Gene Chandler

Duke of Earl

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Song Review by

"Duke of Earl" is either one of the last doo wop classics or a link between doo wop and early-'60s soul, depending upon how you look at it. Certainly Gene Chandler went on to do a lot more soul music than he did doo wop. Whatever the case, it was one of the most memorable and successful songs of 1962, reaching #1 on both the R&B and pop charts. Most listeners do remember it principally for the part of the song that's most doo woppish -- the unforgettable opening chant, in which a hoarse low voice repeats "Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl" in a classic descending doo wop melody. The voice almost sounds as if it's putting itself on, so quasi-dorky is its earnest repetition of a meaningless phrase. It's soon joined, however, by a whole chorus of singers harmonizing on the phrase. Those opening riffs are so strong, in fact, that they rather overwhelm the basic verses, in which Chandler croons like conceited royalty. Yet the chorus is almost as memorable as the opening riff, exploding into a jubilant yet haunting passage, ending with Chandler's exclamation "I'm the Duke of Earl." At that point, too, the bass singer counterpoints Chandler with some particularly appropriate stuttering "mum mum-mum"s. And so it goes for the rest of the song, but the several repetitions of the opening riff and chorus are classic enough to carry the day. Chandler does climb into some nice winding falsetto at some points too. Exactly who the Duke of Earl is isn't explained -- it's sufficient to note that he's a duke, and that nothing's going to stop him from making his girl his duchess. A classic fun if slightly silly song, the original arrangement of "Duke of Earl" is so distinctive that there haven't been many covers, although Curtis Mayfield and New Edition were among the more notable stars to try; oldies act Sha Na Na, unsurprisingly, also recorded it.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1976
Various Artists
MCA 2:11
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:23
Cruisin' 1962 1980
Various Artists
Increase Records 3:52
No Image 1984 Chess / MCA
No Image 1985 Disney
21 Rock N Roll Hits at the Movies 1986
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:19
Best of 60's Sock Hop 1987
Various Artists
Priority Records
Cruisin' Years 1988
Various Artists
Rykodisc 6:47
All Hits # 1 1988
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment
Golden Oldies, Vol. 10 [Original Sound 1994] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:18
History of Rock: The 60s, Pt. 3 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:25
Oldies But Goodies: 21 #1 Hits 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:19
Duke of Earl/Groovy Situation 1990 Collectables 2:31
Rock & Roll Originators 1990
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 2:16
Rhythm & Blues: 1962 1991
Various Artists
Time / Life Music
No Image 1992 Sound Solutions 2:26
Jukebox Giants: WCBS New York, Vol. 3 1992
Various Artists
Collectables 2:28
70 Ounces of Gold: Golden Hits, Vol. 2 1992
Various Artists
Compose Records 2:20
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1962-1966 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 2:27
Dick Clark's 21 All-Time Hits, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:18
Greatest Hits 1994 Collectables 2:28
Nothing Can Stop Me: Gene Chandler's Greatest Hits 1994 Varèse Vintage / Varèse Sarabande 2:25
Fun Rock: Gold for the Road 1994
Various Artists
Peter Pan (ISP)
The R&B Box: 30 Years of Rhythm & Blues 1994
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Bros.
Only Rock 'N Roll 1960-1964: 20 Pop Hits 1995
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 2:22
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:20
Platinum Pop [Platinum Pop] 1995
Various Artists
Platinum Pop 2:19
Rock & Roll Party [K-Tel] 1995
Various Artists
Dominion / Guest Star 2:36
Sixties: More Groovy Hits 1995
Various Artists
St. Clair / Prime Cuts 2:30
Cruisin' with Rat Fink: Music of the 50's and 60's 1995
Various Artists
Nesak International 2:24
Happy Days: 100 Rock 'N' Roll Hits 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:32
Tossin' & Turnin' 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:35
Sixties Groovy Hits [1996] 1996
Various Artists
St. Clair / Boxsets 2:30
World of Rock N Roll 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:19
Rock & Roll: 60s Fever 1996
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:34
The Doo Wop Box, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Rhino 2:29
I Love Beach Music, Vol. 1 & 2 1996
Various Artists
Ripete Records 2:22
Pop History: 1962 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:30
Sixties Generation: 1962 1997
Various Artists
St. Clair / Sixties Generation 2:20
20th Century Rocks, Vol. 6: '60s Rock N Roll - Tossin' and Turnin' 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:23
Sun Jammin' 1997
Various Artists
Madacy 2:25
Greatest Rock & Roll Party, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Great Hits 2:20
Pop 60's 1997
Various Artists
Coyote Records 2:24
Born to Be Wild [Madacy] 1997
Various Artists
Madacy 2:25
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Relativity 2:24
Best Sellers of the 60's & 70's 1997
Various Artists
Best Music International 2:20
Whole Lotta Rock: 1960-1961 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 2:25
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:25
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Jukebox Jive: 1955-1964 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 2:25
60's Flashback [Double Play] 1998
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:25
Greatest Hits of the 60's: 1962 1998
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:23
Great Voice of Soul [Rivie're Int'l] 1998
Various Artists
Riviere International Records
The Great Voice of Soul [Cleopatra] 1998
