NEW YORK (AP) - George Duke, the Grammy-winning jazz keyboardist and producer whose sound infused acoustic jazz, electronic jazz, funk, R&B and soul in a 40-year-plus career, has died. He was 67.
A representative for Duke said the performer died Monday night in Los Angeles. Duke was being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Duke's son, Rashid, thanked his father's fans in a statement Tuesday.
"The outpouring of love and support that we have received from my father's friends, fans and the entire music community has been overwhelming," he said. "Thank you all for your concern, prayers and support."
Duke was born in San Rafael, Calif. He appeared on a number of Frank Zappa albums and played in the Don Ellis Orchestra, Cannonball Adderley's band and with jazz musician Stanley Clarke. Duke also played keyboard on Michael Jackson's multiplatinum 1979 album, "Off the Wall."
Duke began taking piano lessons when he was 4 years old, after seeing Duke Ellington perform.
"I don't remember it too well ... but my mother told me I went crazy," Duke said on his website. "I ran around saying, 'Get me a piano, get me a piano!'"
Duke said he learned a lot about music from going to church, which helped him add a funk style to his sound. He played in high-school jazz groups and was heavily influenced by Miles Davis. He earned degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University.
On tour as part of the George Duke Trio, he performed in Los Angeles at a show where Adderley, Zappa and Quincy Jones were in attendance. Duke soon joined Zappa on a tour for a year in 1969. He joined Adderley's band in 1971. He met Clarke through Adderley, and they formed the Clarke/Duke Project. Their song "Sweet Baby" was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard pop charts.
Duke became a solo artist in 1976 and released more than 30 solo albums. He also produced for Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Natalie Cole.
Duke's wife, Corine, died from cancer last year. His latest album, "DreamWeaver," was released last month and features a touching tribute to her.
He worked as musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards and other special events. He also scored songs on soundtracks for "The Five Heartbeats" and "Karate Kid III."
Review: Duke offers heartfelt tribute to late wife
Charles J. Gans, Associated Press
George Duke, "DreamWeaver" (Heads Up International)
George Duke was left devastated by the death of his wife, Corine, from cancer a year ago and unable to make music for months, but the keyboardist and composer eventually overcame his grief to create an inspiring collection of mostly original compositions called "DreamWeaver." He weaves together the eclectic threads of his 40-plus year musical career: acoustic jazz, electronic jazz-rock fusion, funk, R&B and soul.
The mid-tempo "Stones of Orion," which pairs Duke on acoustic piano with longtime collaborator Stanley Clarke on upright bass, is a gently swinging modern jazz composition that recalls his early days with Cannonball Adderley's band. Duke's distinctive ability to make vintage synthesizers - the ARP Odyssey, Minimoog, clavinet and Prophet 5 - sound bluesy and funky comes through on the 15-minute "Burnt Sausage Jam."
Duke also assembled an impressive lineup of soul and R&B vocalists, including Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne and BeBe Winans on the uplifting, gospel-influenced "Change the World," which takes after Michael Jackson's "We Are the World." ''Ball & Chain," written by Teena Marie for a jazz album she planned with Duke, is one of the late powerhouse singer's last recorded performances.
Duke expresses his love for his late wife on the tender, piano-driven ballad "Missing You," a romantic vocal duet with Rachelle Ferrell. The album ends by turning the cowboy ballad "Happy Trails" - Dale Evans' closing theme to "The Roy Rogers Show" - into a soulful, heartfelt farewell to his wife, made even more poignant by the sudden death of guitarist Jef Lee Johnson shortly after he recorded the fadeout guitar solo.
Follow Charles J. Gans at www.twitter.com/chjgans
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.