Duke Ellington Biography

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  • Topic: Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington Orchestra members
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  • Published : April 3, 2006
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Duke Ellington

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Ellington's parents James and Daisy actively supported his educational development. Duke had his first piano lesson at the age of seven or eight; this did not fancy him too much. At this time he was interested in baseball, which brought his first job as a peanut salesman at the Washington Senator's games. This helped Duke overcome stage fright, which was of use for the future to come. With his piano lessons fading in the past, he showed interest in the art. As a result he attended Armstrong Manual Training School to study commercial art instead of attending and academics-oriented school. As time went by Duke began to listen and seek out pianists in Washington, and in summers while he would vacation with his mother in Philadelphia and Atlantic City he would also find different artist. On one of these vacations Duke met Harvey Brooks in Asbury Park. Duke later sought out Harvey in Philadelphia and spend time with him. Harvey Brooks taught Duke many tricks and shortcuts on the piano, in doing so Harvey Brooks ignited an inner passion in Duke for music.

Dukes first real connections were with Oliver "Doc" Parry and Louis Brown, they taught Ellington to read music and helped him improve his overall piano skills. Duke then started getting jobs at cafes and clubs throughout Washington's streets. As a result of these happenings Duke decided to pursue his love for music and dropped out of school three months shy of graduating for a professional music career. In doing this he formed his own group in 1917, The Duke's Serenaders. In the following years Ellington made three large steps to independence. First, he moved out of his parents house and into a house he had purchased. Second, he became his own booking agent for the band. Finally Duke married Edna Thompson and on March 11, 1919, Mercer Kennedy Ellington was born. A few years later Duke and his new family moved to New York,...
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