"Duke of Earl" is a 1962 US number-one song, originally by Gene Chandler. It is the best known of Chandler's songs, and he subsequently dubbed himself 'The Duke of Earl'. The song was penned by Chandler, Bernice Williams, and Earl Edwards. This song was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has also been selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
The song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler (under his original name, Eugene Dixon) and Earl Edwards and that had already had some success on the R&B chart. The group would regularly warm up by singing "Do do do do..." in different keys. On one occasion, Dixon changed the syllables he was singing to include Earl's name, and the chant gradually became the nonsense words "Du..du..du..Duke of Earl". The pair worked on the song with regular songwriter and mentor Bernice Williams, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. However, the group's record company preferred to release another song, "Nite Owl", leaving Dixon with the offer of releasing it as a solo artist. Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler (a surname taken from that of the actor Jeff Chandler), and the song was released at the end of 1961, quickly rising to become number 1 on both the pop and R&B charts. "Duke of Earl" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 13, 1962, and held the number-one spot for three weeks. It was on the Hot 100 for a total of 15 weeks.
Daddy Cool covered the song as a single released in 1973.
In 1988, Australian harmony group "Dukes of Earlwood featuring Armondo Hurley" reached #12 on the Australian charts with a cover of "Duke of Earl". The success of the song came after the popularity of a TV commercial for Decoré Shampoo which used an adaptation of "Duke of Earl" as its jingle (viz. "De-de-de Decoré, de-de Decoré, de-de Decoré..." etc).
Little Feat, The Beach Boys, Orleans, and Red Hot Chili Peppers have also played their version of the song whilst on tour. Cypress Hill sampled "Duke of Earl" into one of their own hit songs, "Hand on the Pump", ontheir 1991 self-titled album.
The Karate Lincolns, a punk rock American band, also performed this song in their 2010 release Pop Riggin