Duke Ellington

ellington1April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington began playing piano at the age of 7 and never looked back. He wrote his first song at 15 and went on to become one of the most influential and prolific artists in American music at large, let alone within the genre with which he was most closely associated: Jazz. Nicknamed “Duke” because of his swagger and the way he dressed – even at a young age – Ellington led his orchestra for nearly a half century. He gained national exposure while playing on the radio from Harlem’s famed Cotton Club in the late 1920s. He wrote and recorded songs at a near unprecedented pace. He worked with greats in all genres from Frank Sinatra (Francis A. & Edward K.) to Louis Armstrong  and constantly stretched himself into new musical territory. Aside from his countless jazz recordings, he also wrote for the stage (Beggar’s Holiday, Play On!) and composed pieces to accompany works of literature and classical masterworks. Duke won a dozen Grammys – a couple posthumously – is a member of several Halls of Fame and remains one of the most revered musician in American history.  In 1974, Duke Ellington died of lung cancer and pneumonia after 75 years of being musical royalty.


Woodlawn Cemetery – Bronx NY

Specific Location

Wild Rose Plot; On the corner at the intersection of Heather Ave. and Knollwood Ave., directly across Heather Ave. from Miles Davis, the Ellington plot is marked with a large cross.



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