"Sir Duke" is a song composed and performed by Stevie Wonder, from his 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. Released as a single in 1977, the track topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Black Singles charts,[1] and reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart, his joint biggest hit there at the time.

The song was written in tribute to Duke Ellington, the influential jazz legend who had died in 1974. The lyrics also refer to Count BasieGlenn MillerLouis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Wonder re-recorded the song for the 1995 live album Natural Wonder.


 [hide*1 Background


Wonder wrote the song as a tribute to Duke Ellington, a jazz pianist who had an influence on him as a musician. Wonder had already experienced the passing of two of his idols (Dinah Washington and Wes Montgomery) after attempting to collaborate with them.

After Ellington died in 1974, Wonder wanted to write a song acknowledging musicians he felt were important. He later said, "I knew the title from the beginning but wanted it to be about the musicians who did something for us. So soon they are forgotten. I wanted to show my appreciation." Later tributes included "Master Blaster" in 1980 (dedicated to Bob Marley) and "Happy Birthday", which pleaded for commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday.[2]

Wonder pays tribute to "some of music's pioneers" in the song: "There's BasieMillerSatchmo, and the king of all, Sir Duke / And with a voice like Ella's ringing out / There's no way the band can lose".


  • Produced, Written, Arranged and Composed by Stevie Wonder
  • Vocals by Stevie Wonder
  • Trumpets by Raymond Maldonado and Steve Madaio
  • Drums by Raymond Pounds
  • Bass by Nathan Watts
  • Lead Guitar by Mike Sembello
  • Rhythm Guitar by Ben Bridges
  • Alto Saxophone by Hank Redd
  • Tenor Saxophone by Trevor Lawrence


Chart (1977, 1978) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Soul Singles 1
UK Singles Chart 2
Preceded by

"When I Need You" by Leo Sayer

Billboard Hot 100 number-one single

May 21 – June 4, 1977

Succeeded by

"I'm Your Boogie Man" by KC and the Sunshine Band

Preceded by

"Whodunit" by Tavares

Billboard Hot Soul Singles number-one single

May 28, 1977

Succeeded by

"Got to Give It Up (Part 1)" by Marvin Gaye

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