Duke was known for bridging jazz, funk, R&B and Brazilian genres in styles that ranged from sensitive to disruptive. He worked with Michael Jackson on Off the Wall in 1979, and produced and composed for Miles Davis on several albums in the 1980s.
Duke was born in San Rafael, California, and studied composition and contrabass at the San Francisco Conservatory, but he would become recognized for his unique keyboard work. In 1969 he released The Jean-Luc Ponty Experience with The George Duke Trio with violinst Jean-Luc Ponty, which was a huge success.
In the 1970s, Duke’s work grew more experimental through his collaborations with Zappa, beginning with Chunga’s Revenge. He would go on to lend his talents to other Zappa albums including Apostrophe and Over-Nite Sensation.
Duke was recognized in the world of R&B for his contributions to albums by everyone from George Clinton to Anita Baker. In the 1970s he established roots with Brazilian music after performing with Milton Nascimento, Flora Purim and Airto Moreira.
During his career, Duke put out more than 40 albums. His official cause of death has yet to be reported. He is survived by his two sons Rasheed and John.