Duke, Doug(las) (originally, Ovidio Fernandez)

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Duke, Doug(las) (originally, Ovidio Fernandez)

Duke, Doug(las) (originally, Ovidio Fernandez), Argentine-born jazz organist; b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1920; d. Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 10, 1973. His family moved to Rochester, N.Y. when he was a youth. He began classical piano lessons at the age of six and at ten began pipe organ lessons. By age 15 he was playing piano in local jazz clubs. After graduating from high school, he toured with Shep Fields and later with Mai Hallet, Jan Savitt, Mitch Ayres, Dick Stabile, and as the only white musician in one of Lionel Hampton’s bands (appearing at the Apollo in 1948). In the 1950s he toured primarily as an organist with his own groups, appearing at the Meadowbrook in N.J., the Hickory House in Manhattan, and on Steve Allen’s TV show. From the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, he made several trips to Europe, performing on his own and with other jazz artists, and may have lived in Denmark for a period in 1965. In 1966 he played faor three months in Rochester at John Amalfi’s Hi-Fi 400 club, and on Nov. 16, 1966 he opened a small music room, Doug Duke’s, in the Charlotte suburb of Rochester. Until his death, he accompanied guest artists including Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Moe Koffman (1967), Marian McPartland (Nov. 15–16,1968; piano and organ), and Teddy Wilson (piano and organ) at Doug Duke’s. The room was also used as a recording studio. Duke was a man of many interests; he flew airplanes, constructed two 22-foot cabin cruiser boats, and built a combined piano and organ that he called a “Dukeatron,” which he only used at home.


Jazz Organist Doug Duke Playing (1953); Douglas Duke, Vol. 2 (1954); Sounds Impossible (1956); The Music Room (I960).

—Lewis Porter