Gene Chandler on PBS 1999

Duke of Earl
#1 in 1962

Gene Chandler, "The Duke" was born Eugene Dixon, July 6, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois. Although Chandler seems to have sprung into being in 1962, when he introduced himself to the world as "The Duke of Earl", Eugene Dixon had been singing since the early 1950s, first with The Gaytones. In 1957 he joined a doo-wop group called The Dukays with James Lowe, Shirley Jones, Earl Edwards and Ben Broyles, quickly becoming their lead singer. He was drafted by the US Army to Germany for three years, returned to Chicago in 1960, and rejoined his bandmates. As the story goes, during their vocal warm-ups, the group would repeat the phrase "doo-doo-doo-doo" at different pitches. Through many repetitions, it began to evolve. Words were added. Melodies began to form. Earl Edwards' name was added. The song that evolved was "Duke of Earl." In the late 1970s, even while he was putting hits on the disco charts, the nostalgia craze began. Legendary DJ Wolfman Jack put together a traveling show of "oldies" acts, and Gene Chandler joined them in the travels around the country. You can still see him performing in his top hat, cane, and cape.
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