I had the pleasure to work with George Duke back in the early 80’s just after my departure from Shalamar. We recorded the song Baby Love” for a project he was working on. Ultimately, it was a stroke of luck for me that he chose not to use the song because I would have, according to the rules of the Recording Academy at the time – having a release in America as “Jody Watley, or George Duke featuring Jody Watley” would have made me ineligible for the “Best New Artist” category when my debut album was released a couple of years later in 1987. At the time he decided not to release it, I was bummed and disappointed, however fate was still on my side. Sometimes not getting what you want is actually the universe saying be patient! The experience recording with Mr. George Duke is a fond one, we had a great time at his renowned studio at his home in the Hollywood Hills. George Duke was the kind of person that made you feel at ease. I had great admiration for his countless works ranging from jazz, fusion, funk and soul. We had reconnected at the start of this year on Facebook after seeing each other at the memorial for Soul Train creator and host Don Cornelius. I asked about ‘Baby Love’ and if he would send it to me, as it’s been in my head for so long but I didn’t have a copy. Happy to send it to me, he also gave me permission to post it – which I did for a short time and took it down. I reposted it today in his honor, memory and celebration. To be a tiny piece of his musical journey as well is incredibly special and I feel very blessed to have crossed his path back then and recently as colleagues.
In February, we were a part of the inaugural Soul Train Cruise and were a part of a panel sharing fond memories of Don Cornelius. His final show on the cruise had everyone dancing in the aisles as he went straight P-funk to the delight of everyone near the conclusion of his performance.
My thoughts and prayers are extended to his family and friends. George Duke now joins his beloved wife Corine of 30 years. who succumbed to cancer just last year – as well as a host of other music legends. Beautiful music. Beautiful legacy in life.
Rest peacefully Mr. George Duke, you will be missed.