Duke Ellington biography

Duke Ellington

Bandleader, Musical Artist

1899 – 1974


Who was Duke Ellington?

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was an American composer, pianist and bandleader of jazz orchestras. His career spanned over 50 years, leading his orchestra from 1923 until death.

Though widely considered to have been a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, Ellington himself embraced the phrase "beyond category" as a "liberating principle," and referred his music to the more general category of "American Music," rather than to a musical genre such as "jazz." Born in Washington, D.C., he was based in New York City from the mid-1920s onwards, and gained a national profile through his orchestra's appearances at the Cotton Club. In the 1930s they toured in Europe.

Some of the musicians who were members of Ellington's orchestra, such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, are still, in their own right, considered to be among the best players in jazz, but it was Ellington who melded them into the best-known jazz orchestral unit in the history of jazz. Several members of the orchestra remained members for several decades. A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm record format, Ellington often composed specifically for the style and skills of his individual musicians, such as "Jeep's Blues" for Hodges, and "Concerto for Cootie" for trumpeter Cootie Williams, which later became "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me" with Bob Russell's lyrics.

Famous Quotes:

  • ”No man, let her hang loose…!!! It`s great !!!”


Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:


"Duke Ellington." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 21 Apr. 2021. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/duke_ellington>.

We need you!

Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!

Apr 29, 1899
Washington, D.C.
Also known as
  • Duke Ellington's Orchestra
  • Duke Ellingtton
  • The Duke
  • Duke Elinton
  • Duke Ellinton
  • Edward Kennedy Ellington
  • Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington
  • Elligton, Duke
  • Edward Ellington
  • Duke Ellington
  • Christianity
  • African American
  • United States of America
  • Armstrong High School
Lived in
  • North Carolina
May 24, 1974
New York City
Resting place
Woodlawn Cemetery

on July 23, 2013

Discuss this Duke Ellington biography with the community:


    Browse Biographies.net