Saturday, September 30, 2017


English: Robillard rocking in 2006
Robillard rocking in 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Duke Robillard was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island on October 4, 1948. He first decided that he wanted to play the guitar at the age of six after hearing some records by Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. But it was not till he was twelve years of age that he got his very first guitar. In his early teens, he was influenced by different popular artists including Duane Eddy, The Ventures, and The Surfaris along with rockabilly and country guitar players James Burton and Scotty Moore. Then his guitar style became influenced by some of the leading blues guitar players including B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Freddie King.

After his initial graduation from high school, Duke Robillard worked for over a year in a factory. This experience made him decide to make a living as a guitarist! In 1967 he formed his group "Roomful Of Blues". Right around this time, his personal musical style began to be affected by the recordings of Buddy Johnson's rhythm and blues band. Duke then started to pay close attention to the jazz stage band recordings of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and likewise those of jazz guitar players Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel, Oscar Moore, and Tiny Grimes.

In 1969 he formed another blues band called "Black Cat". It was short-lived though and after it disbanded Robillard reformed the "Roomful Of Blues". This group was styled after the Kansas City and Southwest swing band sounds. For numerous years the group worked frequently in clubs around the Rhode Island and Boston areas. When he befriended and worked with jazz saxophonist Scott Hamilton, it was during this time that Duke was drawn further in the direction of jazz.

In 1978 the "Roomful Of Blues" band started making recordings for the Island Record Company. Since that time Duke Robillard has been associated with numerous well-known groups including "The Pleasure Kings", "The Legendary Blues Band" and "The Fabulous Thunderbirds". Duke then began recording for Rounder Records. His releases for this recording company reflect the quality of the jazz blues side of his guitar playing rather than the rhythm and blues styles of his earlier recordings.

In 1993 Duke Robillard signed a recording contract with the Stony Plains record label. Among his many albums ever since then are 2 duet efforts with jazz guitar legend Herb Ellis, a rhythm and blues tribute to T-Bone Walker, collaborating with Jay Geils and Jerry Beaudoin as "The New Guitar Summit" performing passionate performances of well-known swing standards, a duet with fellow blues guitarist Ronnie Earl as well as a tribute to Les Paul and Mary Ford.

Throughout his vibrant professional career Duke Robillard, who is also a likable singer, has always gone his own way often crossing over stylistic borders to play the music he loves. In more recent times Duke has launched several excellent instructional guitar DVDs and book collections that teach many of his recorded solos along with his playing techniques and harmonic approach to guitar.

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