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Gene Chandler

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Gene Chandler (born Eugene Dixon, July 6, 1937, Chicago, Illinois) is an American singer. He is esteemed by soul fans as one of the leading exponents of the 1960s Chicago soul scene, along with Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. His signature hit is the #1 Billboard Hot 100 chart song, “Duke of Earl” (1962). Chandler wrote and performed many more songs, and collaborated with many of the greats in the soul and R&B world.

Chandler attended Englewood High School (later known as Englewood Technical Prep Academy) on Chicago’s south side. He began performing in the early 1950s with The Gaytones. In 1957 he joined a doo-wop group called The Dukays with James Lowe, Shirley Jones, Earl Edwards and Ben Broyles, quickly becoming their lead singer. He was drafted by the U.S. Army to Germany for three years, returned to Chicago in 1960, and rejoined his bandmates. Through music industry contacts, the Dukays were offered a recording contract by the Chicago based Nat Records. The first single was titled “The Girl Is a Devil.” In 1961, Nat Records released a song titled “Nite Owl”, and the band went back to the recording studio to record once more.

The Duke is born
At the time, Nat Records wanted to release the new song “Duke of Earl”, but was unable to. An executive with Vee-Jay Records, Calvin Carter, heard the song and wanted it for distribution as a song on his record label, but only as a Gene Chandler record. Vee-Jay were not interested in The Dukays.

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