age of 7, at his local Baptist church. It was those early years that influenced his musical approach and feel, as well as his understanding of how music elicits emotion.
Duke attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley before earning a bachelor"s degree in trombone and composition with a minor in contrabass, from the San Francisco Conservatory in 1967. Playing initially with friends from garages to local clubs, Duke quickly eased his way into session work, which refined his abilities and expanded his approach to music. He later earned his master"s degree in composition from San Francisco State University.
Although he started out playing classical music he credited that his cousin Charles Burrell (musician) for convincing him to switch to jazz.  Duke explained that he "wanted to be free" and Burrell "more or less made the decision for me" by convincing him to "improvise and do what you want to do". Later he taught a course on Jazz And American Culture at Merritt