The “Duke of Earl” reaches number 2 on the charts on February 11, 1962. It would reach #1 by the end of the month. The song was penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards. It was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. The song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler (under his original name, Eugene Dixon) and Earl Edwards. The group would regularly warm up by singing “Do do do do…” in different keys. On one occasion, Dixon changed the syllables he was singing to include Earl’s name, and the chant gradually became the nonsense words “Du..du..du..Duke of Earl”. The pair worked on the song with songwriter and mentor Bernice Williams, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. However, the group’s record company preferred to release another song, “Nite Owl”, leaving Dixon with the offer of releasing it as a solo artist. Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler (a surname taken from that of the actor Jeff Chandler), and the song was released at the end of 1961, quickly rising to become number 1 on both the pop and R&B charts. “Duke of Earl” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 13, 1962, and held the number-one spot for three weeks. Find the Duke, Duke Duke, Duke of Earl, Earl, Earl on hoopla and in Freegal.
Jane Hyatt Yolen, writer of fantasy, science fiction, and children’s books, was born in New York City on February 11, 1939. She is the author or editor of more than 280 books, of which the best known is The Devil’s Arithmetic, a Holocaust novella. Her other works include the Nebula Award-winning short story Sister Emily’s Lightship, the novelette Lost Girls, Owl Moon, The Emperor and the Kite, the Commander Toad series and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight. Find Jane Yolen at the library, on hoopla and in OverDrive.