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Doris Duke


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Doris Duke was born Doris Curry, in Sandersville, Georgia in 1945, although the month isn’t known. By 1963, Doris had reached the New York City music scene and was earning a crust as both a session singer and a regular back-up artist at the city’s famed Apollo Theatre. ‘Running Away From Loneliness’, her first single, came out in 1966. Two years later her pairing of ‘You Can’t Do That’ and ‘Lost Again’, (bonus tracks on the CD) came out on the newly-minted Jay Boy label. (The third bonus track is from the same session, and a further track from the Kassner vaults will appear on a future Kent compilation.)

Despite strong promotion in the US trade press, Jay Boy #6001 failed to set the world alight and Doris remained reliant on session work, often commuting to Philadelphia to work with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. However, her fortunes were about to change! Step forward Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams Jr., who had recently left his artist/producer job at Atlantic Records and was branching out on his own as talent scout, writer, producer and performer - the man of many hats. As he told In The Basement magazine in July 1999 “At Atlantic I was the square peg struggling to fit in the round hole. Phil Walden was building a studio in Macon, Georgia. I called him and proposed a 75/25 partnership in my new production company. His contribution: studio and rhythm section. We agreed and, after a Little Tommy project which went unreleased, came the Doris Duke [I’m A Loser] LP. I damn near lost everything with that one. It was a woman’s album; men found it depressing. I walked the streets of New York for six months trying to give it away, then onto Los Angeles.


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