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Tue, 14 Jan 2014

Frank Zappa and His Collaboration with George Duke


Frank Zappa is a well-known and much admired musician, composer, songwriter, record producer, recording engineer and film director in history. His highly prolific career spanned more than 30 years and ran across different genres like jazz, orchestra and rock.

He had directed films and music videos and had designed covers for albums. In the entirety of his career, Zappa had created and produced more than 60 albums which he had released both as a solo artist and with his band, The Mothers of Invention.

George Duke, on the other hand, is known as a keyboard pioneer, singer, composer and producer of mainstream genres and of jazz in the USA. He is also noted for his work with numerous acclaimed artists as the writer, record producer, and arranger of some of their work.

He first rose into fame with his album, "The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with the George Duke Trio". He had more than 30 albums and dozens of collaborations.



The Collaboration Started In 1970


Frank Zappa and his collaboration with George Duke is the most noteworthy and most known in musical history among Duke's collaborations. Frank Zappa worked with Duke twice, broken by a hiatus due to Zappa's tours in the USA. Their collaboration began with the 1970 Zappa album, Chunga's Revenge.

Duke, a talented keyboard-player, contributed to Zappa's legacy with his work in some of the albums in which Zappa was most known for. Some of these are the 1974-1975 album sequences of Zappa which were Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe, Roxy And Elsewhere (all three were 1974), One Size Fits All and Bongo Fury (both were 1975). George Duke had also performed with Zappa and his band in concerts in this period.

Frank Zappa and his collaboration with George Duke also contributed to George Duke's artistry and his music. While Duke did not call himself a proper singer, his work with Zappa made him assert himself as a vocalist, enabling him to produce more creative works and expand his musical knowledge.

Moreover, being hired as the keyboard player of Zappa's band expanded Duke's repertoire. It is in this time when Duke started experimenting with synthesizers which he would then use with his later collaborations with artists like Michael Jackson.



Frank Zappa and George Duke Influenced Many Artists


George Duke continued on producing prolific music until his death in August 2013 due to chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Zappa died earlier in 1993 after a battle with prostate cancer that had developed unnoticed for the previous ten years of his life. Nevertheless, Frank Zappa and his collaboration with George Duke had created legacy and their music will live on. They are musical icons who will be missed but will indeed never be forgotten.

These two men have influenced many of the artists people still listen to today and will undoubtedly influence many more. Some of the artists who cite Zappa as their influence include:

Alice Cooper, Paul McCartney, Black Sabbath, Mike Portnoy, Clawfinger, System of a Down, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Georgle Clinton, Bill Frisell, Weird Al Yankovic, and Masami Akita.

Like his musical interests, the people he has influenced are a mixture of different genres. Like Zappa, George Duke too lives on with the works of the artists he had influenced like Daft Punk, Ice Cube and Kanye West.