Various Artists
Cleopatra 2:19
#1 Hits: The 60's Decade 1998
Various Artists
Retro Music 2:20
Best Sellers of the 60's, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Wise Buy 2:20
60's Greatest Rock & Roll Hits 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:25
Blue Moon: 26 Doo Wop Classics 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:19
A Child's Celebration of Dance Music 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 2:27
Classic Rock Greats 1998
Various Artists
2:25
Greatest Soul Album of All Time [Dressed to Kill] 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:19
60's Decade #1 Hits 1999
Various Artists
St. Clair / Boxsets 2:17
40 Hits: 1960-1964 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 2:20
The Great Soul Classics 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:19
The Millennium's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Collectables 2:34
Millennium Party Madness 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:22
The 60's [Intercontinental] 1999
Various Artists
Intercontinental Records 2:33
Hits of the 60's 1999 Spectrum Music 0:00
Greatest Hits of the 60's, Vol. 5 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:20
The Millennium's Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 2000
Various Artists
Collectables 2:34
Hot Hits: Rock N' Roll of the 60's 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:25
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 2:24
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:23
Sixties Generation: 1962-1963 2000
Various Artists
Boxsets 2:20
70 Ounces of Gold: Party Gold 2000
Various Artists
Compose Records 2:23
Teen Angel 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:32
Rock Revival: Juke Box Jive 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:33
Sixties Generation: A Decade of Change, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:20
Reverb Oldies 2000
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:22
Groovy Hits of the Sixties 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:34
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:33
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 2:22
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 2:27
Vee Jay Rhythm & Blues: The Soul Era, Pt. 2 2000
Various Artists
Collectables 2:33
Forever Gold: The 60's Groovy Hits 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:30
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Vital Sounds Entertainment / 2K / 2K Sounds 2:19
Hits of the 60's [Green] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 2:25
Back to Black: 1900-1999 2001
Various Artists
Universal International 2:16
Doo Wop Greats 2001
Various Artists
Goldies 2:18
Forever Gold: Doo Wop 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 0:00
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:22
20th Century Rocks: '60s Rock 'n Roll - Tossin' and Turnin' 2001
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:22
Soul Love, Vol. 2 [Dressed to Kill] 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:19
Then: Totally Oldies, Vol. 2 2001
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Varese 2:28
Lowrider Oldies, Vols. 1-9: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2001
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:24
This Is Soul [Pegasus] 2001
Various Artists
Pegasus (Pinnacle) 2:25
Number 1 Hits 50's 60's & 70's 2002
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:20
Happy Days 50's & 60's 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:19
Jukebox Hits 1962 [Madacy] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:23
Rock N' Roll Hits: Golden 1962 2002
Various Artists
Madacy 2:24
East Side Story, Vol. 1-12 2002
Various Artists
East Side Records 2:25
Soul: Angel of the Morning 2002 Past & Present Records 2:17
Golden Oldies, Vol. 9 [Original Sound 2002] 2002
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:23
Rock and Roll Party [K-Tel] 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel / K-Tel Distribution 2:37
Vee-Jay: The Very Best of R&B 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 2:33
The Story of Vee-Jay: America's Premier Black Music Label 2002
Various Artists
Metro Doubles 2:19
History of Rock Box 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:21
Lowrider Oldies, Vol. 1-3: Cruisin' Chrome Series 2003
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:24
Doo Wop Collection [Madacy 2003] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:30
Jukebox Rock [Direct Source] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:28
Billboard #1 Hits of the '60s 2003
Various Artists
Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 2:25
All Your Rhythm & Blues Favorites [16 Tracks] 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:24
Box of Rock 2003
Various Artists
Import 2:35
Rock N' Roll Hits Of The 60s [Disc 1] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:30
Gold Collection: Memorable Radio Hits 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:45
Happy Days of Rock 'n' Roll 60s [Bonus DVD] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:28
60's Soul Sessions 2004
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:24
Happy Days of Rock 'n' Roll 60s - Disc 1 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:28
Smash Hits of the 60's 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:25
Nothing But Number 1's of the USA 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:23
No Image 2008
Various Artists
CMC Records 2:25
No Image
Various Artists
Arc Music
300 Hits: Saturday Night Party
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing / Wienerworld 2:35
Box of Rock [Disc 9]
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 2:35
No Image
Original Soundtrack
Warner Bros. 2:22
Hitsville 62
Various Artists
Cherished Records
No Image Charly Records
No Image
Various Artists
Warwick
No Image
Various Artists
Music Club Records
Stand by Me Charly Records