George Duke is not exactly a household name, however the multi-instrumentalist is perhaps one of the most important jazz musicians to have worked in the contemporary and mainstream music industry over the past few decades. The funk and R&B pioneer, who has been sampled countless time since the begins of hip-hop and electronic music, sadly passed away in Los Angeles this Monday (5 August) following a long battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

George Duke
Duke was always held with admiration by his fellow musicians

A representative from Duke's music label, Concord Music Group, confirmed his death with USA Today earlier this week, with his son, Rashid Duke, releasing a statement on behalf of the artist's family. The statement read; "The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father's friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming. Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support."

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Duke was born in San Rafael, California, Duke had aspired to be a musician since his early childhood and stood by his ambition throughout his formative years, eventually forging a four-decade career as a solo and session musician. The Grammy Award-winning keys tickler produced more than 40 albums as a band leader and solo artist, going on to collaborate with all manner of other musicians from across the musical spectrum, including Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jill Scott and Michael Jackson. His work has also been sampled on countless occasions, most significantly by DOOM, Kanye West & Common, Daft Punk and Ice Cube.

Since his passing was announced, his death has sparked a wave of response from across the Twitter-verse and furhter in the social medial world, with artists such as Justin Timberlake, Erykah Badu, Bootsy Collins and more expressing the grief at the sad news. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.