Well, the “Duke of Earl” by Gene Chandler is our idea of royalty — doo wop royalty, that is.
The song “Duke of Earl” started as a vocal exercise by the Dukays, a group that included singers Gene Dixon and Earl Edwards, both of whom already had some success on the R&B chart. They would warm up by singing “Do do do do…” in different keys. Dixon changed the syllables as he was singing to include Earl’s name, and the exercise eventually became the words “Du..du..du..Duke of Earl.” The pair worked on the song with songwriter and mentor Bernice William, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. The record was never released, but Dixon decided to go solo with it. Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler. The solo version, released late in 1961, rose quickly to #1 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1962. Chandler continues to tour and perform.